Personal tips

PODCAST INTERVIEW – HOW TO TELL YOUR INTERNAL STORY

by on Dec.15, 2018, under events, Featured, Motivation, Personal tips

BPS 021: How to Tell Your Internal Story with Jen Grisanti

Jen Grisanti

How to Tell Your Internal Story with Jen Grisanti

Today on the show we have Hollywood Story/Career Consultant and former Studio Executive Jen Grisanti. Grisanti is also a Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former studio executive, a blogger for The Huffington Post and author of Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells, and her recent book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life.

Over twenty years ago, Jen Grisanti started her career as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years. She quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends.

In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Drawing on her years of experience as a studio executive where she gave daily notes to executive producers/showrunners, Grisanti personally guides writers to shape their material, hone their pitches and focus their careers.

Since launching her consulting firm, Jen Grisanti worked with over 1000 writers specializing in television, features, and novels. Due to her guidance, over ninety of her clients have staffed as writers on television shows, fifty-three have sold pilots, and six of those pilots have gone to series.

Enjoy my conversation with Jen Grisanti.

Right-click here to download the MP3 (Transcription below)
Download on iTunes Direct
Watch on IFH YouTube Channel


LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

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FINAL DRAFT PODCAST INTERVIEW – REFOCUSING YOUR ENERGY FOR NEXT SEASON’S SCREENWRITING CONTESTS AND FELLOWSHIPS

by on Dec.15, 2018, under events, Featured, Motivation, Personal tips

 

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2019 Storywise 10-Week TV Teleseminar – LEVEL 3 & SPECIAL OFFERS

by on Nov.18, 2018, under events, Featured, Personal tips

STORYWISE 10-week TV WRITING TELESEMINAR AND TRAINING SERIES

Classes begin on Tuesday March 5th at 7:00 pm ONLINE and go through May 14, 2019

Want to learn all of the things that I teach in Writers on the Verge at NBC? Check out my Storywise 10-Week Teleseminar that includes an eight-module story instruction training series called, “How To Write A TV Pilot That Sells: Moving Forward.”

This is a 10-week program designed to help you write a high-quality TV pilot AND spec script. In 10-weeks, I will teach you how to learn to write at a level that will help lead your script to a sale, get staffed on a show, place in a writing competition or get into one of the various writing programs. This course is everything that I teach in Writers on the Verge and more.

Last year we had over 100 writer participants from all over the world. You will not only learn all of the story tools that you need to succeed, but you will also gain the opportunity to be in a private community of writers. This community is a very valuable resource. You all will have a chance to learn from one another via networking, to exchange scripts and possibly starting your own writer groups.

I’ve seen the success from this course first-hand. Many of the writers who have taken this 10-week course have gone on to sell pilots, get staffed on TV shows and get into several of the prestigious writing programs. Fifty-Two of my writers have sold pilots… and 6 of them have gone to series.

The story instruction is pre-recorded. You will receive this before the course begins in March.

In March, each call is approximately 2 – 2 ½ hours in length. On each call, we will go over the notes for the 4 writers participating at Level #3. You will have an opportunity to read their scripts and make your own notes each week. You will also get to share your notes with those writers directly. This is what we do in Writers on the Verge. It is a way to prepare you for being in the Writers’ Room. Then, I will give five people the opportunity to sign up each week will get an opportunity to pitch to a guest speaker. We all learn from hearing others pitch. This part of the program was designed to help you learn from the pitching style of others as well as give you the opportunity to pitch yourself. It’s an invaluable tool. Every level will have an opportunity to sign up for this.

 

 

I currently have a SPECIAL OFFER going for the month of January for levels 1, 2, and 4.

Here is the LINK for the 4 FREE Training Videos.

LEVEL 1

At Level 1, you get to participate in all 10 classes. You will receive a recording of the classes. You will have an opportunity to sign up to pitch to my weekly guest speakers. You get to be part of a private Facebook community. You will also get to turn in a 1-2 page pitch document on your TV spec and TV pilot script. You will receive written feedback. You have up to a year after the course is finished to turn this in.

Regular rate – $397.00

SPECIAL OFFER – $247.00 (LIMITED TIME OFFER)

 

Rate for writers who have taken this before – $227.00

 

 

LEVEL 2

At Level 2, you get to participate in all 10 classes. You will receive a recording of the classes. You will have an opportunity to sign up to pitch to my weekly guest speakers. You get to be part of a private Facebook community. This level also includes a one-on-one consult for your TV spec and/or TV Pilot script.

