September 3, 2007 Jill

I’ve been a little light on the postings lately, for a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons is that there weren’t that many new pilots on television in August and I’ve been in the mood for fresh pilots as opposed to archival. Plus looking ahead to September and October, I’m going to have my work cut out for me.

And then there’s the end of summer thing — rushing out to enjoy the last dregs before it’s gone. Plus school’s starting any minute and there are new shoes to buy, after school activities to sign up for and the whole sending lunch every day thing to dread.

But none of those are the real reason I slowed down.

I’ve been posting less, because I’ve been writing like a fiend. I had a big burst of energy on the pilot I’ve been developing. And when I finished my draft a week or so ago, I wanted a break from all things pilot.

I’m pretty pleased with my script. I’ve been working this concept for a long time. And this is actually the third pilot I’ve written. But this one slipped out the most easily and has by far the most energy and fun of the three.

Just before this draft, I did some major surgery on the premise and then I cranked up the character to eleven.

My original premise had CSI elements, a single character lead surrounded by a team of regulars and two mysteries in every episode. It’s still got the two mysteries and some science, but I’ve gone from single lead to more of a buddy picture. I’ve lightened it up considerably, de-emphasized the mystery and added action and lots of humour.

While I’m happy with the draft, I’m by no means done. I particularly want to work on strengthening the first act and by that I mean making it more hooky. So you may note in these pages a new attention to first acts.

Here are a few stats from my script:

It’s four acts and tag (I envision the series title before the first act) in 60 pages. The first act is 12 pages long, the second 15, the third 13, the fourth 16 and the tag is 4 pages. The first and second act curtains drop on B-story which is one of the two mystery of the week plots. The third, fourth and episode curtains turn on the A-story.

But here’s my big dirty secret: it’s a premise pilot. The two lead characters meet for the first time and we see the team form.

I know I know I know. I’m the one who says do not ever write a premise pilot for the Canadian market.

And you know why: you don’t want to be forced to air any particular episode first. You want to take best advantage of your launch publicity by showing first time viewers the best episode you’ve got in the can. And a premise pilot limits you to showing only that episode first.

But I’m not there yet. I’m still selling the series. Using only a script.

And I think this premise pilot is my best hope for selling the franchise which brings together two unlikely people. And you kind of need to know how they got brought together before you settle down to enjoy their interaction.

So there it is. I have preached against the premise pilot for years now and I’ve gone and written one. It just goes to show, you should never listen to me.