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The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 15 of 21

Creating the Seasons


The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 15 of 21

Creating the Seasons


Lesson Info

Creating the Seasons

The other one is creating the seasons um which is as I was saying it's as your pitching it you're pitching the siri's with this whole siri's is about you are talking about the pilot episode obviously talking a lot about the lead character in the other characters but you also have to have a general kind of way idea of what season one is this is how the whole first season will play out in this will be the season ender and then you kind of need in amore broadway not not quite as much detail of season one what the subsequent seasons will be I mean they could just be this is what it could be this is this is where we could go season to season three but all of that is in the pitch so basically when you create a serious you're not just write a pilot you really are creating serious and you really have to know it all um to a good degree so I would ask what siri's you like and why do you like him so go ahead uh like orange is the new black winning one of my favorites like the complexity of charac...

ters and the fact that there's so many individual stories right and how did that one that I know that one too and I saw it but that was a premise pilot right that started with her being put in prison yeah and it's serialized um and it's also interesting because it's forty five minutes long without commercial break so it's more like doesn't fit into you know a convenient needs but it's ah it's a great mix of drama and comedy like that um yes yeah was gonna say boardwalk empire was something that riveted me for years you know there was I forget how many seasons it was but nucky thompson and kay steve buscemi uh you know it's kind of one of those unsavory characters that you just kind of fall in love with and I was appreciated how he wasn't like tom cruise good looking guy you know is just kind of like uh salt of the earth but a little gritty you know, stuff like that but the show flash this pg thirteen is it is I like how it ends up in the end but there is the serialized aspect of uh the hero trying to resolve the death of his mother is kind of like how it keeps going on and uh and there's betrayal that's going on and so uh you know not to give too much about show but just that there's enough in it to where I can kind of overlook the pg thirteen side of it or it's like, oh yeah, you know it's like a guilty pleasure I feel like I'm thirteen you know and uh so it's fun you know I've watched every single episode and for something that doesn't have cable I know that's a stretch for me to find him out okay, okay. Uh like a arrested development it's a company? Yeah, I guess that's like serializing close ended because, you know, each episode office stands on some but the jokes and running gags kind of built on top of each other as you go throughout season. So right? Yeah, it's pretty much that that started as a premises. Well, I mean, serialize usually does, but yeah, the character got thrown in prison, right? I checked it all off. Yes, I think, uh, one of my favorite our long tv shows, this one called fresh meat. I don't know if any of you have seen it it's an english program, but I really took to love it because, um, it just tracks some students living together forcibly in student housing throughout their university careers, and I think that the situations and the characters really, really build up on each other in a way that I haven't seen before and so it's only been through. I think this is the third season, but I can really see where characters in the third season how they've changed from the first season based on things that have happened and they really captured this kind of awkwardness of being at a university great, great so how are episodes would you say are they generated? I mean, what sort of springs? One week's episode into being it's usually somebody's character flaw causes a problem very often there is the character on the show named j p and he is considered to be very posh she's very rich and he has these outlandish ideas like let's go buy a house and all the other university students like no we can't buy house but the episode becomes let's see if we can entertain jp's idea of buying a house and see how far it goes and it will lead into an actual conflict of relationship that is more of a an actual issue to the long term serious story but it's always it's typically some character flaw and someone just says let's go do this weird thing no one else wants to do it but they go along with it anyway, right? Right um I want to talk about my experience writing a pilot that got shot it's called semper fi semper fi, I guess is the latin pregnancy um and the it was a premise pilot and it would be if it was planned to be a serialized type shell was produced. One was mentioned when I was introduced by steven spielberg and because it was written as a two hour pilot it wound up being shown has a to our movie for television even though it was never picked up to go to siri's but it was a premise pilot in which the idea of the show was going to be that we follow six marines all the way through they're increasing involvement in the marine corps so the two hour pilot was about their basic training and it was a situation where we saw him go always through basic training and get to the end of it and how they're different from when they started and they're ready to go you know, into the marine corps now and become marines but it didn't it didn't get picked up, but what was interesting is I remember struggling with all that stuff of I'm setting everything up but I want it to be something that plays on its own with its own value on dh that's always a struggle and writing it is a two hour almost felt sometimes like I was