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WSP 321 — TV Writer for a Day: Crafting a Television Series Pilot

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Sunday
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Oct 6
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Sep 29
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $240
Instructor(s): Adam Tobin
Limit: 21
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Oct 6
1 day
Drop By
Sep 29
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Adam Tobin
From Black Mirror to Black-ish, This Is Us to Westworld, 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 Netflix, Amazon, FX, and even web series? This one-day intensive workshop 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 lecture, clips, and discussion. Whether you’re a TV addict or an experienced writer, come spend the day getting a taste of what it means to be “in the writers’ room.”

All experience levels are welcome.

Adam Tobin, Senior Lecturer, Film & Media Studies Program, Stanford

Adam Tobin is a screenwriter, playwright, and actor. He created the sitcom About a Girl and the reality show Best Friend’s Date for Viacom’s TeenNick (formerly The N channel) and has written for ABC, ESPN, and the Discovery Channel. Most recently Tobin has written the script and lyrics for the play She Persisted, the Musical, based on Chelsea Clinton’s children’s book. Tobin has taught story and pitching seminars at DreamWorks Animation, Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios, and Aardman Animations. He received an MFA in screenwriting 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.