PRECOLLEGE TV WRITING SUMMER INSTITUTE
Instructor: Joey Siara (Writer, ABC’s Emergence) Program Dates: Session A: June 22 – July 10 | Session B: July 13 – July 31 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays remotely via Zoom from 10am - 1pm Plus two Saturday Weekend Workshops
The Pre-College TV Writing Summer Institute introduces motivated high school students to writing for television in Hollywood. This three-week track mirrors the professional TV Writing Summer Institute – Introduction to TV Writing section, in that it introduces students to the practice of professional TV writers by teaching students how to develop original series concepts and how to navigate the contemporary marketplace. In the process, students learn how to identify and capture the tone, characters, dialogue, and themes that make their story unique.
All participants will receive UCLA credit for the following course:
188A. Special Courses in Film, Television, and Digital Media (4 Units)
Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Special topics in film, television, and digital media for undergraduate students taught on experimental or temporary basis. May be repeated for credit. P/NP or letter grading.
- The principles behind network needs and how pilots are chosen across broadcast, cable, and digital platforms
- Choose a TV series with a story that can continue on for many seasons
- Develop and deepen characters
- Service your voice, tone, and style
- Service the franchise of their original series
- Fit into the network’s “wheelhouse” and meet their expectations
- Create and revise a beat sheet for the pilot episode
- Create and revise a treatment (2-3 pages) of the series
- Write and revise the teaser/opening (3-5 pages) of the pilot episode
- Complete an outline for the pilot episode
- Give and receive constructive feedback on their work and the work of their peers
*Please note that this is an intensive course. As such, all students are expected to spend a minimum of 25 hours-per-week writing outside of official class meetings
JILL GOLDSMITH is a writer and producer for television, with credits on many Emmy-winning series, including NYPD Blue, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Law & Order, Boston Legal, and also Rizzoli & Isles. Currently in development with a project at Universal, she was previously the Showrunner and Executive Producer for a one-hour drama in development at BET. Jill was also a Finalist for the Humanitas Prize for an episode of Boston Legal, and has sold pilots to ABC, NBC, and Universal. She has been a featured speaker at many conferences and writing programs and has appeared on C-Span Close Up, CBS News, and CNN.
Jill received an MFA in Screenwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where she has also been a professor. She is a contributing author to the book, Lawyers In Your Living Room! Law On Television, published in 2009, in which she wrote the chapter entitled, Writing For Television: From Courtroom to Writers’ Room.
Prior to writing for television, Jill spent seven years as a Public Defender in the Juvenile and Felony Trial Divisions of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office in Chicago, Illinois, and also served an internship with U.S. Senator Paul Simon on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Assessment and Final Project
Students will be assessed on attendance, participation, several assignments and their final portfolio:
- Series Pitches (Pitching Three Ideas in First Class)
- A/B Pilot Stories
- Pilot Beat Sheet
- Teaser/Opening Pages
- Pilot Outline
- Series Treatment
- Revised Teaser/Opening Pages
Monday – Lecture: Intro to Course. The difference between writing screenplays and episodic TV; episodic pilot vs. “premise pilot” vs. hybrid. Loglines. Students pitch their 3 prepared ideas, get feedback.
Assignment: Choose your idea to develop. Incorporate feedback into writing a logline for the show, focusing on character, dilemma, and tone.
Wednesday – Lecture: Intro to one-hour drama, half-hour dramedy and comedy structure; A, B, and C story-lines; premise, theme, conflict, characters. Share loglines and workshop them.
Assignment: Generate two-three A/B story-lines for your pilot episode.
Friday – Lecture: Pitch two possible A and B stories for your pilot and receive feedback. Discussion about writing Beat Sheets.
Assignment: Write a Beat Sheet for first half (Teaser – Act Two) of your pilot episode.
Monday – Lecture: Unifying theme, character arcs, network “story area documents,” and compelling act breaks. Discussion on establishing the world of your show, tone, and voice. Share first half Beat Sheets and get feedback.
Assignment: Write a Beat Sheet for second half (Act Three-Five) of your pilot episode.
Wednesday – Lecture: Discussion about writing an Outline based on Beat Sheets. Writing an effective Teaser. Go over second half of Beat Sheets and get feedback.
Assignment: Write the Teaser of your pilot episode. Begin turning Beat Sheet into the Outline.
Friday – Lecture: Character execution. Scene structure. Writing compelling dialogue. Read out Teasers and get feedback.