writing screenplay although it did have eight act breaks and they actually had to be there and they had to be good act breaks you go to commercial and you want to come back um but uh, since we've basically started all this by talking about screenwriting and writing screen feature films, I'd like to ask you first um how since we we understand something of each thing you're writing um I want to talk about how it could be a siri's so I want to start with you just speculating how could your idea be a serious um I think that the accident could be the the accident of the mother and you're getting hospitalized could be with starts the pilot sets up what's gonna happen with the sister and the best friend being involved in the life and I guess after that he could just like separate into individual conflict based on their interactions with the husband, right? Right. So how do you imagine season one plane out of that situation? No, um I mean, I'm just just free associate it's not you don't have to be exact so I think it would definitely be serialized one leading to the next already built up to escalate um through act to end it with um it would be a one season serious. Ah, a limited siri's yeah, because the ending is very much has to do with the mom getting back and re joining the family and you don't foresee that that could launch a season two or something maybe you're getting any okay, okay, I got a few moves in that's kind of common three's company and eighty shows you know, it's like introducing some new character but it can also that's a whole jumping the shark kind of thing that's not necessarily just the shock I mean yeah it's true that second season sometimes can start character being introduced the season finale of season one stuff like that but so for me with hey v tech it does have a false ending already so introduces the protagonist in a new light more powerful than he started more confident with his two new legs but s o I can see it being a trilogy I think it would just kind of like in the theme of flash it was just require a lot of nasty bad guys, you know? So as long as I could continually find, you know villains than, uh, a v text would have plenty toe to kind of work out and maybe texture all over the world so it wouldn't be hard to you know how you're doing a show in berlin and then surprise there's a bad guy, you know? I'm not going to stuff, so I'm really kind of globally thinking so I love the idea, you know, just kind of moving the small cast around and throwing tons of stuff at him, right? Yeah, I mean, just like introducing the technology of the a v stuff it's like kind of nerdy that way, and I think that that's one the things I notice is that some shows if you can tap into the subculture, you know, people that I don't know if, uh lauren is the new black enough that they're trying to grab criminals or you know like certain shows if they're trying to get the meth people or you know it doesn't have to be literal well I guess is what I'm getting right you know right people attached to the theme like now madam knows your years is you're serious basically a suspect for a show that already exists but one idea I haven't like fully thought through but I thought be interesting have ah movie about don't tell us you're right okay no because if it's uh if it's a serious idea I don't need to reveal it I want you to tell me later by myself I have never mind the with tape recorder I alright but what kind would you like to do? I'm just generally speaking serialize comedy I think serialize is kind of the new thing you know have like a definitive starting and and not try toe generate this thing that you're trying to make it last reverend opposite it can't so then it kind of peters out you know for five seasons and instead to have like a really focused and to go towards them so serialized comment yeah that's um and your idea is a serious uh my idea I feel like if I were to create my family drama feature as a siri's I think they take a few step back in time and have it start with when the main character's parents start to kind of develop disabilities and give up on parenting so that we could see the main character grow into this parent role. I'm not necessarily sure what kind of conflicts might exist there, but just seeing when kind of develop into being the head of the household and then who knows maybe it could go a few seasons and it would end with her going toe and what you and kind of so where my feature is would perhaps be like the last season, but I think it would be really interesting just to see her grow into a parent and see those individual struggles and learning too take care of her parents and learning to take care of her sister and going to her sister's school and seeing how that changes her as a person right good good we simplify we had to come in the plan that we had was that they would go through the actual stages that marines go through they would go to their military occupation school so there would have to be this episode the exciting military occupation school but of course it's the character drama that was going on between them that would be fueling all that, but I kept wanting it you know, when we were talking about the first season wanting to like what I'm going to get him, you know, shooting guns I want to get him into some kind of situation and so it was interesting to figure out the arc of the whole first season because this was there was serialized butt every step of the way seemed to be a close ended concept about what their experience would be basic training, military occupation, school, a lot of time on a ship before they hit the shore, and so it was like becoming this this thing of, well, that's, kind of like serialized in closed into at the same time until I could get him somewhere where they're out in the field and all kinds of stuff is going on. Um, but that was interesting because the challenge was becoming like I want to