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Back to Filmmaking with a Series PITCH, PROPOSAL & BIBLE TEMPLATE

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Welcome to TAT News, I’m Angela Terga

Blogpost category: The Metamorphosis of An Idea



The GOOD NEWS is that I’ve been hired to create an adaptation from a Film Screenplay to a 1-hour TV Series for a client. But I can’t share any more details. Subscribe to this blog to find out how that goes and if I get any of TAT Productions projects placed. Through this affiliate blog, TAT Productions recommends books based on research, hoping to enrich your life with new age knowledge and insight. Subscribe here to our blog. Dreams do Come True! This call to work for hire came right after showing “Hybrid” at Savor Cinema during Ft. Lauderdale’s Arts & Design Week. It’s like the stars lined up! With renewed impetus, I refurbished my Utopia Series Pitch and now changed the title to Utopia 101 for the Series title and Taharai the Hybrid, for the Pilot Episode.

While doing research for Utopia 101, I revisited several industry books from the MFA program I partook in back in 2014 at Full Sail. These books’ authors are screenwriting experts with industry experience who each have their own way of presenting the process of creating a Treatment, Bible, Pitch Packet, Proposal, and Pilot. You must develop your own from their advice and using your own experience and talent. Here’s the list: · Writing Treatments that Sell by Kenneth Atchity and Chi-li Wong.



A book about creating shows for television.
Crafty TV Writing



Adding a more recent find to the list with Orlando-L.A.- based entertainment experts Phil Zizza and Wade T. Peña and their book Save the Writing.

After several days locating the specific topics within these books and processing the material, I took notes and added my own take. Having carried out several screenplay adaptations, thus far, makes me feel like a little connoisseur and gives me encouragement. So, I irked myself into eking out my own template, and I’m sharing it here to guide those confused with the terminology's ambiguity who’d want to know what all is in a Series Show Bible. For example, the terms pitch, treatment, synopsis, are used so loosely by the big wiggers and us wingers, that every deal can be different, even just written on a napkin, (that’d be real power).


Indies must be more consistent with the norms used by professionals in industry circles or at least know about these norms for pitching purposes and to be able to bring other creators along. It's not just industry jargon. It is academic and universal knowledge about storytelling effectivity.

Back To Filmmaking thanks to Broward County's Film Commission Initiative


At the First Annual FTLADW Filmmakers Showcase
T. A. Terga, author

The FTLADW 1st Annual Filmmakers Showcase where I watched my movie on a big screen again after almost ten years, motivated and inspired me to refurbish and bring to light the film Hybrid, which stands as the unfinished Pilot of the Series Utopia 101, Ep. 1- The Hybrid once premiered but never released as Spyderwoman, a spinoof of the student short Spiderwoman, based on the short story SpiderWoman, an Amazon Legend. The universe rewarded me, including meeting the ultimate cinematographer, the one and only Laszlo, the acclaimed creative Cameraman and Director of independent Film and broadcast commercials. I'm keeping an eye out for his next premiere in the South Florida Filmscape. By the way, Broward County is one of the most film friendly counties in the State. We shot the Hybrid’s Amazon Scene sequence in one of their public parks early in the morning for FREE! I caught up with old friends at the Showcase and the spirit of “Yes, I can” caught up with me! at Cinema Savor in Ft. Lauderdale. Thank you FTLADW2023!! Hope I can bring back the Hybrid as the finished Pilot of Utopia 101, the Series- about how society can be a peaceful world without sin.

Without further ado...

When starting out mapping a 1-Hour TV series... A series is a world that a creator builds with all the backstory and setting details of a novel, in episodes instead of chapters. Whether you have drafted the story yet or not, you can situate the idea within one or more genres and develop several loglines to choose from. These should be part of the introduction of every document you create for your series. Choose the most straightforward language you can. Avoid passive voice. This template contains three different sections that can be presented individually at any time during the developing stages and the dealmaking; so each stands alone and needs a heading and tittle as well as the projects: Title, Author, Logline, and Genre. It identifies the material at once. Keep it consistent.