Assignment: Continue turning Beat Sheet into the Pilot Outline. Write the Series Treatment Document.
Monday – Lecture: Drafting the Series Bible with character arcs for each principal character, as well as central questions/mysteries, series mythology, and end game. Answer Questions / Workshop Issues with Pilot Outline.
Assignment: Continue Writing Pilot Outline (Due Wednesday). Practice Pitch.
Wednesday – Lecture: The studio and network notes process. Rewriting strategies, editing, and polishing. Solving story issues. Discussion about what happens in the real world with the draft to be “published” and distributed to the director, actors, assistant directors, and all department heads for pre-production. Discussion of the pre-production, production, and post-production processes: the production board and call sheet. Breaking into the industry.
DUE TODAY: Pilot Outline, Series Treatment.
Assignment: Prepare for Pitch Panel. Rewrite Teaser.
Friday – Individual Notes Meetings with Students / Group Debrief of Pitches with Breaking into the Industry Discussion. Reading out loud of Rewritten Teasers.
Assignment: Continue writing into your future!
Weekend Professional Panels
First Saturday: Writer as Entrepreneur
This weekend workshop would address professional development by bringing in working screenwriters/TV writers to talk about their career paths and the experiences of being a writer
in Hollywood. It would be broken up into sections:
The Screenwriting Career Path – to talk about the varied ways writers get started in Hollywood.
Inside the TV Writers’ Room – to talk about the experience, etiquette, and career of TV Writers
Second Saturday: How to Pitch
To learn the ins and outs of pitching a TV show and to practice for the final pitch panels.
Final Pitch Panel
As a culmination of the TV Writing program, students have the opportunity to pitch their own TV show idea to a panel of accomplished industry professionals. The panel allows students to practice their pitching skills, building off of what they learned in the How to Pitch Weekend Workshop. At the end of the pitch, the panelists give feedback to each student, drawing on their extensive insight and experience in pitching and development.
The panel will be lead by Michael Narducci, a writer and a producer. He most recently developed WARRIORS through ABC Studios. Prior to that, he was the showrunner of THE ORIGINALS for Warner Brothers TV. He also wrote on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, MEDIUM, THE 4400, THE CROSSING, and WATERFRONT.
Michael was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. He attended Harvard University where he lettered in football and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in psychology. He went on to receive his MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Virginia. His short stories have appeared in The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Pembroke, and Gadfly magazine. He taught creative writing at The Idyllwild Arts Academy for seven years and has also taught writing in Boston, Charlottesville, South Central Los Angeles, and South Korea.
To apply for the Precollege TV Writing Summer Institute, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Open to students enrolled in grades 9th - 12th in Spring 2020 and Spring 2020 High School Graduates
Students who do not meet the minimum program requirements should not apply and should consider other summer opportunities.
How to Apply
To participate in the Precollege TV Writing Summer Institute, students must apply and receive acceptance into the program.
As part of the application process, you will be asked to complete the following:
- Responses to the following essay prompts:
- Three log lines for three original story ideas.
- Personal Statement: Why would you like to participate in the program, and what do you expect to gain from the experience? 150-200 words.
- What prior experience, if any, do you have in screenwriting? Include both academic coursework and extracurricular activities. Previous experience in screenwriting is not a requirement. 150-200 words.
- Submit a creative writing piece written in English that features a character from a TV show that you admire. 150-200 words.
- In a writing workshop, you are expected to give and receive feedback on your work and the work of your peers. What qualities do you possess that would make you a good collaborator in a writing workshop? 150-200 words.
- Optional: An unofficial transcript or progress report confirming a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Fees and Payment
Please find below a list of all fees that may apply to you to enroll in the TV Writing Summer Institute.
2020 Summer Institute Fees
- Registration Fee: $150.00*
*This registration fee is assessed one-time per each summer term for any precollege Summer Institute. If you are admitted and will be enrolled at UCLA in Fall 2020, other University fees of $130.70 will be assessed in lieu of the registration fee.
- Program Fee: $2,395*
* If you are admitted and will be enrolled at a UC campus in Fall 2020, your program fee will be $2,071.
- IEI Fee: $61.00
- Document Fee*: $50.00
*If you are participating in UCLA Summer Sessions for the first time or an incoming UCLA undergraduate student, this document fee will be assessed. The one-time document fee covers life-time academic and verification transcripts that do not require special delivery services.
SUBTOTAL WITH DOCUMENT FEE:
Please note that a $150.00 nonrefundable deposit will be required in order to reserve your space in the program. This deposit is not an additional fee and will apply toward your summer balance.