Level 2 w/ TV Pilot Consult

Regular Rate – $1,050.00

Special Rate – $947.00

For Alumni of my Storywise Teleseminar – $927.00

 

LEVEL 3

At Level 3, you will receive feedback every week on your TV spec or TV pilot script. This includes written and verbal feedback. You will receive a recording of the classes. You will have an opportunity to sign up to pitch to my weekly guest speakers. You get to be part of a private Facebook community.

For the first time, I am going to offer you the option of not writing a TV spec. You can either write one TV pilot during the 10 weeks or, you can write two TV pilots during the ten weeks. There will also be an option to do it for five weeks instead of ten weeks. This will be offered to the finalists.

There are only FOUR SLOTS for this level: two for drama and two for comedy. This could change depending on the strength of the submissions. If you are interested in applying, you will need to submit ten pages of a script. The submission deadline is 1/31/19. I will select four submissions out of all of the submissions and announce these slots in February. The rate for Level 3 is $3,000.00.

ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR LEVEL 3 STARTING JANUARY 1 – 31, 2019. I will announce in mid-February. Please email your 10 page submissions to me at jen@jengrisanti.com

 

LEVEL 4

At Level 4, you will receive written/verbal notes back every week on your scripts. This includes 5 Coaching Consults either alongside the teleseminar or as you prefer. You will receive a recording of the classes. You will have an opportunity to sign up to pitch two times to my weekly guest speakers. You get to be part of a private Facebook community.

There are only 4 slots available at this level.

Regular Rate – $3,647.00

Special Rate – $3,347.00

 

ASSIGNMENTS

Level #3 writing assignments will be due the Saturday before each class. Everyone at each level will receive a copy of the assignments turned in by the Level #3 writers so that they may follow along as well as provide notes directly to the Level#3 writer.

 

Levels #1 and #2, you will do the assignments on your own. No direct feedback is provided for Level 1. Level 2 gets feedback during the pilot consult. I do highly recommend that you use the Facebook community of writers to exchange scripts so that you can receive weekly feedback.

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HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES

by on Dec.22, 2017, under Featured, Personal tips

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies
Author: Kara
Yield: 5 1/2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Sugar for rolling
  • 3 cups white chips (I use Guittard brand)
  • 3 Tbsp oil or shortening
  1. Beat oil, sugar, eggs, and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stir into the sugar mixture till well combined. Roll dough into small balls and roll in sugar.
  2. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 350° for about 6-7 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Combine chips and oil in a small glass bowl. Microwave at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Dip cookies halfway into the white chocolate and lay on parchment paper or silicone pan liners till set.
Notes
-The 2 tablespoons of ginger is not a mistake. It’s what makes them really good. The spiciness is a perfect balance for the white chocolate, trust me!
-When you get to the last of the cookies, it will be hard to dip them. You can just spread the chocolate over the top of them, kind of like frosting.
Christmas Magic Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
How to make 7 Layer Magic Bars with a Christmas theme.
Created by: Beth Jackson Klosterboer
Recipe type: Dessert
Category: Christmas
Makes: 24-30 bars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil.
  3. Mix crushed Original Oreo Cookies with melted butter.
  4. Press into and even layer in the 9×13 baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle on toffee bits, peanuts, and pretzels.
  6. Pour sweetened condensed milk over top and spread evenly.
  7. Add the pieces of red cream filled Oreos cookies, 1/2 cup of the red and green M&M’s and 1/2 of the bag of Holiday morsels.
  8. Bake for 25-27 minutes until the sweetened condensed milk has caramelized. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the remaining red and green M&M’s and Holiday Chocolate Morsels.
  9. Return to oven for 3 minutes.
  10. Remove pan from oven, and tap it on the counter a few times. This will help secure all the M&M’s.
  11. Cool completely.
  12. Peel off foil. Cut into 24-30 squares.
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Step-by-step photo tutorial (see the video tutorial below):

Oreo Cookie crust

Mix crushed Original Oreo Cookies with melted butter. Press into and even layer in the 9×13 baking pan.

Heath bar dessert

Sprinkle on toffee bits, peanuts, and pretzels.

Magic Bar recipe

Pour sweetened condensed milk over top and spread evenly.

