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CW 09 — TV Writer for a Day: Crafting a Series Pilot

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Oct 29—Nov 5
Time: 9:30 am—12:00 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 22
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $255
Instructor(s): Adam Tobin
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
9:30 am—12:00 pm (PT)
Oct 29—Nov 5
2 days
Refund Date
Oct 22
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Adam Tobin
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
From Black Mirror to Black-ish, from Ted Lasso to I May Destroy You, some of the most compelling stories today are created in TV writers' rooms. But 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? And what does “TV” mean when traditional networks battle the big streamers and TikTok? This course will introduce you to the form and content of writing a TV pilot. We will start with a general discussion of the current landscape of TV and the forms that TV series can take—comedy versus drama, hour versus half-hour, commercial versus streaming, single-camera versus multicam, serial versus episodic. We will then move on to the concept of a “franchise” of a series and the underlying premise material of a show, with exercises that will help you develop your own specific TV idea. Finally, we will discuss plot and structure, with an eye toward shaping your pilot episode. Short writing exercises will be interspersed among lectures, clips, and discussion. Whether you’re a TV addict or an experienced writer, or both, you'll get a taste of what it means to be “in the writers' room.”

Senior Lecturer, Film and Media Studies, Stanford

Adam Tobin is a screenwriter, playwright, and actor. 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 has also written the script and lyrics for She Persisted, The Musical, a New York Times Critics' Pick based on Chelsea Clinton’s book. Tobin has taught story seminars at DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, and Aardman Animations. He 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.