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Old 10-26-2016, 06:22 PM   #1
dcribbs
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Default Advice needed on TV pilot

I am writing a pilot with a buddy. Here's the issue: It has some scenes with action sequences in them. As it stands, the script is only going to top out at 44-45 pages because he wants to scrap our original ending. He feels it should start off episode 2. My opinion is there won't be an episode 2 if there isn't an episode 1. The original ending gives closure to the episode. It would bring the pilot up to 53+ pages. but it is definitely not padding. I actually like the ending, as does my buddy. He wants to start off episode 2 with a bang.

I don't want the script tossed into the "No!" pile due to a perception it's too short. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 10-26-2016, 07:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Advice needed on TV pilot

Your instinct is correct-- 45 pages is way too short.

Most hourlong pilots these days are 60+ pages, so I would say 54 pages or so is a reasonable minimum length to shoot for.

Last spring, the only drama pilot shorter than 54 pages that was picked up to series by a broadcast network was Lee Daniels' STAR (and after the success of EMPIRE, Fox was basically going to pick up anything he sent them).
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Old 10-26-2016, 08:57 PM   #3
dcribbs
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Default Re: Advice needed on TV pilot

Thank you for the reply. I will let my buddy know. FYI I mentioned I wanted to ask other writers for their opinion and he agreed we should solicit unbiased feedback. Thanks again.
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Old 11-01-2016, 12:09 AM   #4
ducky1288
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Default Re: Advice needed on TV pilot

There's a 99.5% chance no one will ever see episode 2.

For TV (as a sample or to sell), put all your eggs in one basket and if someone buys it and develops it, then you can rewrite to fit their needs. But until then you only have one impression.
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Old 11-01-2016, 04:54 PM   #5
14001
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Default Re: Advice needed on TV pilot

Not getting into length, you have to find a balance between closure (the episode must be enjoyable by itself and, as some colleagues mention above, chances of seeing episode 2 are slim) but this is not a film or a short film, it's a series, so you need to keep your audience wanting more.

However this depends wildly on what kind of series you are making. If it's a procedural, you need to close the story of that episode. What you leave open is all the secondary stories around the characters. On the other hand, if it's a full story (like Stranger Things) you need to open both: characters and plot.
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Old 11-02-2016, 12:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Advice needed on TV pilot

Quote:
Originally Posted by ducky1288 View Post
There's a 99.5% chance no one will ever see episode 2.

For TV (as a sample or to sell), put all your eggs in one basket and if someone buys it and develops it, then you can rewrite to fit their needs. But until then you only have one impression.
For an example, the original draft of HALT AND CATCH FIRE had them finishing the build of the computer in the pilot, rather than throughout the first season. AMC bought the pilot - which was written as a sample for staffing purposes - then had the writers rework it so that the action of the pilot stretched out over several episodes instead.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: Advice needed on TV pilot

If you are producing the show, you'll need more than 2 episodes to sell a season. So if you're buddy is worried about losing his 2nd episode start because he can't write more good stuff, you're screwed.

If you are shopping the pilot, load it with every good thing you have, regardless of whether it is procedural or serial. The buyer won't have you involved as writers anyway, the next episodes will be their problem, not yours.
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