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WRITING A TV PILOT THAT SELLS with Jen Grisanti

CLASS DESCRIPTION

 WRITING A TV PILOT THAT SELLS with Jen Grisanti - FULL DAY SEMINAR & WORKSHOP

  

If you want to be the creator of the next Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Lost, Orange Is The New Black, Empire, Grey's Anatomy, the list goes on, you need to learn how to write a pilot that sells! 

 

How do you create characters that audiences must watch week after week? How do you create complexity in those characters? How do you create an emotional attachment from the audience to those characters? How do you create powerful act breaks that leave your audience on the edge of their seats? How do you set up the end of your pilot so it can carry on for years? How do you create a logline or pitch so that you can sell your brilliant idea to a network? 

These are just some of questions Jen will answer in this Master Series Seminar. She will teach you the tools that will elevate your game and increase your opportunities because Jen believes that in order to go from a non-working writer to a working writer, you have to write a pilot that hits it out of the ballpark!

 

This is the first of many ISA Master Series Seminars coming to you monthly so REGISTER TODAY to improve you chances of breaking in!

 

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Jen Grisanti is a Story/Career Consultant, Writing Instructor of Writers on the Verge at NBC and former twelve-year studio executive has learned what it takes to transform a non-working writer into a working writer. She gained valuable working experience as the VP of Current Programing at CBS Paramount Network Television, Inc. and Head of Current Programs for Aaron Spelling's company, Spelling Television, Inc. During her tenure Jen worked with producers and writers on the execution of shows such as: Medium, Numbers, NCIS, Girlfriends, Charmed, Seventh Heaven, Melrose Place, 90210 and many more. She has helped to launch countless writing careers over the last twenty-five years. FORTY OF HER CLIENTS HAVE SOLD PILOTS and five of them have gone to series. Jen's system for telling and selling story has also led to SEVENTY-FIVE OF HER WRITERS GETTING STAFFED. Watch Video Intro.

 

                  

 

If you have a desire to write a script that will get you staffed and to sell a pilot and create a career as a working writer, you don't want to miss this Master Series Seminar.

 

  SATURDAY JUNE 11, 2016 

8:00 a.m. - Doors Open

 

8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

I. SETTING UP STRUCTURE AND CHARACTER

 

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

II. WORKSHOP - PILOT WORKSHEET

 

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

LUNCH - Included in registration fee.

 

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

III. TELLING THE INTERNAL STORY - HOW TO ELEVATE EMOTION

 

2:30 pm - 3:30 p.m.

IV. WORKSHOP - WRITING LOG LINES FOR YOUR LIFE AND FOR YOUR SCRIPT

 

3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

HAPPY HOUR - Included in registration fee. Enjoy a few free drinks and mingle with Jen and other students. This is a great opportunity to ask Jen some additional questions or discuss what you learned with other writers.  

 

           --- CLASS BREAKDOWN ----

I. SETTING UP STRUCTURE AND CHARACTER

 

CHARACTER

Jen will work with you on how to create complex characters that have wounds and flaws and connect with the audience in a universal way.

• Understand the Wound and The Flaw Of Your Characters

• What Is Your Character's World View?

• Connection Between The Personal Dilemma and The Professional Pursuit

• Examples of Strong Characters From Shows

 

Writing characters that the audience wants to return to every week is one of the biggest challenges that pilot writers face. In this section, we will go over some of the tools that I've used with writers that have led them to success. By going through these tools and giving examples from current shows, it will help the writer to understand what goes into writing memorable, complex and flawed characters.

 

SETTING UP STRONG CHARACTER DYNAMICS

• What Are The Main Character Dynamics in Your Story?

• How to Develop Character Dynamics

• Examples of Strong Character Dynamics in Pilots

Your character dynamics very often contribute to whether people want to return to see episode #2. I often tell writers to think about what is the inside story. For example, the character dynamics in THE GOOD WIFE between Alicia, Peter and Will are a large part of what made the audience want to return to the show. Peter betrays Alicia and goes to jail. Alicia loses her breadwinner and needs to figure out how to bring security back to her family. Will, a former law school sweetheart, gives her an opportunity to work in his firm. By understanding how to create a strong internal story with the character dynamics, you elevate your story.

