Tag: TV series

STORYWISE TV SEMINAR ON THE EAST COAST

by on Aug.02, 2019, under events, Featured

 

HOW TO WRITE A TV PILOT THAT SELLS w/Jen Grisanti

Hosted by Nicole Couloute

Sunday, September 22, 2019 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

 

Description

Are you an aspiring TV writer, director, actor, or exec? Learn how to break into the industry and better your TV pilot writing skills. NBC executive, Jen Grisanti, will explain how to write a compelling pilot and the process to start a career in the television industry. Nicole Couloute hosts this event.

 

Registration begins promptly at 9 am and ends at 9:50 am. You must present your ID at check-in, so make sure to bring appropriate documentation.

 

Please note that space is limited, so be sure to purchase your ticket sooner rather than later.

 

Send a request to the Nicole Couloute TV Writing Events Facebook group after the purchase of a ticket. This action will allow you to stay up to date on the event and keep in touch with other attendees.

 

The workshop has three sections:

  • Jen will give a seminar – “How To Write A TV Pilot That Sells
  • There will be a pitch panel
  • There will be a networking session to collaborate with other attendees.

 

Plan to stay beyond 2 pm if you can, but it is not required. To pitch, you must have purchased a pitching ticket. Please contact Nicole to get a pitching ticket. Due to the limited time of the pitching session, there will only be a handful of pitches. Pitching ticket includes all benefits of general admission. General admission attendees can listen to other’s pitches and learn for their future pitches.

 

Space is limited, so be sure to get your ticket early.

If you or your company is interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Nicole at ncouloute1@gmail.com.

Address of the event will be given to all ticket holders by the end of July. The event will be within 30 minutes of Bradley Airport.

 

Why Jen?

Writing the TV pilot is one of the most challenging scripts to write and to write well. Jen has helped in the development of thousands of scripts over the past 20 years. She was a Studio Executive at two significant studios for 12 years. She is currently a Writing Instructor at NBC and has been a Story/Career Consultant for ten years.

 

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN WRITING YOUR TV PILOT

  1.    Does my series trigger incident 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 set up the series?

 

Trigger & Dilemma

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 structure 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 action, hit an obstacle, and the stakes should escalate 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.

 

You will learn about these techniques in this class.

 

Jen Grisanti’s Bio:

 

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 and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success.

Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and 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 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 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 the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 900 writers specializing in television, features, and novels. Due to her expertise and mentorship, seventy-five of her writers have staffed on television shows, and 60 have sold pilots, five that that went to series. Also, she is an instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge.

Grisanti has taught classes for the “Change Your Story, Change Your Life” Writing/Yoga Retreat with Alta Retreats in Nicaragua, Rocaberti Writing Retreat in Spain, the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, TV Writers Summit (in LA, London and Israel), The TV Writers Studio (in Australia), Story Expo, The Big Island Film Festival, Chicago Screenwriters Network, Scriptwriters Network , Screenwriting Expo, the Great American Pitchfest, the Writers Store, the Northwestern Screenwriter’s Guild in Seattle, and the Alameda’s Writer’s Group. Also, she has served on panels for the WGA, iTVFest, UFVA, PGA, and The Writer’s Bootcamp, telling her story to inspire others.

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CREATING A SERIES CONCEPT THAT WORKS: ATYPICAL

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

Creating a Series Concept that Works: Atypical

Jen Grisanti analyzes the new Netflix series, ATYPICAL, exploring how structure can influence emotion and bring your audience to tears.


International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc., a Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former twelve-year studio executive, and author of Story Line, TV Writing Tool Kit, and Change Your Story, Change Your Life. Keep track of Jen’s upcoming events on Facebook and Twitter, @jengrisanti, and listen to her Storywise Podcast. Read Jen’s full bio and sign up for her Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot video series.

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I am constantly analyzing new series to see what works with story structure. One of my favorite new shows is Atypical on Netflix. I find this show explores in-depth familial dynamics at the same level as Friday Night Lights and This is Us. Understanding how structure can influence emotion and bring your audience to tears is what great storytelling is all about.

Structurally, a story tool that I’ve drawn from watching Atypical is the recognition that all the character arcs stem from the main problem of the main character and that sets up the series. It is when we feel it all linked, that story can reach such tremendous heights of emotion. This is because we feel the concept through all of the characters and the choices that they make. It often comes from the same wound but seeing it play out through different choices and different worldviews.


Script EXTRA: Finding Your Character’s Wound


The main problem in Atypical is that Sam, a young boy that has autism, expresses his to therapist his desire to date. The series/season 1 is about this choice and his family’s reaction to it. The story explores how love is hard enough for a “neuro-typical” person to experience. With Sam, this pursuit becomes a lot more complex but the gift of it all is showing that the desire is real and it is doable.

We watch Sam take actions and hit obstacles in his pursuit to find love from filling out an online profile to learning how to approach girls that might be interested. It really gives us a glimpse of how he sees the world and shows us how things that might be considered simple for us are that much more difficult for people with autism. Seeing Sam take actions towards finding love connects with all of us.

We immediately feel the father’s wound to his son’s autism when he mentions buying his son tickets to a Mets game simply because he wanted to find a way to connect with him. He wanted them to have one thing in common. So, his reaction to Sam’s choice to date is to support this. He reminds his wife that they met around Sam’s age. It is clear that he hopes this experience will bring him and Sam closer together.


Script EXTRA: ‘All is Lost’ Equals Opportunity for Character Growth


With Sam’s mom, Elsa, her reaction is panic because of her worry and the codependent relationship that she shares with her son. She clearly needs him to need her. So, the idea that he wants to find love, in her mind, threatens this. We see that Sam has become her life. This has gotten in the way of the intimacy that she and her husband share. The mother remains resistant despite the therapist sharing with her that autistic people have the same desire to love and be loved. They just don’t know how to approach it in a typical manner.

