Prerequisite:
TV Writing I
TV Writing II Pilot

TV Writing II Pilot is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. The prerequisite is TV Writing I (10-week), or the equivalent; Level II courses work best when students know the fundamentals and have experience with the workshop process.  Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

The best TV shows are addictive, beckoning us to bring the characters into our homes or devices, episode after episode. The people might be cops, thugs, monsters, geeks, doctors, lawyers, fixers, or just ordinary people with everyday problems. The format might be network, streaming, or a web series. As long as it hooks us.

Each TV show is a unique story-machine, with its own rules and formulas. Here you’ll learn how to write for TV and how to market your work.

Whether you seek to write comedy, drama, or something in between, we’ll show you how to write TV episodes that might, someday, get everybody buzzing.

About TV Writing
TV Writing II Pilot

Writing a pilot is a daunting task--this class will chop it up into manageable chunks, taking it step by step.

Chris Fletcher

comedian/actor

Notes

TV writers either work on the staff of an existing series or they create an original show. To break into the business, you need samples of your work—either episodes of existing shows or original scripts, the latter more desirable these days.

TV Writing I focuses on writing “spec” scripts for existing shows, which is the best way to learn how TV episodes work. TV Writing II Pilot focuses on creating an original series and “pilot” episode.

These courses cover “scripted” shows, as opposed to reality TV.

Upcoming Classes

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Also, we will require masks in the classrooms and Gotham premises.

More Covid details

Price

Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.

10-Week

Syllabus

This course teaches you the fundamentals of writing a TV pilot script for an original series, sharpens your TV writing skills, and helps you begin to develop a TV pilot.
     Lectures
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Series Concept: TV today. Finding the seed idea for a series. Consistency of a series. What a series needs in terms of the major elements—type, premise, episodes (self-contained/serialized, storylines, signatures), characters, setting, tone, secret theme. Originality.

Week 2
Pilot Episode Conception: Pilot explained. Kinds of pilot episodes. How a pilot embodies all the elements of a series—type, premise, episodes, characters, setting, tone, secret theme.

Week 3
Pilot Episode Outline: Review of acts and act outs. Effective prose and step outlines for pilots. Outlining tips.

Week 4
Stories: Finding the show's central source of conflict. Generating numerous stories from that conflict. Embodying the conflict in the pilot storylines.

Week 5
The Regulars: Creating the series regulars—personality, dimension, background. Delivering strong first impressions of regulars in the pilot.

Week 6
Good Pages: Description. Dialogue. Scenes. Effective pilot openings.

Week 7
Enticers: Techniques for using mystery, suspense, and surprise in your pilot, and beyond.

Week 8
Setting/Tone: Setting—sets, environment, geographic location, socio-economic status. Setting reflected in pilot. Tone—calibrating the light/dark and real/surreal of a series. Other methods of finding tone.

Week 9
Signature/Secret Theme: Exploring “signatures" and finding the right one for a show. Finding and incorporating secret theme.

Week 10
Selling Your Series (and Self): Writing samples. Getting in the door. Networks/studios/production companies. How to pitch a series. Deals. The road to production. The yearly cycle. Web series.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.

Teachers

Pamela Harris
Pamela Harris

Pamela Harris created Married by the Hour, a half-hour comedy (Howard Stern Productions) and served as a staff writer for Life on the Line, a one-hour drama (Oxygen Network). She wrote the feature screenplay Joyville, which was selected for the Writers Lab, a program sponsored by Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey. She has also written and optioned feature screenplays. She co-wrote and directed the short film “En Route,” a selection of the New York Short Film Festival, the Big Apple Film Festival, and the Blackbird Film Festival. She is an award-winning visual artist whose work can be viewed in private, corporate, and embassy collections across the world. She holds a BFA from the Hartford Art School.

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