2 Hour Pilot? - Complications Ensue
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Q. Should I write a 2-Hour pilot or try to get it done in 1-Hour? Part of me feels it would be natural for one of the stories to unfold over 2 hours as a pilot, but part of me also recognizes a possible danger zone of sending out something twice as big as what someone would normally have to read.
One hour, please. You want to show you can write an hour of great television, not a TV movie.

The day of the two hour pilot is mostly done, thank goodness. I can't think of a two hour pilot that didn't feel like a one hour padded out to double length. Yes, I'm looking at you, FRINGE.

Trim your dialog until it's tight as a drum, drop any scene that isn't strictly necessary, merge characters and plot turns until you've streamlined everything, and you should have no trouble fitting your two TV hours of plot into one TV hour.

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4 Comments:

Thanks! I think, too, the creative challenge of getting it to work in one hour is freeing.

More and more I'm sensing the key word for television is: tight.

By Blogger SH Cone, at 9:46 AM  

My sentiments EXACTLY re: FRINGE. Who didn't watch the pilot without a feeling of outrageous expectations? And while the show wasn't exactly a total let down, I did feel the length was entirely padded by 30 minutes too long. I turned to my friend right after its premiere and commented that while certain scenes were intriguing and included some cool character bits... others were slow, boring, or really seemed like they were in the need of a good editor. Kind of like when you read a writers draft who has come too close to the material he/she can't see the forest for the trees and is unable to cut. I thought the show could have been a much better triple play, had it lost aprox. 30 mins.

I had hoped for a great, twilight zone/ x-files type show, but I came away somewhat not as impressed as I expected. The material wasn't quite as "innovative" as I anticipated from the team.

Interesting to hear someone else comment about the pace of that pilot seeming a little bit off-kilter. Would the series kick-off have left a better impression had it stuck to the 60 min. mark? Will never know.

By Blogger Ryan Covert, at 11:49 AM  

Just for the sake of argument, what about "Serenity," the pilot for Firefly? Padded, or just right?

By Blogger S, at 9:10 PM  

I haven't seen "Serenity" in a while, but my memory is that the FIREFLY pilot was broken into two parts, and they were full one-hour parts. So it didn't feel padded. Each told a story.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 4:45 PM  

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