PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Semi-Finalists!

26th PEOPLE’S PILOT SEMI-FINALISTS
For contest ending November 1, 2017

COMEDY SERIES SEMI-FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

ADORBZ by Marci Buehler

ALLENTOWN by Terry Gehring

BEARD MOUNTAIN by Erica Lies

BITCHES IN SEASON by Sasha Feiler

CHOSEN by Cody Varney

CON HEADS by Steve Boudreault

GFA (GREAT F’ING ADVICE) by George Tonelli

MADE TO ORDER by Dan Ingram

SINGLE SEX by Claire Bostrom

THE CHEDDARBOX EXPRESS by Allie Theiss

THE PINSTRIPED PRIMATES by Kenneth Kleeman

THE WINTER WHITE HOUSE by Merdith Bagby

TIL DEATH DOES PART US by Terry Gehring

TRINITY LOFT by Roland Zistler

DRAMA & ACTION SERIES SEMI-FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

AFTER WE FALL by Gustave Cadet & Jacob Chattman

CONNECTION by Jace Lacob

DRIVEN by Susan Hippen

NORIEGA by Juan Francisco de la Guardia

ORLONDSKI IS MISSING by Hank Isaac

SHADOWS by Anne Marie Caluwaert

SIDEKICK: THE RED RAPTOR FILES by Christopher Valin

SONS OF WITCHES by Eugene Ramos

STRUCK by Elaine F. Chekich

SUPER by Kathryn Graham

THE CHOIR SINGER by Barry M. Putt Jr.

THE MEEK by Steven Zurline

THE NAKED EYE by Sean Skelton

THE SHARP CO. by Joe Lee

THE STRANGE REALITY OF SALLY PARKER by Diana Black

TO BE SEEN by Susan Hippen

WRECKAGE by Ryan Stack


TVWriter™ congratulates all the Semi-Finalists. Your work is awesome.

We keep saying this, but that’s because it’s true: This time around, the overall quality of the entries greatly exceeded our expectations. Last year, we explained how difficult it was for the judges to make their decisions by pointing out that literally every Semi-Finalist in that year’s competition could have been a Top 5 placer in previous runnings of the PEOPLE’S PILOT. This year, the same holds true.

This time around, the median entry score in the Comedy Script category was a whopping 7.95, while the median Drama & Action category score was  7.75. Inasmuch as the PEOPLE’S PILOT considers a score of 7.00 as signifying Professional quality, it’s clear that on the whole the PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 entries were Very Professional Indeed.

In short, we believe that all of those who entered this year should be very proud of themselves…and hope that at the very least all of the Semi-Finalists above will treat themselves to the most awesome celebration they can!

NEXT WEEK: The 2017 PEOPLE’S PILOT Finalists

Secrets of the TV writers’ room: inside Narcos, Transparent and Silicon Valley

Everything – within reason – that we’ve all wanted to know about how some of the top shows on TV are written today. Let’s put it together for showrunners Eric Newman, Jill Soloway, and Alec Berg, not to mention the kindly folk at The Guardian.

by Tim Adams

Every age creates its signature way of telling and consuming stories. The Jacobeans had the blood and lust of popular tragedy. The Victorians had the great social novel. The 1960s had new journalism. The chosen form of our own age is the downloaded serial drama. While the energy and ambition of screenwriters was for nearly a century invested in two-hour feature films, for the past 10 years, ever since The Wire and The Sopranos and The West Wing showed what might be possible, it has been in the 10-hour arcs, and annual seasons of streamed drama.

Those shows – Scandi-noir, Game of Thrones (and its progeny), Breaking Bad and the rest – have created a new kind of relation between creators and viewers. The stories are made not only for total immersion, but also presuppose the potential for binge-watching. Since Netflix started uploading whole series, days and nights are lost to the “just one more episode” of unfolding dramas, in the way that we might once have been invited to lose ourselves in books.

The idea of bingeing on drama has some negative connotations, but the facts suggest that far from seeing this habit as time wasted, we tend to think of it as fulfilling in the way that time devoted to great fiction always was. In 2013, Netflixdid a study into why 73% of viewers felt overwhelming feelings of comfort when immersed in these dramas. The company sent an anthropologist, Grant McCracken, into viewers’ homes to discover the reasons for this: “TV viewers are no longer zoning out as a way to forget about their day, they are tuning in, on their own schedule, to a different world. Getting immersed in multiple episodes or even multiple seasons of a show over a few weeks is a new kind of escapism that is especially welcome.” The usual attention deficit of the internet was replaced by something more complex and satisfying.

