Anatomy of a Pilot

SCRIPT X 421.5

Learn what goes into a successful TV pilot as you develop your original idea into a concise pitch document.


What you can learn.

  • Watch and dissect recent network and cable pilots
  • Examine character, theme, and structure in successful pilots
  • Identify common structural elements that make pilots resonate with audiences
  • Develop a 3-5 page breakdown of your original pilot, including characters and weekly stories
  • Hear from experienced guest speakers to understand how they found success

About this course:

A new television show has exactly one shot at survival: its pilot episode. If the viewer isn't grabbed in the first hour, they're gone forever. But what is a pilot? How is it different from all other forms of screenwriting? What makes a good one work and a bad one fail? And how can you be sure yours is one of the winners? In this intense, informative, and entertaining course, you learn everything you need to know about what goes into a winning pilot. You watch and dissect recent network and cable pilots; examine character, theme, and structure; and discuss which pilots best launched their respective series. Emphasis is on identifying the common structural elements of all successful pilots, gaining an understanding of "weekly franchise" versus "series mythology," and crafting long-term character arcs. We also discuss and develop student pilot ideas, help you turn your idea into a concise "pitch document" (a two-to-three-page breakdown of concept, character, and weekly story structure), and give you the tools you need to make the big move from pitch document to pilot outline and script. The course features guest speakers who have written, directed, and/or produced their own network television pilots.

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