Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Webshow: "Reader question about rewriting screenplay as a pilot"

A reader recently asked me if it was a good idea to rewrite his screenplay as a pilot.  Assuming he did this, he also wanted to know if people in the industry would be interested in reading both versions.  Here is what I had to say:


  1. I'm working on an open-ended TV movie about an airline captain who's into kinky sex. It's called BACKDOOR PILOT... I'll be here all week!

  2. IMO, there's a fundamental difference in the structure of a television story versus a feature story and how those two types of scripts are approached. I agree with all your advice, Bitter, but I would also caution people against writing two versions of a screen story, assuming it's just a matter of formatting, and thinking it'll maximize their chances of reaching multiple markets.

    If through the course of developing a story you realize your script works better as a television pilot, I'd stick with the pilot because it's truly the best version of/structure for the story. I wouldn't make a habit of going back to the feature and saying, "Here's an alternative if you're interested," unless the rare case comes along where it's clear that a feature version of the pilot concept is exactly what something someone is looking for. Even if the two don't necessarily overlap, I'm not a fan of having a sub-par version of a story floating around any more than I absolutely have to.

  3. I did this recently. I spent awhile developing a feature length script, really got into the world and when it was over decided the world needed to exist beyond the self-contained story of the feature. Indeed, in the process of shifting that world into the structure of a pilot, things changed, so much so that the two scripts are like cousins- You can see the similarities, but they really exist as their own separate entities. The pilot version got me into a good contest and the screenplay version is there if I need to show someone a feature. I don't think there's anything wrong with this approach as long as you let the story evolve and change, sometimes in big ways as the structure dictates.