The New Works Playhouse Workshops: The Craft of the Pilot by Devin Tupper

Join our workshop on The Craft of the Pilot by Devin Tupper.
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The New Works Playhouse Workshops: The Craft of the Pilot by Devin Tupper

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01 May, 13:00 – 14:30 BST
Zoom

About

The New Works Playhouse Workshops: The Craft of the Pilot by Devin Tupper

Max 10 participants 

Overall Structure  

Following up from the TV Ready workshop, The Craft of the Pilot will introduce writers to the difficult yet rewarding task of crafting a television pilot. Streamers have redefined and revised the television pilot but there are some universal forms and storytelling techniques that go into creating a pilot episode. In the world of TV, the pilot is your calling card, it is the first impression when introducing your writing to the industry. The most difficult part about it, though, is that you’re not just showing your writing but your ability to plan and imply a story that may not necessarily have immediate pay-offs. This workshop will show creators how to plan and write a pilot while paying close attention to creating narratives that can be resolved within the pilot – to achieve satisfying storytelling – while also setting up future stories and conflict. As someone in television development, I’ve seen all types of pilots and have a firm understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and how this can change from market to market. This is not a  prescriptive methodology but a means to understand and provide tools that will allow writers to craft a pilot that can accomplish their intentions while demonstrating their understanding of what a pilot should do.   

Learning Objectives  

  • Understand the differences between structures of TV pilots. 
  • Highlight the differences in structures and how that is applied to the overall plotting of a series and how that can affect the index cards tool.    
  • Participants will learn what a good TV pilot should accomplish, narratively, while also acting as a representation for the series as a whole – it’s important when writing a pilot to understand that you are writing something that is inherently incomplete, and will always be incomplete, but must be written in a way that conveys completion.    
  • Inform participants how to analyze and assess current television pilots and how they follow, and break, the rules previously established.    
  • Participants should finish the workshop with new creative tools to help them in crafting a TV pilot, or any narrative medium, as the index cards can be applied universally across genres and aesthetics.    

Interactive Workshop  

The Idea   

If you come from the previous workshop or have your idea ready to go or a pilot was already written, we’ll review the different structures of TV and formats to decide the length of a pilot. Is it a sitcom, a drama, or something in-between? Form dictates your act structure and how you will plan to write the pilot.   

Exercise:  Take your idea and break it into the appropriate act structure: Is it a sitcom? Then we’re looking at a teaser and two acts. Is it a drama? Are we using a teaser and four acts or a five-act structure?   

Work and discussion (30 min)   

The Universal Tool   

We’re talking about index cards – how to use them for TV and how they can be the most effective for you.  What needs to be on each card? How does the layout of your series depend on who you’re pitching it to? Look at the layout of your series, is it character led or is there a particular timeline you wish to follow? This will dictate how your cards are set up.   

Exercise:  With pen and paper, and the structure established, let’s do the card of an opening scene. (20 min)   

Discuss (10 min)   

The Written Word   

How do we effectively translate our cards to actually writing a scene? What does a particular scene need to do in a pilot? A scene should either develop a character, move the plot forward, OR seed a future storyline (but this storyline must be “immediately evident” and we will need to know how so, an example will be used.)   

Exercise: write the scene from the card (20 min)    

Discuss (10 min)   

Review how the scene is translated from each individual’s card – what works and what doesn’t?   

Wrap up 

 

Review learning objectives, take questions, final note: When writing a pilot, showing that you know the forms, and understand the structures, instills confidence in the reader that you know what you’re doing. And at the end of the day, as new writers, that’s what you need to sell.   (10-20 min depending on the number of questions)    

Estimated length Approx 1hr 30mins  

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DEVIN TUPPER  Devin Tupper is a trained screenwriter who’s worked as a script editor over the past six years. He was an assistant script editor on the thirteen-part, one-hour series, Ransom (2017), for Big Light Productions, and script editor on the series, The Window, for Boogie Entertainment. Between these shows, he’s worked in developmental positions as a story editor in Los Angeles and script editor at UK-based independent production companies, working with writers at varying points in their careers to get their ideas from page to screen.  

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