I knew, more or less, what this script was going to be. A “fish out of water” story. First year teacher gets his mind blown by the system… but what about format? One-hour drama? Half-hour comedy? Some hybrid? Would there be profanity? How ‘real’ would the dialogue be?
The first, easy answer, was as real as possible. So immediately, I figured network TV was out. Great, already narrowing the options.
It’d been awhile since I attempted a TV script, so as a primer, I attended a TV script workshop at the New York City Screenwriter’s Collective (NYCSC), a long-running script workshop & development group. This also happens to be the place I met my girlfriend (now fiancé). I’ve been a member for a long time, but had only been to screenwriting workshops, so it was my first TV workshop. It was very helpful, particularly in considering layout, act breaks, A/B/C story, etc…
Afterward, I was talking with David Negrin, the founder of NYCSC, specifically about format. He mentioned that the 1/2 hour dramedy is gaining popularity, particularly with streaming networks. It’s cheaper to produce and easier for viewers to digest.
1/2 hour dramedy sounded perfect.
I also decided to set the pilot during Summer School. That way, I wouldn’t need a full staff of teachers or, more importantly, 300-600 students to fill the void. I could focus on a few primary characters.
At some point, I know I’ll need a school, and Summer will be an easier time to get that as well.
Setting? Obviously, most of the story takes place at the school; but how much of the Lead’s social and home life will the series cover?
I made a list of main characters – and some secondary characters – figured out who and how to introduce them in the 1st episode and started to write.
I started writing Mid-August and finished a draft about 3 weeks later. 35 pages.
I’m still on the fence, but, for the first draft, I set about 2/3 at the school, and 1/3 on the home life.
Initially, I wanted to write a part for my fiancé, so I had this subplot about his ex-wife getting her own TV comedy show. I showed it to my future wife and she said she loved the school stuff, but hated the B story. She also suggested, moving forward, I actually write for the story, not for my personal desire to include her in it. Good advice.
In the 2nd draft, I changed the B story, focusing on a delinquent younger brother and dead wife. I’m still not certain this is the best choice. Maybe the B story could be lighter, like he’s a womanizer or pothead or just accidentally got his girlfriend pregnant… Still working it out.
Luckily, I’ll have a little help. Tonight, (Sept 27, 2015), I’m having the script workshopped by the NYCSC.
I’ll report how the workshop goes next week.
In the meantime… stay tuned to an internet near you, for the next installment of…. whatever the title of this TV Show ends up being!
P.S. – –
This is the first TV script I ever wrote and shot. Made with a home video camera in 2007.
Though it’s poorly shot, I still like the dialogue and story… an absurdist comedy about a guy who owns a used bookstore in Daytona Beach, FL