make it serialize, but the material is telling me it's got to be closed um, but I guess the main thing is if you're thinking about a siri's and you've all said, you know, good things about, um, think of your own work is a siri's is really the desire, the passion to stay with this lead character and these supporting characters and live with them over and over and over again and just being one team to write them and just go on and on and on and I mean that's really what has to drive it? I don't think that, um, taking an idea, maybe it was given to you maybe it's an adaptation, maybe something, but where they want to make a siri's out of it but anything that you feel eighty five to ninety percent on that's not enough I don't think for television it's got to be I want to live and breathe this thing for the rest of my life I have to write these people and to me they suggest so many different ways that can all go things can change and I like the idea that, uh, of your first siri's ending with the wife coming home it's like well there's you know there's a whole new way to go but there's something there I mean, those people have been created and that could be a whole incredible second season for that but the main thing is I think you have to just feel like you're a volcano uh that has to spew out lava of this siri's forever that's how you have to feel about it television um it's um it's just critically important one of the things I did in a pilot once and this one didn't get shot it's interesting is you can have ideas where there are inherent problems he didn't even think of that would affect what it would be like a za siri's so I wrote something where the lead character is a surveillance expert and the episodic nature of it would be the case of the people he's surveilling now he has a partner, he has a love interest, they have thiss all the stuff going on with characters that he iraq's with, but what was interesting was the if you want to call him the guest cast the characters that it just for that particular shell, that episode he watches, he doesn't interact with, um directly, um and this was a pilot that I wrote it got it was between that one other thing that actually got done, then, um, they created a whole new contract to start me over but do basically that same idea again, but with some changes that I thought of it everything, but it still had that element to it, and it got all the way up to the second time where it was just between that and one other one, and it didn't go, and it wasn't until then that the head of the er network was cable channel said they just realized that there's not a lot of ways that the lead and the people around lead this partner in would interact with any of the people that come in for that episode story, and it wasn't entirely true because the person that hired them there's that there's things that are always going on their nefarious with the person that hired him and sometimes he's turning against them and surveilling them, but there was interaction, but there would be a significant part of the episode that's hermetically sealed from the lead character and it took that long to realize that there was an inherent flaw in the concept which I have by the way solved now I've solved it so you know I'm going to go back with that thing, but but it's interesting that you could go that far down the road and there's something intrinsic to the idea from the get go that is actually a problem in a serious you would have that kind of thing figured out in a feature film very rapidly after you do your second rewrite. Oh yeah, well, this whole thing can't take place on mars whatever it is I mean, you had figured it out but it's interesting serious you have to think all the way down the line what are episodes like and it's almost like you have to have done it before you did it. You have to have thought of it before you thought of it something that is made into a feature film and then after that it becomes a television siri's um you've actually demonstrated that that could be done with your ideas. Your feature film is the then that's what launches it all of course shows that are based on a feature film I mean the siri's that still have to have a pilot and it still has to be a pilot in the cells of function like a pilot um and not just be the feature film all over again but, um it happens when an idea is one that just has those legs to it like buffy the foot back because we buffy the vampire slayer has that kind of feeling to it. I mean, when I saw the movie I could see you sequels right? And some movies do wind up having sequels but it was in a situation that would clearly keep generating story ideas so you could have an idea for a feature and not maur fit into a serious because I forced you if you could have something you write and and you know knock on wood hopefully gets made and it is a feature and it could still become a serious or you could have something that is, uh it doesn't you know, nothing happens with it is a feature and you could reconsider it has launching a siri's uh if it feels like it has, like I said, if it makes you turn into a volcano says I'm gonna want to write these characters for the rest of my life well, then maybe you should pursue it as creating serious, you know, e r was a screenplay for a feature film the and I mean, I think it was I think it was changed. I've heard no word that it wasn't even changed, that they they had to compress it to an hour, but they basically just cut stuff out and used it as a pilot. But it was michael crichton's screenplay for feature script. First, they just decided this really could go on and be a siri's. So, naturally that's that's, very possible with feature ideas, since you're going to be thinking about feature ideas a lot. Um, if you have any interest in television, it doesn't behoove you to think about your ideas as if there could be serious, because you may want to go that way.

