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CW 09 — In the Writer’s Room: Start Your TV Pilot Script

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Feb 1—Feb 8
Time: 6:00—8:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 25
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $270
Instructor(s): Adam Tobin
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:00—8:30 pm (PT)
Feb 1—Feb 8
2 days
Refund Date
Jan 25
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Adam Tobin
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
From Abbott Elementary to Succession, The Bear to The Diplomat, some of the most compelling storytelling done today is on television. But what does “television” mean when traditional networks battle Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and TikTok? How do you wrangle an idea into a series? What exactly is needed from a pilot and how does it sustain and evolve over seasons?

This two-day intensive course will introduce you to the form and content of writing for television. We will discuss the different forms of TV series—comedy versus drama, hour versus half-hour, commercial versus streaming, single-camera versus multicam, serial versus episodic—and see how those decisions affect your dramatic material. We will explore the “franchise” of a series, and thereby develop your own idea. We will also cover basic storytelling concepts that underpin any good filmed story: character, goal, flaw, structure. And we will discuss how an idea works its way through the entertainment business to get on screen, giving context to the recent strikes in Los Angeles. Short writing exercises will be interspersed among lecture, clips, and discussion. Whether you’re a TV addict or an experienced writer, you'll get a taste of what it means to be “in the writers’ room.”

This course is appropriate for writers of all experience levels.

Senior Lecturer, Film and Media Studies, Stanford

Adam Tobin is a screenwriter and playwright. He created the series About a Girl and Best Friend’s Date for Viacom’s TeenNick (formerly The N channel) and received an Emmy for his work on Cash Cab. Tobin also wrote the script and lyrics for She Persisted, The Musical, a New York Times Critic's Pick, based on Chelsea Clinton’s book. He has taught story seminars at DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, and Aardman Animations. Tobin received an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.