 

STRUCTURE AND LINKING
Through understanding how to link these three elements, you will learn how to set the foundation in your story, have an active lead and elevate the emotion to a whole new level.

TRIGGER - By creating a powerful trigger incident for your series, you will create a strong season arc and this will establish longevity for your concept.

A strong pilot trigger is what carries the first episode. Linking the pilot trigger to the series trigger makes the difference between a good pilot and a great one. You need to clearly set up that the pilot trigger would not have happened unless the series trigger happened.


Jen will go over several pilots that have done this successfully.


DILEMMA - The trigger incident should push your central character into a dilemma. The choice that is made in this dilemma is what will define the external goal.


The dilemma should be strong enough that we understand that there is not an easy choice on either side of the dilemma. This is what will create empathy and a rooting factor for your central character.


Jen will also discuss the set up of the personal dilemma and how to link it to the professional pursuit. This will elevate the emotion in your story.


PURSUIT - The clear set up of the goal is the glue that will hold your story together. By clearly setting up what your central character wants, you can link your obstacle, escalating obstacle, and "all is lost" moment back to the goal. This will help you to write stronger act breaks. It is when the goal is unclear that the story doesn't work.


In every scene, we should have a clear sense of what your central character wants and why they want it. Setting up a clear pursuit will help you to establish this.

SETTING UP THE SERIES

• How do you set up your series?

• How to add a complication in a character dynamic after the resolution moment.

• Give examples of pilots that set up the series in a strong way.

Writers will learn how to set up the series at the end of the script. Setting up your series at the end of your pilot arc is key to the success of your script selling. I will discuss how a strong added complication at the end sets up why we want to come back to see your series.

 

WRITING STRONG ACT BREAKS

• How To Utilize Action, Obstacle and Stakes At The Break

• How To Couple Hitting An Obstacle In The Internal and External Story Arc

• How To End The Act On A Question and Answer The Question At The Top Of The Next Act

• Understanding The Function of the Act Break 

In this section, I will go through how to write strong and powerful act breaks. By understanding the sequence of actions taken toward the goal, obstacles hit and elevation of the stakes, writers will learn how to write an act break that has impact. By understanding that the purpose of the break is to leave your audience hanging so that they will want to return, you will see how to write toward this.


II. WORKSHOP - PILOT WORKSHEET

Jen will then have writers fill out her Pilot Worksheet:

• What is your trigger incident?

• What is your dilemma?

• What is the external goal that stems from your dilemma in the A story?

• Write a log line for your series.

• Write a log line for your pilot.

• Write the trigger incident, dilemma and goal for your B story.

• Write down what your act breaks will be.

• Write down the actions that will be taken in each arc toward the pursuit of the goal.

• Write down the external and internal stakes for each arc.

• What is the symbolic moment when the goal in the A story is achieved?

• How do you set up your series?

III. TELLING THE INTERNAL STORY - HOW TO ELEVATE EMOTION

What Is The Emotional Fuel Driving Your Character?

• Building the Internal Arc

• Connecting the personal dilemma to the professional pursuit.

• Understand the Why

• Examples of Pilots That Have Strong Internal Stories

Emotion is what will connect you to your audience. In this section, we will discuss how you can utilize the emotional fuel of your central character through setting up how the personal dilemma links to the professional pursuit. I will also discuss the building of the internal arc. When you understand the internal desire, it allows you to escalate the stakes in both an internal and an external way.


IV. WORKSHOP - WRITING LOG LINES FOR YOUR LIFE AND FOR YOUR SCRIPT

During this section, Jen will teach you how to write Log Lines For Your Life, Log Lines for your Characters and Log Lines for your Story Arcs utilizing the following formula:

• SET UP OF WHO (CREATE EMPATHY)

• DILEMMA

• ACTION

• GOAL

• TWIST OF IRONY

 

Jen will also have you write up life story arcs that will be beneficial to your meetings.

