July 29, 2009 Jill

The Fourth Independent Television Festival takes play in LA July 31 to August 6.  It is billed as the only festival for independently produced pilots in LA:

ITVFest prides itself on being for and about the pilotmakers.

I was lucky enough to get a pre-screening of one of the entries, an energetic comedy with a great little premise.  Sex Ed: The Series is written and produced by Ernie Veccione, who has been documenting his work on the series in his blog Not Another Screenwriting Blog.

The trailer for Sex Ed is great as is the  very simple, yet effective web site.  I love that you can download the script!

Sex Ed is billed as “a cross between The Breakfast Club and Sex and the City.”  It’s a one hour with a light comedic tone set on a university campus.  A crazy-ish prof (Joanna Cassidy) throws away the text book and teaches sexuality in an unorthodox and intimate way taking us into the sex lives of her students.

With each lesson the students are forced into intimate situations to discover things about themselves that they’d rather not admit publicly.

As soon as I heard the premise of the series, I felt it was a series I’d watch.  The trailer confirmed that.

But it’s a hard premise to execute because the danger is in going at sex too literally and not developing strong episodic stories.

I think of sex like violence and comedy  – almost a tool a writer can bring into a script to elicit an emotional response in the audience. Sex heightens the stakes in any scene.  Because the audience is a little on edge, a little more invested, a little — shall we say — tingly, it means the scene is already that much more intense.  When you’ve got your audience a little off balance with the sexual content, it can also be easier to get a laugh.

But there’s a danger in making the show about sex.  The sex act can bring the momentum of the story to a screeching halt.  The writer has to be careful to use the sex to reveal character and move a story forward.

As long as Sex Ed remembers to develop strong episodic stories and continues to reveal and develop its characters, it could make a really strong series.  Because let’s face it, who doesn’t like sex.

I’ll be following Ernie’s blog over the next few days to find out how the series fares at ITVFest.