The huge demand for such shows and the intense rivalry between Netflix and Amazon, in particular, to create has led to a new kind of mythologised creative space: the writers’ room. The creative pressures of producing multiple series of 10-hour dramas in short order have changed the dynamic of traditional scriptwriting practice. Rather than pairs of writers, or single auteurs, the collective and the collaborative is not only prized but essential.

As favourite shows build their own addictive fanbases – more fragmented than the audience for broadcast TV ever was, but often more cultishly engaged – the writers’ room, the place where the drama begins and ends, has become the subject of intense curiosity and scrutiny. The room is largely an American creation, a development of the comedy bunkhouses that produce The Simpsons or Saturday Night Live. Inevitably there are websites and blogs and memes devoted to gossip about these sacred and profane spaces, places to get a fix of favourite dramas before the next series is uploaded. Some shows – Orange Is the New Blackand The Good Wife pioneered the practice – provide the backstory to the genesis and creation scenes in live Twitter feeds, with whiteboards and interview links and photos.

What they mostly reveal is that having ideas – even in groups – and writing them up into scripts is no less painful and laborious than it ever was, but that it now has a kind of endless forward motion….

Read it all at The Guardian

Live in the L.A. Area? JOIN THE WGAW FOR THE WOMEN’S MARCH

Writers need to do more than sit and write. We need to live active, caring, involved and strong lives. TVWriter™ highly recommends the following involvement:

John August’s Writer Emergency Pack

Found: The Christmas gift you wish your BFF had given you! Fortunately, even though we’re already marching through January, it isn’t too late.

John August, one of the most successful screenwriters ever (want proof? click HERE), still has a few deck of his Writer Emergency Pack left from the holidays, and you probably can talk him into selling you one, or maybe even two.

WTF are we talking about?

Glad you asked. Here’s the dope, straight from the horse (that would be the illustrious Mr. August)’s mouth:

Writer Emergency Pack is a deck full of useful ideas to help get your story back on track.

Creative writing can be challenging. When you’re working on a story, you’re not just trying to decide what word comes next, but what idea comes next.

It’s easy to get stuck.

Writers have many techniques for pushing past these problems — little nudges and prompts to help get the story clicking.

Writer Emergency Pack is a curated collection of some of the most useful suggestions I’ve encountered. It’s by writers, for writers.

The cards themselves are designed to be practical, and “immediately useful” to anybody writing fiction. They focus on story, character, and conflict, and include not only specifics on how to structure your work but also some really great (hey, we think they should all be framed) illustrations.

We at TVWriter™ believe the Emergency Pack is the next best thing to hanging out with a true master. Check ’em out – better yet, buy ’em for $19 plus shipping – HERE

Happy, erm, Emergency Packing!

LB’s Choices for the 2018 WGA Writing Awards

by Larry Brody

The 2018 Writers Guild Awards will be  given out next month. It’s pretty much a given that a lot of you won’t agree with me, but in the interests of total disclosure and all that hooey, here’s the Writers Guild Award ballot I just filled out:

By all means feel free to dispute my choices in the comments!

Intel has a Screenwriting Gig For You

Sometimes you find writing jobs in the weirdest places. Case in point, this call for a “script writing intern” at Intel:

Here’s what Intel has to say on their website:

Intel Software TV Script Writing Intern

Job Description

Come and join the Software and Services Group SSG as an Intern and work with the Intel Software TV Team as part of the Developer Content Team.

The responsibilities will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The candidate will work with ISTV production staff to write scripts and copy for videos targeting our software developer audience.
  • The candidate will work within several of our distribution and archival tools to ensure they are up to date, and utilized correctly.

The ideal candidate should exhibit the following behavioral traits:

  • Be detail oriented, and able to follow instruction while being able to be task completion oriented.
  • Research, develop and document technical information.
  • Able to analyze technical content and to maintain continuity of style within newly generated content.

Qualifications

You must possess the below minimum qualifications to be initially considered for this position. Experience listed below would be obtained through a combination of your school work/classes/research and/or relevant previous job and/or internship experiences.

Minimum Requirements:

Must be pursuing a bachelor degree in film, video or related field.

Applicants must have a legal right to work in the US without sponsorship.

