Writing for TV – Take It Like A Man

22 minutes of comedy bronze

22 minutes of comedy bronze

(To go straight to the script page, click here)

Earlier this year, I entered an American competition to write a TV pilot. To my great surprise, I reached the semi-finals, where I was asked to deliver a single pilot episode of 22 minutes duration (a 30 minute slot including adverts).

I didn’t get into the finals, but I had a great, exasperating, depressing, liberating time writing the script. Since it’s doing no good at all sitting on my computer, I’ve posted it here (along with the character outlines) and I’d appreciate any comments you have.

Its format is loosely based on the classic modern American series – Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory etc – and hopefully the characters come to life, and all speak with individual voices. It would be fascinating to me to hear if you see any particular actors in any of those roles. I’d tell you who I have in mind, but I don’t want to plant ideas…

One of the fascinating parts of the proposal process was that you had to demonstrate how this concept could run to 100 episodes – definitely a different mindset from the British ‘6 episodes a series, 4 series if you’re lucky’ way of thinking. Apparently their budgeting is weighted so that the series don’t even break even until the second or third season…

My proposal said

‘The growth of the characters will allow for multiple side stories that can be explored. There are many different types of relationships for Brad, Lara and Maria to get into, as well as Brad’s career, Jeff’s career, and Tony’s trials at work.

All of the characters, with the exception of Lily, are at stepping off points in their lives, where they will make mistakes, make discoveries and rush headlong down blind alleys.

Brad and Lara have their lives ahead of them, where they will make huge decisions about their futures, and Maria will now have to face becoming the woman she wanted to be, without the excuse of having a child holding her back.’

Bullshit? I don’t think so. See what you think.

It was strange trying to write in an American voice (‘mom’, ‘pants’ etc) but I kept UK spelling. I didn’t really believe that I’d reach the semi-finals, let alone win, so I’m content with the outcome.

Next? I’m writing a screenplay for a thriller involving a murderer of transvestites and an Indian plant biologist (OK, that’s a little niche) and then one woman play for Karen Kirkup. And maybe holding down a job, too.


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