Christmas dessert ideas

Add the pieces of red cream filled Oreos cookies, 1/2 cup of the red and green M&M’s and 1/2 of the bag of Holiday morsels.

Christmas dessert recipes

Bake for 25-27 minutes until the sweetened condensed milk has caramelized. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the remaining red and green M&M’s and Holiday Chocolate Morsels. Return to oven for 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and tap it on the counter a few times. This will help secure all the M&M’s. Cool completely.

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

Yield: 31 cookies

Ingredients

    • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
    • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • raspberry jam for filling
Amaretto Glaze
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 and 1/2 tsp. amaretto

Instructions

    1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add almond and vanilla extracts and continue to mix.
    3. Add flour and salt, scraping down the bowl as needed.
    4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for a few hours.
    5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
    6. Scoop cookie dough using a cookie scoop that yields 3/4 ounce of dough and place on prepared cookies sheets.
    7. Roll cookie dough into balls and make an indentation in the middle with your thumb.
    8. Using a 1/4 teaspoon, fill the indentation with jam.
    9. Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, rotating once halfway through.
    10. Allow to cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Amaretto Glaze
  1. In a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar and Amaretto, adding a little amaretto at a time until you get the right consistency.
  2. Spoon glaze over completely cooled cookies. You can also use a piping bag to drizzle the glaze.

 

 

Cognac Chocolate Chip Cookies

45 min Prep Time | 8-10 min Cook Time| 55 min Total Time

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons Rémy Martin 1738 Cognac
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup walnut (or pecans)

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter.
  3. Mix in both sugars slowly to the creamed butter.
  4. Mix till smooth.
  5. Add cognac and egg.
  6. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt.
  7. Add chocolate and nuts.
  8. Give ample space between cookies as place put on the greased cookie sheet. I only did 6 cookies at a time. When on the baking sheet, put in fridge for 15 minutes so the dough becomes firm before baking.
  9. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. The cookies should be crisp with browned edges, and centers baked through.

 

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5 QUESTIONS FOR WRITING A TV PILOT THAT SELLS

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Featured, Motivation, Personal tips

Jen Grisanti5 Questions for
Writing a TV Pilot that Sells

Guest Post by Jen Grisanti,
Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot

Writing the TV pilot is one of the most challenging scripts to write,
and to write well.
I’ve helped in the development of thousands of scripts over the past 20 years. I was a
Studio Executive at two major studios for 12 years, I am currently a Writing Instructor
at NBC, and I’ve been a Story/Career Consultant for 10 years.

From the 48 pilots sold from the writers I’ve worked with since starting my business 10 years ago,
there are the five questions that I believe every writer should ask themselves when they are writing
their TV pilot:

  1. Does my series trigger push my central character into a powerful enough dilemma to set up season one?
  2. Is there a personal component that sets up the personal dilemma of my central character?
  3. Does my central character actively make a choice in the pilot trigger and dilemma that leads to a pursuit?
  4. Is my pilot goal clear?
  5. How do I setup the series?

Trigger & Dilema

With your series trigger and dilemma, you want to think about something that happens to your central character
that knocks their life out of balance. At this point in the story, your central character is often reactive versus active.
The dilemma should make us feel empathy for your character.

Personal Component

With the personal component, you are setting up the personal dilemma of your central character that leads to the
professional pursuit. This sets up the void. The pursuit is one step towards filling this void. With the personal part,
you want to think about the arc of the wound. The best pilots have a childhood wound that the series trigger and
dilemma splits open. The personal component in your story is the emotional part of your story.

Central Character

With the pilot arc, your central character goes from being reactive to active. With the setup of the series arc, they react to what happens to them. Then, they make an active choice that leads to the setup of the pilot arc. In the pilot arc, we should be clear about what your central character wants and why they want it by the end of Act One.

Pilot Goal

If the pilot goal is not clear, the story doesn’t work. In each act, the central character should take an action, hit an obstacle, and the stakes should be raised to the pilot goal. If the goal is not clear, you cannot link these points. We should feel what your character wants and what is in the way for every scene.

Series Set Up

After the resolution of the pilot arc, you need to set up the series. When I see this done well, it bookends
what happened in the series trigger and dilemma setup and helps to build the next level of the concept. The
point of this is to make your audience so enthralled that they can’t wait to see what happens next.