Identify Genre, Keywords, and Audience The keywords used in genre categories for similar series are used to attract specific audiences which will help your series be listed under these series, expanding the project's marketing potential with crossovers. There are several genres Utopia 101 fits into. It’s a mouthful to tell them all. Utopia 101 is a 1-Hour Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic, Magic Realism, Feminist, Survival TV Series. Explaining that it is also a ‘tale within a tale’ or two stories in one played out across three seasons non-linearly, further describes the show and places it within a niche audience. Study the beats of Sci-fi nonlinear post-apocalyptic survival shows with female protagonist or supporting actor that are streaming now and the all-time most popular, and you will arrive at your audience.

Every genre has 3 key elements that identify it.

  1. a hero willing to explore the unknown

  2. the creation of an authentic, unique world in which something is unknown, first of a kind, or rare.

  3. a relationship with scientific theory and universal laws that make events plausible instead of fantasy.

Compare the Series with Same Genre Shows Past and Present Make a list of the shows titles and briefly describe how they are similar and different. Hanna, Station Eleven, Carnival Row, The 100, The Last of Us. The Snowpiercer.

Why is Utopia 101 a feminist series? Both protagonists of Utopia 101 are women in non-traditional roles. 1. Sabia, is the last standing survivor and a skilled telepath who conduct the neo-Shambhalans’ astral travels. 2. Taharai is the first of her kind—a venomous Amazon hybrid surviving in the asphalt jungle. How is magic realism grounded and not fantasy? 1. Survival on Earth after a Nuclear Holocaust is technically possible and a plausible event. 2. Taharai, is a spontaneous hybrid, a parahuman— also scientifically plausible. After showing the basic elements of the series, title, author, and genre comes the Series Logline followed by the Series Synopsis. The second part of the pitch is the description of the Series including mood, tone, settings, SFX, and comparable financials. Devising this straightforward Template that anyone can follow, makes it simpler to create an all-inclusive Pitch Packet with Pitch, Proposal, and Bible. It’s like getting a Fill in the Blanks ditto at school, only you can’t copy from a friend. This tool keeps me organized and focused on each element until all requirements are filled in. After completing the template, you may further edit your document without the labels and present an even more polished packet. In any case, the pitch, proposal, and bible are working documents that continue changing until they’re recorded. These past few years, I’ve been writing screenplay adaptations and SEO articles. Writing adaptations from screenplay to book and book to screenplay has kept me in two waters honing writing skills for each type. However, it all begins with being able to tell a short story. A working TEMPLATE for the Series Pitch, Proposal & Bible

INTRODUCTION: Anyone can have a relevant story idea; some even a great one! But turning your idea into a TV show series can take years! Reach out to a ghostwriter for help, look for industry experts in books and IMDB, network, read, watch, write, and try. So…. I VENTURE TO SAY that the two preliminary elements you must have in mind before you start mapping out a TV Series are the hook and the inciting incident. These dramatic elements need to be in place as they will set the basis and become the foundation for the entire series arc. A series is but a film script broken down into parts and expanded into windows through which you can look at the ramification of the trunk or plot into chapters or episodes— much like a novel. Getting someone, a ghostwriter, to develop your idea professionally and create a Pitch Packet, then place the script in the hands of the attentive ears of decision makers interested in the genre—that is the ideal, for the right price. Even if you have an MFA in screenwriting or have been to film school and produced a feature as an indie and guerrilla filmmaker, like me, you need an industry insider who gets the attention of decision makers to be guiding you by the hand. If someone with industry experience says your project is likeable and doable, then, a big wigger might look at it and take a risk on it. You will be so grateful, so feel that way already. Meanwhile … and for the DIY guerilla filmmaker whose chances of breaking into the industry can be the toughest thing ever, like mine, don’t quit learning and doing just because you feel FAME AND FORTUNE are inaccessible.


Make whatever is accessible to you happen, and that is enough! When the door of opportunity opens, be ready to pitch, but Your Idea only has a few minutes to persuade someone else of its value. Make your Pitch stand out and matter. Own your story! Tell it “Every which way” you want and from different points of view. Change, add, take out, and give it away for others to love. Why will anyone want to continue to read after a few pages or watch that show to the end? Making adaptations from one format to another, book to series, for example, may be particularly challenging but when there is “STORY,” there is a way. Turn your story into as many formats as possible. Comics and graphic novels are in high demand. They each require a different type of writing skill and have a specific format. To create a Pitch Packet for a 1-hour TV series, start by knowing everything about the requirements of the format.

