Explore the dynamics of creating an original television series with an accomplished TV writer-producer-showrunner as your guide.

There are no available registration dates at this time.

Note: This course will be held in an online format. 

What’s the difference between a movie and the first episode of a television series – the pilot? How do you create a unique world, with characters an audience will want to follow? We’ll analyze and discuss the mechanics of existing pilots (both series and limited series) to consider how concept and character are launched. Learn how to get an audience invested in your characters, how to layer A, B & C story threads and how to keep the stakes rising. By the end of the week you will have created a pitch that conveys the show’s world, characters, and fundamental arcs. This is the foundation for writing a pilot, and creating a series for television.

Participants will bring a series idea to the first class. Tips to help you shape this will be sent out ahead of the workshop. These ideas will be workshopped as a group in our virtual classroom with opportunities for one-on-one consultation with the instructor. In addition to sessions together as a group you will also have time to write and revise your work.

We’ll cover:  What goes into a pilot that will suggest that there are many more stories to tell over multiple seasons? Who’s the lead? Why is he/she complicated enough to support a whole world? Who are your other important characters? How do they interact with the main character? How does the action in the pilot support the premise and promise of the pilot – and series? All of this will happen within the simulation of a collaborative and supportive “Writers’ Room” where you can test and shape your premise, pitch, story and characters. You will also learn about the practical realities of the marketplace and the career path of a television writer.

By week’s end you will have an understanding of what makes a series that an audience (and a buyer) is likely to fall in love with. You will have written a pitch document (five to seven pages) that conveys the show’s world, people, and fundamental arcs. Most importantly, you’ll emerge with a take on a television series that is personal, distinctive, and uniquely yours.

Schedule:

Class sessions will begin at 10:00 a.m. EST. There will be a one hour lunch break from 12:30-1:30. We will typically follow lunch with the viewing of a pilot episode out-of-class (via a streaming platform), then resume class at 2:00 or 2:30, and generally wrap the day by 5:00.

PLEASE NOTE: The instructor will assign episodes for you to watch at your location. This might cause you to incur modest streaming fees ($10-20), particularly if you are not already a subscriber to Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon.


In addition to being offered on an individual basis, this workshop is offered as part of the 2020 Four Week Screenwriting Intensive.

Image Credit:  Devin Altobello

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Instructor: Michael Sardo

An Emmy-nominated writer and executive producer, Michael Sardo has worked on hundreds of episodes of television, including The Tracey Ullman Show, Grace Under Fire, Wings, Picket Fences, Caroline in the City, American Embassy and Rizzoli & Isles. He has been the showrunner for both comedy and drama series. He was the creator, showrunner and executive producer of the series Fairly Legal and Normal. Michael has developed and written series pilots for HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, TNT, ABC, NBC, Lifetime and USA networks, HBO Independent Productions, eOne, Witt/Thomas, NBC Productions, Universal Cable Productions, Slingshot Global Media, Circle of Confusion TV, Storyworld Entertainment and MGM Television. He recently adapted Margaret Atwood’s novel The Heart Goes Last for MGM Television.