Class Description

Screenwriting classes often either lean too heavily on theory or simply study the technical approach to writing without a greater context for its use, as if the act of screenwriting exists in a vacuum – it does not. In The Screenwriters Toolkit with Jim Uhls, you’ll learn both the nuts and bolts of the craft, as well as its relationship to getting your work read and ultimately produced.

Jim’s sceenwriting credits include the modern classic “Fight Club” the feature-film "Jumper" the NBC television film "Semper Fi" and the SyFy miniseries "Spin" In this class, he’ll share lessons from his extensive experience writing for Hollywood and the small screen. He’ll teach you how to develop better scripts, get traction for your projects, and navigate the complex professional landscape of script development.

You’ll learn about screenwriting form and content, including:

  • Vocabulary and formats
  • Dialogue vs silence
  • Adapting existing works for the screen
  • Genre-writing

Jim will also share essential insights on developing a career in screenwriting. 

You’ll learn:

  • The differences between writing for television and features
  • Who to work with: agents vs managers vs lawyers
  • How to obtain and manage projects of various sizes and contexts

The Screenwriters Toolkit is a comprehensive examination of screenwriting form, content, craft, and traffic. You’ll learn how to adapt your content to the size, genre, and desired professional result of the script while also learning about the best on-ramps for aspiring writers.


Karla KL Brady

I would definitely recommend this class for first-time screenwriters and writers in general. I'm a novelist that would like to turn a couple of my stories into screen plays. I was mostly interested in the "dos and don'ts" which he supplied in a generous number. He gave a lot of great examples. I enjoyed the format with the students and he pretty much walks you through the entire process, including and especially the three-act structure which can be applicable to novel writing, too. He gave a lot of great examples. I would have liked a more extensive discussion on loglines and writing the action, but this certainly is enough to get you started. For the price, you can't beat it.


I came to this site by accident and then found some well known internet marketers here, who had already been sending me helpful emails and offers for some time, which I have used. What I like about the video contents is, that it is good old-fashioned skills and crafts development, rather than just formulaic, churn it out in big numbers advice. Whether screen writing, script writing, creative writing, news writing, etc. there is a structure and guideline for contents, order, grammar, etc., but the appeal is towards the development of one's creative side. I am normally involved in non-fiction writing, so this is a nice, creative side-kick, which no doubt will help my other work. As prolific author Isaac Asimow said, "If you want to learn to write, then you must write".


I would certainly recommend it to others, as there are some really great tips throughout the courses, across various aspects of film script writing.. That said, I would like to recommend however: - to have one version that is focused solely on film writing; eliminating the parts about teleplays and series, as those one or two did not relate to the rest of the course. - in its place, I would have loved to observe the coaching and critique on the writers film ideas, loglines, titles and such. I was very interested in knowing the do's and don'ts, what works and doesn't work, and what the proper approach is. Although he made mention of some of them in his overall content, relating them back to the writer's specific work would have been very beneficial.