Full summer fees are due no later than 5PM, June 5*. Failure to pay by the payment deadline may result in your space in the program being forfeited.
NOTE: Your bill reflects your enrollment activities. If you make any changes to your enrollments, be sure to monitor your BruinBill to verify any changes in your balance.
Your enrollment in the program is not officially confirmed until you submit full payment of the program fees and all other administrative fees.
*If you register AFTER June 5, you will be prompted to make full payment of all fees excluding any applicable document fee and IEI fees at the time of online registration. For the document and IEI fee payment, you can follow the same steps listed in PAYMENT METHODS above 1-2 business days after making payment of the full program fees.
Credit Card of Electronic Check (E-Check)
Accepted forms of payment are VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, or e-check.
- Log onto MyUCLA (UCLA Logon ID required)
- At the MAIN MENU under the FINANCES AND JOBS drop-down menu, click on the BRUINBILL link
- Once on the BruinBill page, select MAKE A PAYMENT at the top
All credit card payments are subject to a 2.75% non-refundable service charge each transaction. This charge is assessed by Higher One, Inc. and may not be refunded under any circumstances. No service fees are applied to e-check payments.
Cash, Check, or Money Order
Note: Certain charges may apply to returned checks and credit card charge backs.
Foreign Currency Payment
Travelex payments allow you to lock into an exchange rate with your bank. If your currency is not included in the drop down list, you may request that your bank make the transfer in US dollars.
- Log onto MyUCLA (UCLA Logon ID required)
- At the MAIN MENU under the FINANCES AND JOBS drop-down menu, click on the BRUINBILL link
- Once on the BruinBill page, select MAKE A PAYMENT at the top and select PAY WITH FOREIGN CURRENCY
Refund and Cancellation Policy
A valid payment of a non-refundable deposit is required to complete registration. This deposit is not refundable under any circumstances.
Program fees and other applicable fees, excluding the non-refundable deposit, are refundable if the program is officially dropped prior to 5PM, JUNE 15 (PDT). In the event of withdrawal prior to the refund deadline, the total refund amount will reflect the non-refundable deposit, appearing as Processing Fee on the BruinBill account.
If the program is dropped after 5PM, June 15 (PDT), all fees are non-refundable and you will be financially liable regardless of attendance. To officially cancel your enrollment, you must access your existing registration online.
If entitled to a refund from the UCLA Summer Sessions Office, you will receive your refund one of three ways within 1-3 weeks:
- BruinDirect: BruinDirect is a free and automatic way for students to receive refunds directly to a U.S. checking or savings account. You may sign-up on BruinBill.
- Credit Card: Payments made with a credit card will be returned back to the credit card that made the original payment.
- Check Refund: If payment made using a method other than credit card and if not signed-up for BruinDirect, refund will be issued as a paper check and mailed to the mailing address on file.
For a full overview of all terms and conditions for UCLA Summer Institutes, please review the Participant Agreement.
Participants of the Precollege TV Writing Summer Institute will be awarded 4 units of credit in the form of a letter grade after the successful completion of the program.
As a participant, you are expected to complete all assigned coursework, take all examinations, attend class regularly, and submit all required work by the end of the program. No part of the coursework may be continued beyond the close of the program unless prearranged by the student and the instructor.
The program instructor is required to assign a final grade for each student enrolled in a course. Grades A, B, C, and D may be modified by a plus or minus suffix.
For more information on grades, visit the Registrar's website.
Units / Credits
UCLA is on the quarter system. While some schools are also on the quarter system, most colleges and universities are on the semester system. As a general guide to transferring quarter units to a semester system school, one semester unit or credit is worth 1.5 quarter units (e.g., 4 quarter units = 2.5 semester units).
UCLA courses are generally accepted for transfer credit, but all decisions on transferability rest with the home institution. Students should get advance approval of their UCLA Summer Sessions course selections from the home institution prior to registration.
The transcript is a permanent record that reflects all undergraduate and graduate work completed at UCLA. It lists courses, units, grades, cumulative grade-point average, transfer credits, total units, and work in progress in chronological order.
Requests are not processed if students have outstanding financial, academic, or administrative obligations to the University.
NOTE: Current or newly admitted UCLA students will have their grades appear on their UCLA transcript immediately after grades are submitted by the course instructor. Current or newly admitted visiting UC students will have their grades appear on their home UC campus's transcript in October or November.