Mastering a story by utilizing the right tools is what will lead you to a sale.

* * *

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.,
writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current
Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post, and author of the books,
Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells, and
Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success. Her new video series is
Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot. Learn more.

Read my Q&As with Jen on Story Line and Change Your Story, Change Your Life.

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STORY: CREATING TRANSFORMATION THROUGH UNDERSTANDING THE VOID

by on Apr.10, 2017, under Featured, Personal tips

When we understand how to heal the wound and fill the void, true transformation can begin. In story as in life, our wounds create a void. The void stops us from moving forward with our journey in a productive way. The void often creates a negative narrative that gets in our way of success. The negative narrative produces a flaw. The flaw is our way of coping with the void. Our flaw could be what we do to distract ourselves from processing the wound so that we can move forward. The gift of story is that we can watch the transformation that happens to the hero with the wound from the beginning through the achievement of the goal. If the storyteller understands how to fill the void caused by the wound, the hero will find resolution on an internal and an external level.

Our present wounds are often caused by the splitting open of a prior wound. We have a memory of something in our past that created a void. So, when something happens in the present to split this open, we need to take the action to fill the void. In story, I tell the writers that I work with to think about the prior wound. In TV pilots, how does the series trigger and dilemma split open this wound? In features, how does the inciting incident split open the earlier wound? Creatively, when you link the prior wound to the present wound, you have a greater depth to deal with in the understanding of the wound and how to fill the void through conscious action and connection. When you have the prior wound linked to the present wound, you have the fertile ground in between to utilize when it comes to the telling of your story.

In the movie, LION, we see the prior wound happen at the beginning of the story. We are in the wound. We know what it is. We are in the heat of it. We FEEL the void. Then, when there is a time jump, we still have a clear understanding of the goal. He is lost. He wants to find home. Finding home goes to a whole new level of meaning because of how his story evolves. He has a new home. Love is there. However, the void is never truly filled until the answer is found. He has to move through the negative narrative and the obstacle of the wound happening when he was a young boy. The journey to find home never stops after the time jump. It is always there. Then, a new beginning for intimacy and connection appears. A problem arises when he discovers that true intimate connection cannot be truly realized until he finds home. This leads him back to his journey.

This type of story is very reflective of the writers’ journey in my worldview. For the writer to truly be able to express her/himself, she must do the emotional work to “find home” so that she can access the wound, fill the void and move forward in a way that will allow her to truly connect with her audience on a deeper level of meaning. When the void is present and the negative narrative wins, the truth cannot be fully found. So, this is where the emotional work begins.

On Netflix, there is a phenomenal show called RIVER that really takes us through the healing and processing of the wound. In RIVER, there is a twist at the start that you don’t see coming that involves the wound. It is very clever and very creative. When you understand the wound and how it stops River from moving forward, it connects with the audience in a very universal way. One of River’s flaws is his sense of denial and refusal to face the truth. In TV, the way that this is often dealt with is that there is a thematic link between the pilot arc and the season arc. The pilot arc is often one step toward healing the wound. In River, through the solving of the first case, we see how he gets answers to his own emotional void through his connection with the mom who lost her daughter and the boyfriend who confesses to killing her. River knows from the evidence that the boyfriend didn’t murder her. In working to understand the boy and what really happened, he is able to move deeper into his own process of healing. It is his digging into his own pain that leads to the answer of what happened with the boy and the girl.

When story is mastered at a level like these two stories, we all benefit. We see in process what the journey is in finding the answer to fill the void. When we learn to fill the void in story and in life, we pave a path to move forward and connect on a level that brings us true resolution.

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WHEN STORY GIVES SERVICE

by on Nov.22, 2016, under Motivation, Personal tips

When story gives true service, it takes us to a new level of consciousness and enlightenment and makes us feel very deeply. I have a hunger for this type of story. I am always on a quest for it. Take me inside a world from an angle that I haven’t experienced and make me feel like I am living in the worldview of the character/characters. This is what I discovered while watching the new Netflix show, The Crown.

Many of us in the entertainment community have recently gone through a shift or what many believe to be an “all is lost” moment. The best way to move through this type of experience is to express, heal and feel. Story is the place to do this. When story serves, it’s as if it understands what we are going through and it delivers it to us in a way that helps us to forget our own problems and buy into the world of imagination of another time and place. Oddly, this world has very strong parallels with what we just experienced with one meteoric rise to power.

