Package, Pilot and Pitch: Writing TV Drama

New dates TBC

Package, Pilot and Pitch: Writing TV Drama

Date: (awaiting dates)

Format: 6-session Saturday course, spread over approx. 2-3 months
Times: 10.30am - 4.30pm
Capacity: Max. 8 participants
Fee: £750

Many of our best screenwriters learned their craft in serial drama. It is a world which is highly competitive, and it can also be highly rewarding – which is why plenty of the best stay working there. It’s also one of the reasons why it’s a difficult world to break into. This course with writer/producer Neil Arksey aims to boost your chances.

The course is aimed at experienced writers in theatre, prose, radio, comedy, advertising, or related fields, who wish to discover how TV serial drama works.

On six Saturdays, over three months in Covent Garden, eight participants will gain a thorough understanding of how continuing and serial dramas operate. The group will be taken though a step by step introduction to the various techniques and methods employed to put together these dramas.

The course will be delivered from the point of view of a writer, with an emphasis on three main areas:

  • How to pitch and develop your own original idea for a drama.
  • Storylining and script editing - the in-house positions for writers on continuing and serial dramas which few people outside understand or are aware exist.
  • What is required of screenwriters who are contracted to write for continuing and serial dramas.

Participants will leave the course much better equipped to understand and work in the script and story offices of a continuing/serial drama. In addition to group projects, each writer will fully develop their own serial drama package, complete with pilot episode, all ready to pitch.

"The short courses currently being offered by The London Film School are hot property...They fill a really important training gap, targeting already skilled filmmakers moving on and up." John Whiston, Creative Director, Serial Dramas, ITV Studios. Read full testimonial.

Course Outline

Themes for the classes include:

  • Serial versus Series, Continuing versus Returning
  • Team Story Development
  • Original Drama Ideas
  • Character, Setting and Story
  • Plot and Structure
  • Pitching
  • Beats and Storylines
  • Scene by Scenes
  • Script Editing, Revising and Redrafting
  • Script Reports
  • Industry insights

The course will examine the development of a continuing serial drama in depth and trace each step of how productions are managed in-house, from initial idea to full concept, storylines, block outlines, futures and scripts. In parallel with this, each participant will also be given the opportunity to develop an original serial drama idea of their own.

Applicants will be expected to have had some (not necessarily professional) writing experience. They will be required to complete substantial homework assignments to achieve full benefit. Email access and sharing email contact are essential.

The course has been designed with lengthy breaks between the final three sessions to maximise writing time and allow participants to complete the scripts of their original drama projects.

By the final week, each writer will have developed their own serial drama idea all the way to a pilot script and received one-to-one feedback on their project from Neil.

Course Schedule

All sessions take place from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

SESSION 1

  • Introductions. Course timetable and outline.
  • Different kinds of drama. Serial, series, continuing. Production context etc.
  • Each participant will be developing their individual original serial drama to pilot.
  • Brainstorming ideas for the Group Project.
  • The Outline Package – what it’s comprised of.
  • Group Project: Pitch Group Project ideas. Choose. Discuss setting; core characters etc.

Homework: core character outlines.

SESSION 2

  • Individual Project: First pitch of serial drama idea.
  • Group Project: characters, setting – brainstorming ideas for stories.
  • Storylining – strands and beats.
  • Pitch, choose and allot pilot stories for Group Project.

Homework: Individual Project: revise idea if necessary and complete outline package for next week. Group Project: create the beats for pilot story strand.

SESSION 3

  • Individual Project: Pitching loglines, synopses and other elements of revised outline package.
  • Group Project: sharing/discussing story beats for designated story strands.
  • Turning the story strands into an episode scene-by-scene.
  • Individual Project: clarifying the story strands and creating the beats for them

Homework: Group Project complete scene-by-scene. Individual Project: beats ready for a first draft scene-by-scene next week.

SESSION 4

  • Individual Project: pilot episode scene-by-scenes.
  • Discussion of the in-house team and working methods of a continuing drama production office; and also the relationship of this to freelance writers.
  • Turning the scene-by-scene into a script – scene descriptions and dialogue.
  • Script editing and revising drafts.

Homework: writing first draft of Individual Project pilot script.

BREAK 1

SESSION 5

  • Individual Project: Table Reads.

Homework: revise and complete pilot script & full outline package, to deliver by email before individual session.

BREAK 2

SESSION 6

Individual Project: Series of one-to-one, meetings. Each writer will receive a verbal script report on their First Draft and Outline Package, and notes for further development.

Tutor profile: Neil Arksey, Screenwriter and Series Story Producer

@NeilArksey

Neil Arksey's workshops at LFS

Further information:

Social links

As screenwriter, story editor and consultant, head writer and series producer Neil Arksey has been responsible for over a thousand episodes of serial drama at home and abroad. In the UK, he has worked on shows such as CROSSROADS, FAMILY AFFAIRS, DOCTORS, MILE HIGH, and RIVER CITY. And abroad, amongst other projects, he was head writer on Salatut Elämät, a 5-day-a-week soap in Finland, and series story producer on Jóban Rosszban, a continuing hospital drama set and based in Budapest.

In addition to working as a writer and producer, Neil has taught writing at several universities, colleges and film schools. He is the author of a number of popular books for children, teenagers and young adults, published by Penguin and Random House, including Playing on the Edge, Brooksie and Flint.