notes from jen grisanti’s tv pilot class at the pitchfest

i went to pitchfest (GAPF) this weekend and attended some of their free classes. here are my notes from “Writing The TV Pilot Script” with Jen Grisanti. i haven’t read her book, but people said she basically went over what was in her book.

jen thinks a logline should contain these elements:

  • setup of who
  • create empathy
  • dilemma
  • action
  • goal
  • twist of irony

add fiction to your truth to find your voice.
your life is the well of your story.

think of some pivotal moments in your life.

establish why now? why me?

why me = why are you the only writer who can write this pilot?

dilemma. jen described it as putting the character “between a rock and a hard place”. character must make a choice, and through that choice, character is revealed.

make sure it’s clear who your central character is. even if it’s ensemble piece, one character is emphasized.

what does your central character want? she said many people can’t answer this question, and she said people don’t know what they want in their own life.

what is the wound that drives character, and what is the flaw that gets in the way?

for the structure, every act out should be an obstacle that connects back to the goal.

she said the first 3/4 of the story, the character responds from ego. the last 1/4, the character responds from spirit. there should also be a philosophical element, where the character wants something for the greater good.

5 tips for writing a pilot.

  • dilemma
  • empathy. we must care about the characters.
  • clear goal, and actions taken. too often, characters are just reacting.
  • external and internal stakes. what is the worst that can happen if the goal is not achieved?
  • why now? why me?

when pitching your pilot, talk about:

  • what inspired the story (why me)
  • series logline
  • pilot logline
  • the characters
  • get into the opening of the pilot, or describe the overall show
  • be passionate.

she recommended the book, Writing the Pilot by william rabkin, especially the section on conflict. i also recommend the book.

if anyone else was at the panel and wants to add to this, please just leave additional notes in the comments.

i’ll have more notes from the other classes soon.

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