• Starting Dilemma

• External Goal

• Thematic Question

• Actions Taken

• Obstacles Hit

• Stakes - External and Internal

• Attainment of Goal

 

    SPONSORS OF SEMINAR

 

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Jen's unique and inspired contribution to the TV Writers Studio went above and beyond anything we imagined, both as a teacher and as a professional mentor . With her unique blend of spiritual, psychological and professional wisdom, she offered practical and effective ways to connect to your authentic voice and bring emotional resonance to your work. Jen was a crowd favorite for the hundreds of attendees - highly professional, motivated, warm, she is a joy to work with. We can't wait to get her back in Australia again! - Annie MacArthur, Producer - Epiphany International Artists P/L

 

"Jen Grisanti is at the master class level. She has impeccable industry credentials, a sharp intellect, and a compelling personal vision-all of which she combines in her unique and results proven approach to writing and craft." - John Mason Film Commissioner, Hawaii

 

Jen Grisanti was an absolute godsend this season of Writers on the Verge. Her warmth and insight in the note-giving process led to constructive workshops, and amazing scripts. Jen has an incredible eye for story, character and dialogue. She went above and beyond the call of duty, really getting to know the participants, catering her process to their individual styles and talents. She's an incredible lady who genuinely cares about shaping each piece to its fullest potential. - Erika Kennair, Creator of NBC's Writers on the Verge Program/ Director of Development Sci-Fi Channel

 

I had the fortune of discovering Jennifer Grisanti Consulting just before it was time to submit my pilot for a writing program. It is almost comical that I was confident with my pilot prior to our consultation. Needless to say, I walked away from our meeting not only with great feedback, but also a unique structural point of view that I will forever filter my future projects through. She was amazingly easy to talk to, keyed in on every facet of story, and able to break down the story structure into an equation that is a one size fits all. I can confidently say that all my future projects will house her lovely fingerprint.- Joshua Faulkner, Writer


Jen Grisanti gave me the tools to mine my own experiences and translate them into any genre. She has a rare expertise in crafting story with both emotional depth and efficient structure... And what's more, she's an ace at teaching others how to do it.
Gina Monreal, Executive Story Editor - NCIS


"Jen coached me through a script that helped me land a top agent and a gig writing for a big network sitcom. Because of her, I never start breaking story on a pilot until I figure out my main character's dilemma. I never blow an act without thinking ‘is this an obstacle to the goal?' Her methods and terminology have seeped into my writing process because they work. They get me meetings and jobs. Simple as that."
 - Isaac Gonzalez, Writer - Community


"What makes Jen Grisanti such a great teacher isn't that she teaches you to ‘write what you know'; it's that she teaches you to know who you are. And that's the greatest lesson any writer can learn."

Benjamin Raab, Writer/co-producer - Warehouse 13


Jen's philosophy on loglines has been a tremendous help both on and off the page. Before one word is written, it hones you in on what your story is about and becomes a contract between writer and script. Equally important, it articulates an idea to others in a concise, but effective manner - an invaluable tool for writers of all stripes.  - Brian Anthony, Writer - Army Wives

 

"A lot of instructors preach ‘write what you know,' but Jen's method is more ‘write what you feel.' She recognizes that every writer has unique experiences from which to draw, and she helps you access those experiences so you can turn them into stories that have a beating heart on the page."
Rick Muirragui, Co-Producer - Suits


"Even after five years working in television, I use Jen's TV Pilot worksheet as a guide for my original work as well as the shows I'm writing for. Story is story, no matter what the format or medium, and to this day, I haven't found a better way to assess whether I'm simply putting a bunch or words on a page, or telling a story that has the potential to make people feel something magical."TJ Brady, Co-Producer - Army Wives


Jen's teachings transformed the way I write, and how I approach every aspect of creating and challenging my characters. From the specs I've written to the shows I work for, the methods I've taken from her lessons permeate throughout. Whether it be for an original pilot or feature, a show about monsters, or a show about a superhero, the focus remains the same: make the characters relatable. Make them human beings who go through obstacles that transform them. Keep them grounded and real by channeling my own life experience, and keep them driven towards clear but difficult goals.  - Keto Shimizu, Executive Story Editor - Arrow

 

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