What is the difference between Serial and Episodic TV Shows? The main difference rests in that the Arc of the series encompasses all the seasons of the series as one consistent story sequence told across many episodes season by season—grouped according to plot point spinooffs. Episodic shows are stand-alone, so the arc does not extend across more than one episode. Even though the Set and Characters are recurrent, the story lines change from episode to episode. In contrast, in a serialized show, every episode moves the plot forward to the next plot point in the series arc and there is a resolution to that episode although not to the entire series.


A serialized TV show is unlike episodic TV in that although both are written in episodes, Episodic TV is not serialized, or its plot is not continued, therefore each episode stands alone. Characters may or may not be recurrent in an episodic TV Show. But in a serialized TV Show, often called a Series, episodes have their own arc, and at the same time, they are part of a grander plot arc across several episodes and seasons.


Teaser Scene Act One Act Two Act Three Act Four (Sometimes) Act Five, plus a Tag The duration of the drama series 1-hour TV show structure allows 15 minutes of ads to be placed in between the acts. Required by networks before the streaming fever took over America, it is no longer the norm. Done away with forced Cliffhangers every 8-10 minutes, there is further freedom for writers to create shows of any duration. Streaming has changed the landscape of the 1-hour TV drama series allowing for a more holistic development of the Story Plot. The first plot point doesn’t have to come within the first 7-15 minutes or pages in the script.

The Logline: Tell your story in one sentence. When …… Elements of a logline: · Protagonist · Inciting incident · Goal · Central conflict · Don’t give away the ending What is a movie Tagline? Taglines are catchy phrases that sell a point. Ex: “Who you gonna call?” From Ghostbusters movie.

What is in a story? Someone wanted to ………. But………. Character Place Problem Action Resolution Moral The 3-Act Story The Arc – From resting place to resting place The Dan Harmon Story Circle– this journey is often viewed as circular WHAT IS A SYNOPSIS?

Once you have arrived at Story, it is time to summarize it. What is in a synopsis. Firstly, a synopsis is a brief summation of a story. A synopsis must include all the elements mentioned above that make up the story plus the mood and tone. Namely: 1. Characters in pursuit of a goal. 2. Events reveal purpose (the inciting incident, turning points, plot points) 3. Obstacles, conflict (the antagonist) 4. Tone, mood, theme (revealed through feelings and settings) Every synopsis no matter how short or long has three main parts. · Characters – any archetype combination · Conflict – stakes are higher and higher · Arc – narrative from beginning to end In screenwriting/film, a synopsis is best when only one or two pages long and has all the information about the genre, the title, and the logline, followed by a 5-paragraph storyline narrative highlighting the major plot points and key characters.

What’s the hook? Let’s look at that closely. It’s not about what the story is about. Ask yourself “what’s the point?” What’s going to make someone want to stay up all night, episode after episode, until the end? What’s the buy-in? Before I lay out the template that will list and categorize all the elements that tell a story in a show, (which is all of them), ask what the million-dollar question is. “What’s the Hook?” Be ready to give this up at once. Anecdotally, this strikes an antagonistic chord in me. I am a rebellious storyteller who tries to be above the hero-driven and dualistic plot problem/solution of the elementary brain I tried so hard to bring into the third dimension of critical thinking. Professor Rosenberg at MIU’s short-lived Film Production MFA program used to ask that question a lot. So much so that I remember it quite clearly. My reaction was, “Do I have to have a hook?” followed by “What if I don’t want one?” Being able to answer that question readily when Prof. Rosenberg asked, left a dendrite on my brain. The first thing I do when I watch a TV show is ask myself “what’s the point? I would like to say to him: “Thank you “Profe”— you were my favorite at MIU’s Film Production Program (Miami International University); your creativity was outstanding when you made it snow in the Keys for your movie about escaping Nazism in a train. You also have real-life big production experience with cranes and all that. You are also a weird artist because you are the only Diorama Artist I know. However, dioramas and film go together simply perfect so I think I will start to create my own, too. Hey guys, check out Aleks Rosenberg’s Art Gallery and ask him “What’s the hook, Profe?” He’ll grin while looking at you over his spectacles waiting for you to reply to your own question.