The Crown took me into a world and made me feel like I was living it through the eyes of Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill. This is such a significant relationship in our history. To see it brought to life and delved into in a major way is absolutely spellbinding. Peter Morgan wrote this. He is a pure genius. He takes us into several different angles of relationship dynamics that ground and enthrall the viewer with this moment in time.

It starts with the King’s illness and the building of a beautiful relationship between him and his daughter, Elizabeth. We see how Elizabeth is being groomed but there is no warning at how quickly it will all happen. We feel what the King is going through. There is a moment when Elizabeth’s daughter gives him a King’s crown for a gift at the Christmas party at a time when he knows he’s sick. He reaches down for her hand as he gets choked up. I love these little moments that have so much emotion and meaning.

With Winston and Queen Elizabeth, we see how they need one another in their monumental roles. We feel their friendship and their loyalty. We feel the depth of the betrayal when Winston fails to tell Queen Elizabeth about his health and thus causes significant danger to her part in leading the nation. We feel the pain of letting go of a time that once was. We connect with what it is to have to let the younger generation take the reigns.

When I started working for Aaron Spelling, he was 69 and I was 24. He was bigger than life in my eyes. So, I could completely connect with this relationship dynamic and the understanding and admiration of an icon.

One of the many, many things that I love about this series is Morton’s exploration into the title versus the person. This was one of the major conflicts that Queen Elizabeth faced. It is very relevant today with career versus home life. However, in this time, the title had to take precedence over everything. The role of wife, mother, sister and daughter had to be secondary. Watching Queen Elizabeth have to embrace and transform into this at such a young age is astounding.

With Philip, we feel her struggle with her deep love for her new husband and her responsibility for the nation. We feel what he has to sacrifice in order to be a part of this relationship. We see how their marital bond is constantly tested by the title versus the person. It was also fascinating to know that this marriage was not supported from the beginning. Yet, there is such a poignant moment between The King and Philip when they go hunting in the pilot. The King helps Philip to see that there is no lesser role and nothing more patriotic than what he has to do with loving and protecting her.

Another relationship dynamic that moved me was the bond between the Queen and her two daughters. I never considered that when the King died, she was stripped of everything and her daughters took over. To have to see her face the death of her spouse and then go through so much loss really made us feel her pain.

I also loved the story arc where there was a promise made between the two sisters and their father. This promise is later put to the test when it is discovered that there is no way that the promise can be honored in light of the position and the responsibility. This is when we see and feel the true conflict for Queen Elizabeth and what she had to go through to maintain the role while not letting the intimate relationships in her family unravel.

For me, this is definitely one of the best first seasons that I’ve seen of any series in my 24 years of story. It filled my spirit because the writer, the director, the cast and the crew fulfilled their service to story at the highest level at a time when we need it the most.

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BIBLE FORMULA for #Scriptchat

by on Jun.12, 2016, under Featured, Motivation, Personal tips

BIBLE FORMULA 2016

  • Explanation for the title of your Pilot.
  • Series log line and a brief paragraph describing your Pilot.
  • Pilot Log Line – Write a log line for your pilot (summary of the A story).
  • The Show – Describe your Pilot. This gives a sense of how you see your show.
  • The Format -Describe what your show will be week to week. Is it an action/adventure show? Is it a character drama? Is it a police procedural? Is it a medical or legal show? Is there humor? What will the balance of story be in each episode? For example, if you’re writing a legal show, will it be more about the case or more about the personal?
  • The Philosophy -Go into a deeper explanation of your concept and what your audience can expect from it.
  • The Characters -Write a paragraph or up to a page on each character.
  • Supporting Characters – Write a brief paragraph for each supporting/recurring role.
  • Character Dynamics – Give a paragraph about the primary relationships that are part of the inside story.
  • Formula – Give an idea of the story formula with regards to the A and B story arcs.
  • Themes – Go into the overarching themes.
  • The On-Going Sets – Write down what your regular sets/locations will be.

Where will the majority of story take place?

  • The Pilot Story – Write a longer description/overview of the Pilot story.
  • Future Story Arcs – Write a line about the “A” and the “B” story for your first 13 episodes. If it’s a cable show, write log lines for your first 8-10 episodes.
  • Overview – Give an overview of your series arcs for seasons 1, 2 and 3.
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