Minimum of 6 months experience with:

  • Planning, develop, organized, write and edit online video
  • Technical terminology and cinematic
  • Attach your writing portfolio or reel in your job application

Preferred Qualifications

Have some understanding to learn the backend of multiple video distribution platforms.

Inside this Business Group

The Intel Software and Services Group (SSG) connects Intel to the worldwide software community. SSG strives to bring competitive advantage to Intel platforms by helping independent software vendors, operating system developers, OEMs, channel members and systems integrators deliver exceptional customer value and achieve differentiation on Intel® processor technologies. SSG provides global leadership to the software community through its technical expertise, industry enabling activities, and developer products and programs.

The full job description is HERE

The application form is HERE

If you give this a shot, please let us know what happens!

 

Peggy Bechko: Getting Under Your Characters’ Skin

by Peggy Bechko

 

Characters!

They’re pretty darn important to story whether novel or script. I mean, let’s face it, we’re not telling stories about a tree that just stands there. Heck, even the Ents in Lord of the Rings were developed characters.

But there are a lot of problems with characters in stories and how they’re developed.

Fact is, women think differently and act differently than men. It’s tough either way – whether a woman writer is developing a male character or a man is developing a female character it gets tricky.

Traditionally, it’s been the female character who’s gotten the ‘short end of the stick’.

In case you haven’t heard, many female stars complain they can’t find strong female roles out there. Lots of readers complain about the female leads in novels turning out to be little more than some kind of appendage to the stronger male lead.

Not surprising, really. Think about it. Stories so very often focus on a male hero. Whether in books or scripts. That’s the way it is.

All too often the woman has a minor role or is constantly in need of rescue or screams a lot, or is some type of arm decoration for the hero or villain. Female stars have been known to take over what was written for a man. Remember Evelyn Salt? How about Ripley in Alien(s) etc.?

So let’s talk about how to write better characters for those favorite female stars you love, or for that matter how to write better female characters for your novels.

Where to start? How about by considering your characters a people, individuals with lives before you think of them as man or woman? Hard to do? Well, if it was easy I wouldn’t be writing this.

Here are some things to keep in mind. As a human being, your character needs to be well rounded and whole. There are times when the character is funny; other times when that character is serious. Success finds that person and so does failure, and there are times when the character does something really, really smart, and times when she or he does something pointless or stupid.

Don’t forget your character has a past, like any other real, live person. And, if he or she doesn’t end up dead by the end of your script or novel, a future. The things your character has done in the past influence what they do now and forevermore.

Always remember that the characters are existing within the framework of the time you’ve delineated. BUT to be real they also have to exist outside of the framework of the story you’re telling.

Now, since we’re focusing on punching up the female character here, I’ll just say it. Don’t create a stereotype.

We’ve all done it. But from now on, don’t. Of course there are stories and situations that lean toward a male or a female. Period pieces can be even more difficult if the writer remains true to the period. For example, if the story is set in world war II women were nurses and did heroic things during the bombing of cities and other places, but they simply were not soldiers.

Unless the story is going to be set in an alternate timeline or some other SciFi trick, it will be awkward for a woman to be a grunt soldier in that context. Just something to keep in mind.

Another little trick to help with writing a female character is to keep in mind that if you have two female characters talking to each other – it should be, at least some of the time, about something more than a man. Seriously, using the war setting – there would be more to talk about between women than a man.

Think about it. People, all of us, talk about a whole lot of things. Hobbies, books, things we’ve ready, the latest political debacle, family stuff that drives us crazy, you know, the stuff of our lives. Remember that when writing for your female lead.

Since your characters are people they deserve the depth real people have. Unless your story hinges on some guy being a mindless, empty macho man, don’t make him that kind of guy – and if the story hinges on him remember to reveal why he’s like that.

Same goes for our woman character. Sure, there are lots of brain-dead bimbos who only want nothing more than marriage and a guy to support her, oh, and babies! But the same goes for her – whether novel or script – if she is that person and important to your story, WHY is she that way? And make that bit of backstory good!

And lets ’pull back on the physical details. Only if it’s very important and pertinent to the script do you use something like “she’s a stunning blonde”. Scripts are short. Are you going to waste those precious lines on an unimportant physical trait when you could better use the space to indicate something about her?

There’s a bit more leeway in a novel, but how many times have we waded through pages and pages of unnecessary description? Give your readers and audience more solid information about who the character really is. Give them something better than stereotypes.

Give them depth.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.