THE HOOK brings you back… Simply put, every story has a problem which someone tries to solve. The hook is whether the stakes are high enough to merit watching. How much does it grab you in the gut, the spine, the limbic brain? The hook is not the inciting incident. But it can be imbued in it. Everyone knows that a hook is an attention grabber. What will your audience want to find out or discover when they watch an episode, and how big are the stakes? The Hook can be a rhetorical question. An example of just what that may be in a series or play… From Shakespeare’s, The Merchant of Venice: If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?” MasterClass.com explains, a hook is……. “Language designed to motivate, persuade, or inform. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion in communication.” Ask someone to share with you what their favorite show is about, and you will arrive at the hook. Binge watchers won’t stop until the resolution. they want to find out what happens to their favorite character and how the problem was solved because they got caught on the hook. An old “Fill in The Blank” story starter teachers often use: “Someone wanted to… but…” implies there is a need to fulfill in every story. Likewise, wanting to fulfill the psychological need for closure takes viewers identified with the protagonist on a series-long journey.


Why would viewers want to know whether the Hybrid survived and made it back to her jungle? Will viewers identify with the Hybrid? Would viewers want to know what a perfect society might look like? How will viewers identify with the survivors?

Characterization Matters The first word in the sentence above is “Someone.” Nothing happens unless there is SOMEONE. That someone must be the right one for the job. Characters must be real. The protagonist has a bio from birth or even before, if it fits the plot and their history matters somehow. The web of ‘character-action-reaction’ that a story can weave is endless when there is backstory. Characterization is the art of creating a multi-dimensional character the audience buys into, even if it is a parahuman (in the case of the Hybrid). Dialogue and actions, as well the actor’s ability to embody the character, can be achieved in three ways: · Directly, that is explicit physical appearance, profession. · Indirectly, through actions, opinions, and thoughts, what the character says, interactions with others. The audience infers · By reference, what other characters say about a character or how they feel about that character‑3rd person It is important that your character fails, finds help, re-connects with the conflict or problem, then continues to try and have some measure of success or failure to the end.

There are many Character Archetypes: outsider, caregiver, rebel, mentor, professor, warrior, hunk, wise, orphan, hero, jester, seducer, bully. Trickster, damsel in distress, knight-errant, jock.


”There are forms or images of a collective nature which occur practically all over the earth as constituents of myths and at the same time, as individual products of unconscious,” stated Carl Jung, whose theory of human symbolism influenced branding archetypes in marketing, literature, and multi-media communication:


Innocent, everyman, hero, rebel, explorer, creator, ruler, magician, lover, caregiver, jester, sage.


In his acclaimed book, The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler recommends using eight archetypes for characterization in a story: hero, mentor, threshold guardian, herald, shapeshifter, shadow, ally, trickster.

What launches a story? Answer: The incipient Inciting Incident! The inciting incident is not the hook but its consequence, its inspiration, launch pad, and feed. An example could be when the Yanomami mother gives birth to the hybrid in the Padua River. This creationist event implies the rhetorical question: Can a human be born venomous? Let’s investigate the most popular TV series in the sci-fi genre that match Utopia 101, a post-apocalyptic, non-linear, feminist, magic realism series: For example, Station Eleven, now streaming on HBO Max— the vanguard. Ingenious in several ways, for one, you could even shoot it guerilla style on a shoestring budget and just make sure your cinematographer is the best and you have Shakespearean quality actors. Its inciting incident? When the first victim of the pandemic collapses and dies on stage. Turning Points and Plot Points A plot point advances the action to the next level but is not the point of no return in the plot. Example: Someone hiding a gun and ammunition in a safe place at home is not a turning point, but it is a plot point. After witnessing a mass murder, sending the gun back to the manufacturer and picketing against gun violence is a turning point.

What is the Mood and Tone of the Series? Example: Station Eleven is one of the most popular series on HBO. It is rooted on a plausible reality, one that seems increasingly probable. In this TV sci-fi show, a great pandemic destroys human life to the point of extinction. A troupe of survivors travel the countryside experiencing PTSD as they bring whatever is left of culture to other survivors’ groups along the way to nowhere. Similarly, Utopia’s survivors practice life as a sangha where everyone has a voice, a choice, and a chore to do in a One for ALL commune. Their focus, however, is not on the past, however, but on a future enlightened society in which there can be no suffering.

The mood in these two shows is different. One is optimistic and regenerating and the other is lost in its painful memories and stranded in their present lives.

