In the Writer's Room: Start Your TV Pilot Script

From Abbott Elementary to Succession, The Bear to The Diplomat, some of the most compelling storytelling done today is on television. But what does “television” mean when traditional networks battle Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and TikTok? How do you wrangle an idea into a series? What exactly is needed from a pilot and how does it sustain and evolve over seasons?This two-day intensive course will introduce you to the form and content of writing for television. We will discuss the different forms of TV series—comedy versus drama, hour versus half-hour, commercial versus streaming, single-camera versus multicam, serial versus episodic—and see how those decisions affect your dramatic material. We will explore the “franchise” of a series, and thereby develop your own idea. We will also cover basic storytelling concepts that underpin any good filmed story: character, goal, flaw, structure. And we will discuss how an idea works its way through the entertainment business to get on screen, giving context to the recent strikes in LA. Short writing exercises will be interspersed among lecture, clips, and discussion. Whether you’re a TV addict or an experienced writer, you'll get a taste of what it means to be “in the writers’ room.”

Adam Tobin
Senior Lecturer, Film and Media Studies, Stanford


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Online, instructor-led
Feb 1 - Feb 8, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies