Tag: Screenwriter


ROCABERTI RETREATS – JULY 16TH – 21ST, 2021

by on Sep.21, 2020, under events, Featured

Late July 2021

July 16th-21st, 2021
Marouatte Castle,
The Dordogne,
France

Jen Grisanti

Fully booked

Kelly Edwards

Fully booked

Richard “RB” Botto

Fully booked

Tom Dever

Fully booked

Have you dreamed of writing a screenplay and seeing it come to life on the silver screen?

Or maybe you’ve published a book and are wondering about how to turn it into a film script?

Seems impossible, right?

Well, the answer, is, NO! Nothing is impossible, and on this one-of-a-kind writers’ retreat, at the beautiful 16th century Aragonese Castle set on a rock off the coast of the island of Ischia (where The Talented Mr Ripley was shot), we’ll show you just how your words, your vision—let’s face it, your baby—can make it all the way to the big screen!

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Mentors

Jen Grisanti

 

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success.

Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and she quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows, including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends.

In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Drawing on her experience as a studio executive where she gave daily notes to executive producers/showrunners, Grisanti personally guides writers to shape their material, hone their pitches and focus their careers. Since launching the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 800 writers specializing in television, features and novels. Due to her expertise and mentorship, one hundred and twenty-five  of her writers have staffed on television shows and eighty have sold pilots, six that that went to series.

 

Kelly Edwards

 

As the Senior VP of Talent Development for WarnerMedia Entertainment, Kelly Edwards oversees all emerging artist programs for HBO, HBOMax, and Turner.

Edwards brought an innovative new approach to developing the company’s writing and directing fellowships which have become an industry best practice. By marrying the two programs, material created by the writers is shot by the directors with a fully inclusive crew for air on WarnerMedia’s digital platforms. The content has garnered festival awards at SXSW, Tribeca, Seriesfest to name a few.

Prior to HBO, Edwards was a key corporate diversity executive at Comcast/NBCUniversal for over five years where she oversaw over 20 divisions, launched employee resource groups, and introduced diverse creative talent to NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Telemundo.

Edwards’ career has spanned both television and film having produced the movie of the week A CHRISTMAS DETOURfor Hallmark, the one hour series SEX, LOVE, AND SECRETSfor UPN, serving as a network executive for UPN and Fox, and as a creative executive in features. As an executive she helped to develop series such as GIRLFRIENDS, THE PARKERS, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, CLUELESS,and THE WILD THORNBERRYS.

In 2000, Edwards co-founded the non-profit organization Colour Entertainment, a networking group for diverse creative executives and assistants in TV, Film, and Digital, all designed to connect current and future industry executives with one another.

Edwards graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater and holds an MFA in Writing for Film and Television from Emerson College. She currently serves on the Annenberg Inclusion Board and is a 2019 Sundance Episodic Lab fellow.

 

Richard “RB” Botto

 

Richard “RB” Botto is the Founder and CEO of Stage 32, the official film education & networking platform of AFM and the Marche du Film at Cannes Film Festival. Stage32.com is the world’s largest online platform connecting and educating film, TV & digital creatives and executives worldwide. Since 2011, Stage 32 has emerged as an online community of over 500,000 creatives with over 1,000 hours of online education taught by over 500 industry executives.

RB is also a working actor, producer and screenwriter. As a producer, his films have played at dozens of festivals including the Sundance award winning feature, Another Happy Day, written & directed by Sam Levinson (starring Kate Bosworth, Demi Moore, Ellen Barkin), the documentary Crutch, the feature What Lies Ahead (starring Rumer Willis and Emma Dumon) releasing in 2019 and the upcoming Rain- Beau’s End (starring Ed Asner, Sean Young and Kate Arrington). As a writer, his latest screenplay, The End Game, is currently set up at Covert Media. As an actor, his latest film On the Corner of Ego and Desire premiered at the 2018 Raindance Film Festvial.

Botto is a best-selling author with his book Crowdsourcing For Filmmakers, published by Routledge Press under the American Film Market Presents banner. The book can be found at the Routledge Press booth by AFM badge registration and on Amazon, where it has over 50 5-star reviews.

A sought-after speaker and mentor, RB has been a keynote speaker and panelist at such festivals and conferences as Cannes, AFM, Tribeca, Sundance, Raindance, SXSW, Portugal FEST and Winston Baker. He has also taught at institutions such as Harvard and Columbia University on the subjects of filmmaking, producing, film finance, screenwriting, social media, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, entrepreneurship and business.

 

Tom Dever

 

Tom Dever was born and raised in Ohio and has worked in every conceivable facet of the film industry for the past decade; most notably in feature film production at Fox Searchlight Pictures and most regrettably in reality television casting. He is currently the VP of Development for Coverfly, a talent discovery platform and screenplay aggregation software company, where he recently packaged a feature film at Netflix, with Imagine set to produce. His debut feature FOR THE WEEKEND is currently available on streaming platforms worldwide.

 

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The Retreat includes…

SMALL GROUP MENTORING SESSIONS
EXPERT TUITION
ALL MEALS AND DRINKS
FIVE NIGHTS’ LODGING
ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN THE AIRPORT/LOCAL TRAIN STATION AND THE CASTLE
EXCLUSIVE ACCESS
PROGRAM
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ROCABERTI RETREATS – JULY 9th -14th 2021

by on Sep.21, 2020, under events, Featured

Early July 2021

July 9th-14th, 2021
Marouatte Castle,
The Dordogne,
France

Kelly Edwards

Fully booked

Jen Grisanti

Fully booked

Joan Lane

Fully booked

Stan Zimmerman

Fully booked

Have you dreamed of writing a screenplay and seeing it come to life on the silver screen?

Or maybe you’ve published a book and are wondering about how to turn it into a film script?

Seems impossible, right?

Well, the answer, is, NO! Nothing is impossible, and on this one-of-a-kind writers’ retreat, at the beautiful 16th century Aragonese Castle set on a rock off the coast of the island of Ischia (where The Talented Mr Ripley was shot), we’ll show you just how your words, your vision—let’s face it, your baby—can make it all the way to the big screen!

symbol

Mentors

Kelly Edwards

 

As the Senior VP of Talent Development for WarnerMedia Entertainment, Kelly Edwards oversees all emerging artist programs for HBO, HBOMax, and Turner.

Edwards brought an innovative new approach to developing the company’s writing and directing fellowships which have become an industry best practice. By marrying the two programs, material created by the writers is shot by the directors with a fully inclusive crew for air on WarnerMedia’s digital platforms. The content has garnered festival awards at SXSW, Tribeca, Seriesfest to name a few.

Prior to HBO, Edwards was a key corporate diversity executive at Comcast/NBCUniversal for over five years where she oversaw over 20 divisions, launched employee resource groups, and introduced diverse creative talent to NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Telemundo.

Edwards’ career has spanned both television and film having produced the movie of the week A CHRISTMAS DETOURfor Hallmark, the one hour series SEX, LOVE, AND SECRETSfor UPN, serving as a network executive for UPN and Fox, and as a creative executive in features. As an executive she helped to develop series such as GIRLFRIENDS, THE PARKERS, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, CLUELESS,and THE WILD THORNBERRYS.

In 2000, Edwards co-founded the non-profit organization Colour Entertainment, a networking group for diverse creative executives and assistants in TV, Film, and Digital, all designed to connect current and future industry executives with one another.

Edwards graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater and holds an MFA in Writing for Film and Television from Emerson College. She currently serves on the Annenberg Inclusion Board and is a 2019 Sundance Episodic Lab fellow.

 

Jen Grisanti

 

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success.

Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and she quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows, including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends.

In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Drawing on her experience as a studio executive where she gave daily notes to executive producers/showrunners, Grisanti personally guides writers to shape their material, hone their pitches and focus their careers. Since launching the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 800 writers specializing in television, features and novels. Due to her expertise and mentorship, one hundred and twenty-five of her writers have staffed on television shows and eighty have sold pilots, five that that went to series.

 

Joan Lane

 

Joan Lane is a British film and theatre producer, primarily known for having developed the Academy Award-winning THE KING’S SPEECH, directed by Tom Hooper, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, and adapted from the stage play by its author David Seidler.

Her company, Wild Thyme Productions, has toured six innovative productions of Shakespeare’s plays in the UK and Germany and mounted world premiere showcases and readings of new plays and musicals in London. She is a member of Musical Theatre Network UK, concerned with the writing of new musicals, and member of the British Shakespeare Association.

Primarily engaged as a Consultant by the BBC, Joan skills were used for the recording, filming and Royal Opera House performance of ‘The Little Prince’. She was a director for BBC Radio Two and BBC Television’s New Talent UK-wide search for the ‘Voice of Musical Theatre’, involved with background music for the film ‘The Actors’, coordinated the participation of singing Angels for Stephen Fry’s directorial film debut ‘Bright Young Things’ and worked on the BBC’s Promenade Concert/Opera ‘The Water Diviner’s Tale’.

As well as touring with her own company, Joan has worked on several plays at the Royal National Theatre and toured plays with ATG and Pleasance Theatre. She recommends scripts to Russian translator colleagues and two plays were produced in Russia recently.

Her own first original screenplay, completed in 2018 and based on the true story of a 1930s actress and singer, was recently taken up and is expected to go into production in 2020.

Joan is currently working with new writers to develop two films and three new TV series.

In addition, four TV series on which she has worked with first-time writers are under consideration.

 

Stan Zimmerman

 

Stan Zimmerman’s long career covers multiple mediums (TV, film and theatre) and he’s won many LA directing awards, including one from BroadwayWorld.com. In addition, he’s been nominated for two WGA Awards for Best Comedy Episodic writing for his work on the classic TV series, THE GOLDEN GIRLS and ROSEANNE.

Stan’s also written and produced on GILMORE GIRLS and co-created the Lifetime sitcom, RITA ROCKS. He was Director/Writer/EP/Creator on the Emmy-nominated web series, SECS & EXECS, on Tellofilms. In film, he wrote both BRADY BUNCH movies.

He has been busy lately writing, directing and producing theatre in Los Angeles. Some of Stan’s critically-acclaimed productions include: the LatinX The Diary of Anne FrankHeartbreak HelpPledgeWarm CheeseEntertaining Mr. SloaneBLINK & You Might Miss MeSpike HeelsA Tuna Christmas and Gemini. He also directed two of the plays he wrote with Christian McLaughlin: Yes Virginia, Knife to the Heart and Meet & Greet.

Stan has appeared on Broadway with Nureyev & the Joffrey Ballet at the Mark Hellinger Theatre and was the Host/Showrunner on Sean Hayes’ Bravo reality show, SITUATION: COMEDY. Stan also teaches audition technique classes in LA and NYC. He has a BFA-Drama NYU/Circle-in-the-Square.

 

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The Retreat includes…

SMALL GROUP MENTORING SESSIONS
EXPERT TUITION
ALL MEALS AND DRINKS
FIVE NIGHTS’ LODGING
ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN THE AIRPORT/LOCAL TRAIN STATION AND THE CASTLE
EXCLUSIVE ACCESS
PROGRAM
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ROCABERTI WRITERS RETREAT IN ITALY – APRIL 2021

by on Sep.21, 2020, under events, Featured

April 2021

April 13th-20th, 2021
Aragonese Castle,
Ischia,
Italy

Diane Drake

Fully booked

Joan Lane

Fully booked

Kathie Fong Yoneda

Fully booked

Jen Grisanti

Fully booked

Have you dreamed of writing a screenplay and seeing it come to life on the silver screen?

Or maybe you’ve published a book and are wondering about how to turn it into a film script?

Seems impossible, right?

Well, the answer, is, NO! Nothing is impossible, and on this one-of-a-kind writers’ retreat, at the beautiful 16th century Aragonese Castle set on a rock off the coast of the island of Ischia (where The Talented Mr Ripley was shot), we’ll show you just how your words, your vision—let’s face it, your baby—can make it all the way to the big screen!

Mentors

Diane Drake

 

Diane Drake is an accomplished professional screenwriter, writing instructor, story consultant, speaker, and author. Prior to becoming a screenwriter, Diane served as Vice President of Creative Affairs for Academy Award-winning director/producer Sydney Pollack. Her first produced original script, ONLY YOU, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Marisa Tomei, sold for one million dollars, while her second produced script, WHAT WOMEN WANT, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, is the second highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. In addition, both films have recently been remade in China featuring major Chinese stars.

Diane is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has been an instructor/speaker/panelist for the Austin Film Festival, UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, Scriptwriter’s Network, Story Development Group, University Club, and Writer’s Store. She has also served as a judge for the Austin Film Festival, UCLA Extension Contest, and The Humanitas Prize. She recently released her debut book, Get Your Story Straight: A Step-By-Step Guide To Screenwriting By A Million Dollar Screenwriter, (Reel Life Publishing, May 2016).

 

Joan Lane

 

Joan Lane is a British film and theatre producer, primarily known for having developed the Academy Award-winning THE KING’S SPEECH, directed by Tom Hooper, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, and adapted from the stage play by its author David Seidler.

Her company, Wild Thyme Productions, has toured six innovative productions of Shakespeare’s plays in the UK and Germany and mounted world premiere showcases and readings of new plays and musicals in London. She is a member of Musical Theatre Network UK, concerned with the writing of new musicals, and member of the British Shakespeare Association.

Primarily engaged as a Consultant by the BBC, Joan skills were used for the recording, filming and Royal Opera House performance of ‘The Little Prince’. She was a director for BBC Radio Two and BBC Television’s New Talent UK-wide search for the ‘Voice of Musical Theatre’, involved with background music for the film ‘The Actors’, coordinated the participation of singing Angels for Stephen Fry’s directorial film debut ‘Bright Young Things’ and worked on the BBC’s Promenade Concert/Opera ‘The Water Diviner’s Tale’.

As well as touring with her own company, Joan has worked on several plays at the Royal National Theatre and toured plays with ATG and Pleasance Theatre. She recommends scripts to Russian translator colleagues and two plays were produced in Russia recently.

Her own first original screenplay, completed in 2018 and based on the true story of a 1930s actress and singer, was recently taken up and is expected to go into production in 2020.

Joan is currently working with new writers to develop two films and three new TV series.

In addition, four TV series on which she has worked with first-time writers are under consideration.

 

Kathie Fong Yoneda

 

With 35+ years experience, Kathie Fong Yoneda has worked for Paramount, Universal, Fox, and Disney, focusing on analysis and development of live action and animated film, television, novels, adaptations, and web series projects. Her career includes exec posts with Disney, Touchstone, Island Pictures and Disney TV Animation.

Kathie has given workshops in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, and wrote a column on screenwriting which became her book, The Script-Selling Game. Some of her clients include RAI-TV Roma, National Film School of Denmark, Bournemouth University, ScreenTraining Ireland, South Carolina Writers, Singapore Media Academy, Romance Writers of America, ScriptFest, Roma Webfest, Writers Institute, Hawaii International Film Festival, and Melbourne Webfest. She was a guest of The Soviet Peace Committee for a 10-day media symposium in Moscow and was Keynote Speaker for Asian-Pacific Heritage Month at The Smithsonian. Kathie received the Mayor’s medal from the City of Marseille for her work in Cultural Arts and was honored as a Catalyst SuperStar for her work by the BronzeLens Film Festival.

Kathie is a mentor for the Rocaberti Writers Retreat and also team-teaches with author/consultant, Linda Seger, Pamela Wallace (writer-producer, co-writer of Oscar- winning WITNESS), Carole Kirschner (author, CBS TV exec) and Pamela Jaye Smith (author, writer-producer, creator of MYTHWORKS).

Her clientele includes several award-winning writers and her book, The Script Selling Game(2nd edition), is used in screenwriting curricula in universities worldwide. She was Co-Exec-Producer on the series Beyond the Break, Associate Producer on the web series drama The Big O, Executive Producer on the upcoming short film Thirty Minutes and is on the Advisory Board for IMAGO (French Production Company) and LAWEBFEST.

 

Jen Grisanti

 

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success.

Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and she quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was promoted to Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows, including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends.

In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Drawing on her experience as a studio executive where she gave daily notes to executive producers/showrunners, Grisanti personally guides writers to shape their material, hone their pitches and focus their careers. Since launching the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 800 writers specializing in television, features and novels. Due to her expertise and mentorship, one hundred and twenty-five of her writers have staffed on television shows and eighty have sold pilots, five that that went to series.

 

symbol

The Retreat includes…

SMALL GROUP MENTORING SESSIONS
EXPERT TUITION
ALL MEALS AND DRINKS
SEVEN NIGHTS’ LODGING
ROUND-TRIP TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN THE AIRPORT/LOCAL TRAIN STATION AND THE CASTLE
EXCLUSIVE ACCESS
PROGRAM
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STORYWISE TV SEMINAR ON THE EAST COAST

by on Aug.02, 2019, under events, Featured

 

HOW TO WRITE A TV PILOT THAT SELLS w/Jen Grisanti

Hosted by Nicole Couloute

Sunday, September 22, 2019 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

 

Description

Are you an aspiring TV writer, director, actor, or exec? Learn how to break into the industry and better your TV pilot writing skills. NBC executive, Jen Grisanti, will explain how to write a compelling pilot and the process to start a career in the television industry. Nicole Couloute hosts this event.

 

Registration begins promptly at 9 am and ends at 9:50 am. You must present your ID at check-in, so make sure to bring appropriate documentation.

 

Please note that space is limited, so be sure to purchase your ticket sooner rather than later.

 

Send a request to the Nicole Couloute TV Writing Events Facebook group after the purchase of a ticket. This action will allow you to stay up to date on the event and keep in touch with other attendees.

 

The workshop has three sections:

  • Jen will give a seminar – “How To Write A TV Pilot That Sells
  • There will be a pitch panel
  • There will be a networking session to collaborate with other attendees.

 

Plan to stay beyond 2 pm if you can, but it is not required. To pitch, you must have purchased a pitching ticket. Please contact Nicole to get a pitching ticket. Due to the limited time of the pitching session, there will only be a handful of pitches. Pitching ticket includes all benefits of general admission. General admission attendees can listen to other’s pitches and learn for their future pitches.

 

Space is limited, so be sure to get your ticket early.

If you or your company is interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Nicole at ncouloute1@gmail.com.

Address of the event will be given to all ticket holders by the end of July. The event will be within 30 minutes of Bradley Airport.

 

Why Jen?

Writing the TV pilot is one of the most challenging scripts to write and to write well. Jen has helped in the development of thousands of scripts over the past 20 years. She was a Studio Executive at two significant studios for 12 years. She is currently a Writing Instructor at NBC and has been a Story/Career Consultant for ten years.

 

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN WRITING YOUR TV PILOT

  1.    Does my series trigger incident push my central character into a powerful enough dilemma to set up season one?
  2.    Is there a personal component that sets up the personal dilemma of my central character?
  3.    Does my central character actively make a choice in the pilot trigger and dilemma that leads to a pursuit?
  4.    Is my pilot goal clear?
  5.    How do I set up the series?

 

Trigger & Dilemma

With your series trigger and dilemma, you want to think about something that happens to your central character

that knocks their life out of balance. At this point in the story, your central character is often reactive versus active.

The dilemma should make us feel empathy for your character.

Personal Component

With the personal component, you are setting up the personal dilemma of your central character that leads to the

professional pursuit. This sets up the void. The pursuit is one step towards filling this void. With the personal part,

you want to think about the arc of the wound. The best pilots have a childhood wound that the series trigger and

dilemma splits open. The personal component in your story is the emotional part of your story.

Central Character

With the pilot arc, your central character goes from being reactive to active. With the setup of the series arc, they react to what happens to them. Then, they make an active choice that leads to the structure of the pilot arc. In the pilot arc, we should be clear about what your central character wants and why they want it by the end of Act One.

Pilot Goal

If the pilot goal is not clear, the story doesn’t work. In each act, the central character should take action, hit an obstacle, and the stakes should escalate to the pilot goal. If the goal is not clear, you cannot link these points. We should feel what your character wants and what is in the way for every scene.

Series Set-Up

After the resolution of the pilot arc, you need to set up the series. When I see this done well, it bookends what happened in the series trigger and dilemma setup and helps to build the next level of the concept. The point of this is to make your audience so enthralled that they can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

Mastering a story by utilizing the right tools is what will lead you to a sale.

 

You will learn about these techniques in this class.

 

Jen Grisanti’s Bio:

 

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells and her new book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success.

Grisanti started her career in 1992 as an assistant to Aaron Spelling, who served as her mentor for 12 years, and she quickly climbed the ranks and eventually ran Current Programs at Spelling Television Inc., covering all of Spelling’s shows including Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed. In 2004, Grisanti was Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount where she covered numerous shows, including Medium, Numbers, NCIS, 4400 and Girlfriends.

In January 2008, Grisanti launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., a highly successful consulting firm dedicated to helping talented writers break into the industry. Drawing on her experience as a studio executive where she gave daily notes to executive producers/showrunners, Grisanti personally guides writers to shape their material, hone their pitches, and focus their careers. Since launching the consulting firm, Grisanti has worked with over 900 writers specializing in television, features, and novels. Due to her expertise and mentorship, seventy-five of her writers have staffed on television shows, and 60 have sold pilots, five that that went to series. Also, she is an instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge.

Grisanti has taught classes for the “Change Your Story, Change Your Life” Writing/Yoga Retreat with Alta Retreats in Nicaragua, Rocaberti Writing Retreat in Spain, the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, TV Writers Summit (in LA, London and Israel), The TV Writers Studio (in Australia), Story Expo, The Big Island Film Festival, Chicago Screenwriters Network, Scriptwriters Network , Screenwriting Expo, the Great American Pitchfest, the Writers Store, the Northwestern Screenwriter’s Guild in Seattle, and the Alameda’s Writer’s Group. Also, she has served on panels for the WGA, iTVFest, UFVA, PGA, and The Writer’s Bootcamp, telling her story to inspire others.

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CREATING A SERIES CONCEPT THAT WORKS: ATYPICAL

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Featured, Motivation

Creating a Series Concept that Works: Atypical

Jen Grisanti analyzes the new Netflix series, ATYPICAL, exploring how structure can influence emotion and bring your audience to tears.


International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc., a Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former twelve-year studio executive, and author of Story Line, TV Writing Tool Kit, and Change Your Story, Change Your Life. Keep track of Jen’s upcoming events on Facebook and Twitter, @jengrisanti, and listen to her Storywise Podcast. Read Jen’s full bio and sign up for her Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot video series.

Click to tweet this article to your friends and followers!

I am constantly analyzing new series to see what works with story structure. One of my favorite new shows is Atypical on Netflix. I find this show explores in-depth familial dynamics at the same level as Friday Night Lights and This is Us. Understanding how structure can influence emotion and bring your audience to tears is what great storytelling is all about.

Structurally, a story tool that I’ve drawn from watching Atypical is the recognition that all the character arcs stem from the main problem of the main character and that sets up the series. It is when we feel it all linked, that story can reach such tremendous heights of emotion. This is because we feel the concept through all of the characters and the choices that they make. It often comes from the same wound but seeing it play out through different choices and different worldviews.


Script EXTRA: Finding Your Character’s Wound


The main problem in Atypical is that Sam, a young boy that has autism, expresses his to therapist his desire to date. The series/season 1 is about this choice and his family’s reaction to it. The story explores how love is hard enough for a “neuro-typical” person to experience. With Sam, this pursuit becomes a lot more complex but the gift of it all is showing that the desire is real and it is doable.

We watch Sam take actions and hit obstacles in his pursuit to find love from filling out an online profile to learning how to approach girls that might be interested. It really gives us a glimpse of how he sees the world and shows us how things that might be considered simple for us are that much more difficult for people with autism. Seeing Sam take actions towards finding love connects with all of us.

We immediately feel the father’s wound to his son’s autism when he mentions buying his son tickets to a Mets game simply because he wanted to find a way to connect with him. He wanted them to have one thing in common. So, his reaction to Sam’s choice to date is to support this. He reminds his wife that they met around Sam’s age. It is clear that he hopes this experience will bring him and Sam closer together.


Script EXTRA: ‘All is Lost’ Equals Opportunity for Character Growth


With Sam’s mom, Elsa, her reaction is panic because of her worry and the codependent relationship that she shares with her son. She clearly needs him to need her. So, the idea that he wants to find love, in her mind, threatens this. We see that Sam has become her life. This has gotten in the way of the intimacy that she and her husband share. The mother remains resistant despite the therapist sharing with her that autistic people have the same desire to love and be loved. They just don’t know how to approach it in a typical manner.

We see Sam’s problem play out in his sister, Casey’s arc when she punches a student that taunts another student. Casey is the protector. This is her role because of her brother’s condition and the fact that she is his older sister. We feel her angst. The irony is that it is due to her role in Sam’s life and this action she took that her first opportunity at love and romance comes into her life with Evan, who is the brother of the girl she protected.

Sam’s pursuit of love continues. When Sam gets an online response, we see the trials and tribulations that Sam has to go through in preparation for the date. When he hears that she wants to meet at a café, he has to find a way to block out the noise by wearing headphones. Sam hits an obstacle and the date doesn’t work out. Sam tries again when a girl at his work makes eyes toward him. This leads him into a situation where she offers to have sex with him. He hits an obstacle when she touches him in a way that he doesn’t like to be touched. This opportunity takes a turn for the worst.

When the parents go to dinner, we really see the opposing viewpoints to Sam finding love and the rift that it has caused in their relationship. This leads Sam’s father to buy his mother passes to a dance class. After class, she goes to drinks. This is when Elsa meets a bartender that opens her eyes to the fact that her son will never have the choices that he does. This begins an exploration toward finding intimacy.

In Casey’s budding connection with Evan, we see that Sam comes first in her life. This could cause a problem for the possibility of her finding a true connection with Evan.

When Sam learns that 49% of marriages end in divorce, Sam goes with his father to look at a place with penguins. Sam says that penguins mate for life. So, penguins aren’t like people. They’re better.

The structure in Atypical all stems from the main wound. This really works for connecting the audience to this concept and the characters in this world. This is a very strong story tool that all writers can learn to utilize for the concepts that they write.

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5 QUESTIONS FOR WRITING A TV PILOT THAT SELLS

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Featured, Motivation, Personal tips

Jen Grisanti5 Questions for
Writing a TV Pilot that Sells

Guest Post by Jen Grisanti,
Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot

Writing the TV pilot is one of the most challenging scripts to write,
and to write well.
I’ve helped in the development of thousands of scripts over the past 20 years. I was a
Studio Executive at two major studios for 12 years, I am currently a Writing Instructor
at NBC, and I’ve been a Story/Career Consultant for 10 years.

From the 48 pilots sold from the writers I’ve worked with since starting my business 10 years ago,
there are the five questions that I believe every writer should ask themselves when they are writing
their TV pilot:

  1. Does my series trigger push my central character into a powerful enough dilemma to set up season one?
  2. Is there a personal component that sets up the personal dilemma of my central character?
  3. Does my central character actively make a choice in the pilot trigger and dilemma that leads to a pursuit?
  4. Is my pilot goal clear?
  5. How do I setup the series?

Trigger & Dilema

With your series trigger and dilemma, you want to think about something that happens to your central character
that knocks their life out of balance. At this point in the story, your central character is often reactive versus active.
The dilemma should make us feel empathy for your character.

Personal Component

With the personal component, you are setting up the personal dilemma of your central character that leads to the
professional pursuit. This sets up the void. The pursuit is one step towards filling this void. With the personal part,
you want to think about the arc of the wound. The best pilots have a childhood wound that the series trigger and
dilemma splits open. The personal component in your story is the emotional part of your story.

Central Character

With the pilot arc, your central character goes from being reactive to active. With the setup of the series arc, they react to what happens to them. Then, they make an active choice that leads to the setup of the pilot arc. In the pilot arc, we should be clear about what your central character wants and why they want it by the end of Act One.

Pilot Goal

If the pilot goal is not clear, the story doesn’t work. In each act, the central character should take an action, hit an obstacle, and the stakes should be raised to the pilot goal. If the goal is not clear, you cannot link these points. We should feel what your character wants and what is in the way for every scene.

Series Set Up

After the resolution of the pilot arc, you need to set up the series. When I see this done well, it bookends
what happened in the series trigger and dilemma setup and helps to build the next level of the concept. The
point of this is to make your audience so enthralled that they can’t wait to see what happens next.

Mastering a story by utilizing the right tools is what will lead you to a sale.

* * *

International speaker Jen Grisanti is an acclaimed Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.,
writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC, a former 12-year studio executive, including VP of Current
Programming at CBS/Paramount, blogger for The Huffington Post, and author of the books,
Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells, and
Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path To Your Success. Her new video series is
Telling and Selling Your TV Pilot. Learn more.

Read my Q&As with Jen on Story Line and Change Your Story, Change Your Life.

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