In Utopia’s world, a tepui is the natural environment. A tepui is a huge rock formation that juts straight up from within the Earth in the savannahs of the Amazon Rainforest between Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. Its plant and animal life are still a mystery to us.


Let’s make the magic happen! STORY! is King, not just “content,” as they say in marketing.


Story is but a complementary set of elements in a plot of possibilities that moves a character from point A to B, for a purpose. That’s the hook, the purpose. And what happened to set off the action? That’s the inciting incident.


The Pitch Packet Contents:


· Series Pitch · Series Proposal · Show Bible


The Series PITCH leads to the PROPOSAL:


“Pitch” is a generic term that can refer to the 3-5-minute aural pitch known as the elevator pitch, in which an expanded logline sells the story idea. The Pitch Packet, on the other hand, has multiple documents.


The Pitch is a short, one-to-two-page summary with a brief description of the series. if you do a decent job of making the producers salivate here, you’ll get a chance to expand it in the Proposal.


The aural presentation of a story idea to a group of industry decision makers who can green light it—that’s a Pitch, the front page.


However, just because it’s short it doesn’t mean the information is not all there.


The pitch could be compared to an executive summary. It is part of a comprehensive packet with several components including the Proposal, the Bible, and the Treatment of the Pilot Episode. The Pitch Packet includes financials and even a shooting schedule and budget for the first episode. Keep in mind that TV Series don’t publish their numbers like Box Office films do.

The PITCH sells the idea

in as few pages AS POSSIBLE:

Title
Author

Based on

Genre
Series Logline

Series Synopsis

Series Description
Main Character(s) profile
Pilot Ep. Synopsis
Comparable Series

Talent

Target Audience


Why not give the producer a glimpse of the entire show? But don’t give away the ending or resolution. Whet their appetite. Let her know what the Story is and that you have all the series components. This document sells the series idea and the buy-in to the main character.

The PROPOSAL expands on the PITCH

A proposal is an expanded description of the show. It summarizes at least three seasons’ arcs, the main character profiles, the Series synopsis, the Pilot Treatment and the Script.


For financials, to estimate the budget, offer comparable genre series and research their budget to make recommendations. The production cost of a series episode can be 3 to 4 million dollars. Utopis 101 is a show that can be done with $300K. But never say that.


Alternatively, you could create a shooting schedule based on the first episodes’ pilot to propose an estimate of the production time length and the series budget size.


The Series PROPOSAL contains:

All the Above in the Pitch, plus:

· Series Arc

· Pilot Ep. Synopsis

· Pilot Ep. Treatment

· Pilot Episode Script

· Set Requirements for the series world

· Main Characters in-depth profile and Pilot characters short profiles.

· Comparable financials and audience analysis.


What does a SERIES BIBLE hold:

THIS IS THE WHOLE ENCHILADA!


Character descriptions are lengthier, and the seasons’ arcs are described in more detail.


Broken down into Arcs and Arcs into Acts and Acts into Plot Points—the Bible keeps the entire series blueprint in place.


The Bible helps support the tone and mood of the series. This is the place to go when adding new characters and adding conflict to create the episodes in the seasons. If it doesn’t fit the mood and the characters’ backstories, it isn’t a good fit. Episodes must comply worth the story’s tone and mood. Unless…well, anything is possible in the movies.

What is a Treatment

Some people say they can shoot from a treatment because the treatment describes the scenes. But only in as few words as possible.


The treatment is a step-by-step replay of the pilot script. So is the outline, for that matter. It narrates the story with the intensity and depth that persuades. The language of the Treatment is a descriptive prose that brings the reader to the plot points and turning points by way of storytelling devices.


What is the difference between a Treatment and an Outline?

The language, for one, is the main difference between the Treatment and the Outline of a screenplay. While the Outline is a writing tool used by writers to plot out the script, the Treatment is a selling document presented during the dealmaking meetings and passed around from one producer to another and read by actors and investors on the project.


The language of the Treatment is a descriptive prose that brings the reader to the plot points and turning points by way of storytelling devices.

What is the difference between an Outline and a Beat Sheet?

The script outline expands the major beats into scenes. There are two kinds of beats, low and elevated level. A beat is the pause between dialogue, the minor and major actions. The beat sheet creates the backbone of a screenplay.

It has an intensity scale rating.



The Arc or curve determines the intensity of the ride along the journey from start to finish.
Story mapping on an axis, the character.





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