We see Sam’s problem play out in his sister, Casey’s arc when she punches a student that taunts another student. Casey is the protector. This is her role because of her brother’s condition and the fact that she is his older sister. We feel her angst. The irony is that it is due to her role in Sam’s life and this action she took that her first opportunity at love and romance comes into her life with Evan, who is the brother of the girl she protected.

Sam’s pursuit of love continues. When Sam gets an online response, we see the trials and tribulations that Sam has to go through in preparation for the date. When he hears that she wants to meet at a café, he has to find a way to block out the noise by wearing headphones. Sam hits an obstacle and the date doesn’t work out. Sam tries again when a girl at his work makes eyes toward him. This leads him into a situation where she offers to have sex with him. He hits an obstacle when she touches him in a way that he doesn’t like to be touched. This opportunity takes a turn for the worst.

When the parents go to dinner, we really see the opposing viewpoints to Sam finding love and the rift that it has caused in their relationship. This leads Sam’s father to buy his mother passes to a dance class. After class, she goes to drinks. This is when Elsa meets a bartender that opens her eyes to the fact that her son will never have the choices that he does. This begins an exploration toward finding intimacy.

In Casey’s budding connection with Evan, we see that Sam comes first in her life. This could cause a problem for the possibility of her finding a true connection with Evan.

When Sam learns that 49% of marriages end in divorce, Sam goes with his father to look at a place with penguins. Sam says that penguins mate for life. So, penguins aren’t like people. They’re better.

The structure in Atypical all stems from the main wound. This really works for connecting the audience to this concept and the characters in this world. This is a very strong story tool that all writers can learn to utilize for the concepts that they write.

More articles by Jen Grisanti

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INSIDE STORY: PERSONAL ARCS EQUATING TO PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS IN STORY

by on May.13, 2014, under Featured

Watching what works and why it works in TV is something that is a part of what I do for a living as a Story/Career Consultant for writers. I am always looking for ways to teach story that reflect the brilliant work that is currently being done on TV. I’ve noticed that the shows that draw strong audiences and that I find myself returning to week after week are shows that have strong serialized character arcs within the closed-ended professional arcs. The personal dynamics contribute to the central conflict of the show and create longevity. The audience responds to these character arcs emotionally, and when you touch an audience on an emotional level, like me, they want to return each week.

Shows that successfully utilize this formula include: The Blacklist, The Americans, The Good Wife, Scandal, Masters of Sex, House of Cards, and Ray Donovan, to name a few. People connect with personal struggle. So, if you create story arcs that contain a powerful question within the personal story that you answer by the end while showing the central character in pursuit of the professional arc, you add a depth of emotion and increase the rooting factor.

Connecting to emotional situations is what sets a new series apart from the pack. The key is creating character dynamics that drive the audience to return each week. If there is a strong central conflict in the personal lives of the characters, you increase your chances of ratings success. When there is a strong personal arc within a professional scenario, today’s audiences return week after week to discover more often than not, what happened in the personal situation.

The Good Wife is a strong example. When the show started, we were drawn to Alicia’s plight and the question: How is Alicia going to bring security back to her family after her husband, Peter, goes to jail for his involvment in a sex scandal and illegal activity? The answer came in the character of Will, her old flame that gave her a chance by hiring her to be a lawyer at his firm. The dynamics of the triangle between Alicia, Peter and Will really drew us in by creating questions about Alicia’s ability to be successful as a lawyer as well as what she would do given the opportunity to leave her husband for Will. The writers really knew how to utilize these questions from week to week while exploring legal cases at the firm. The triangle and how Alicia was going to play her role within it was very universal. You had those that rooted for Alicia and Will and others that rooted for Alicia and Peter. With the major change that happened this season, what drew us in was a new question: How will Alicia emotionally respond to what happened and how will this affect her marriage with Peter? When you explore powerful emotional questions between the characters at home while they are in the midst of professional pursuits, you build your audience.

A recent episode of The Blacklist, posed the question, “Did Red kill Liz’s father?” The exploration of this question along with the existing dynamic of their relationship elevates the professional story to a whole new level because we understand the conflict that is going on in their personal relationship. This season, the writers also explored the personal story arc between Liz and her husband, Tom. Red warns her about Tom, but Liz doesn’t listen. Then, when Liz realizes that Red was right about Tom, it opens up a whole new can of worms. Liz’s relationships with Red and Tom provide an emotional core to a show that has a professional goal that usually opens and shuts each week.

In Ray Donovan, you wonder how far Ray will go to keep his father who gets out of prison in the pilot, away from his family. All the familial dysfunction of a broken childhood unravels during the series. We see what fuels Ray in his profession as a “fixer” for his celebrity clients. Ray feels he failed at fixing things in his own home because he didn’t protect his brother from being sexually molested by a priest. His memories of a broken family drive him to fix things for other people through his work. When the writers juxtapose Ray’s desire to “fix” against the demons that he faces in his personal life story, they create a series that draws us in and makes us want to return each week to see what happens.

Masters of Sex gives an inside look at the sexual tension between Masters and Johnson, the pioneers of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution. Seeing the sexual tension in their own relationship is mesmerizing to watch each week, as they make ground breaking professional strides in the understanding of human sexuality. The show draws us in because we want to see how their personal connection to each other leads to their professional breakthroughs in the area of sex. This show takes place in the 1950s, yet the conflict between the personal and the professional is something that we can all connect with no matter what the time period.

When you give people an inside view of who your characters are and what fuels them to do what they do, you create a connection. Your audience will return each week to experience this connection. In today’s television landscape, the personal arcs in your story are the key to the professional success of your series.

 

 

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