Winning TV SPEC Screenplay – BETTER CALL SAUL, by Jimmy Prosser

Genre: Crime, Drama

Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.

Narrator: Val Cole
Jimmy: Noah Casey
Mike: David Schaap
Bobby/Nacho: Gabriel Darku
Talbot/Hector: Neil Bennett
Secretary: Clare Blackwood
Kim: Lauren Toffan

Get to know the writer:

What is your TV Spec screenplay about?

The logline is “Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.” Going deeper, this episode provides viewers a better understanding of why Jimmy McGill cares about his clients, and particularly those over their head and in situations they did not anticipate. In a flashback, we see teen Jimmy (along with young buddy Marco) devising a clever money making scam but abandoned by older brother Chuck once caught. In present day, Jimmy identifies too closely with an accused teen as he struggles to find a way to defend him. We also learn more about the Hector/Gus rivalry as they make moves to expand from meth to a new heroin derivative that became very hot in this time frame.

How does this episode fit into the context of the TV series?

“QUESO” would be Episode 26 ½ (during Season 3 between episodes 6/7) and opens on Jimmy’s first attempt to satisfy his community service requirements following his suspension by the New Mexico Bar Association.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Achilles heal

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

The show I’ve watched repeatedly over the years is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Each of the characters are perfectly drawn and I admire the writers’ willingness to really push boundaries. However, the show that I currently admire most is “Black Mirror.” I have been focusing on one-hour drama and, as I work on my own pilot and series bible, the tone and structure of “Black Mirror” is what keeps coming to mind. If I could write for one show, it’s “Black Mirror.”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I will be graduating in a few months from New York University’s (NYU), Tisch School of the Arts, where I study Dramatic Writing and Producing in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. I’ve written plays, screenplays and sitcoms, but this script, QUESO, is my first one hour drama spec, which I wrote over 12 weeks this past summer.

How many stories have you written?

I’ve always liked to tell stories – but mostly orally to my family and friends. About 4 years ago, I began dramatic writing in earnest so over that time I must have written 20-30 short stories, plays, screenplays, sitcoms and now television drama scripts.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Being a kid growing up in San Diego during the 2000s, I have to say “I Miss You” by Blink-182.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I believe I’ve been able to capture the characters/dialogue and tone of “Better Call Saul” pretty well so the toughest part for me is to formulate the proper four act structure in a way that really communicates the right arc for the A, B and C stories.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Music, definitely. My favorite escapes are listening to music alone or grabbing instruments to play with my buddies as loudly as we can. When I write, a soundtrack always is in my head.

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

As I mentioned before, I’ve written a lot but this is my first drama spec so I was anxious to hear objective feedback. Some of the feedback I received was right on; some I think missed aspects of the script, especially when it comes to Jimmy’s motivation to help Bobby.

You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

FilmFreeway has been great. My first experience with it was submitting a short screenplay, “NOTEWORTHY,” which won several festivals and is going to be shot in January. We hope to submit that completed short film to several of the best festivals next year via FilmFreeway because it is very easy to use.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

As painful as it is, I feel that you must create a full beat sheet before trying to write the script! Once that solid outline is in place, the writing comes much easier. It is tempting to write a fun standalone scene as soon as you think of it, but if you don’t have your structure in place you may find yourself spending too much time trying to wedge that scene into the overall story. 

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

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Original Script Reading of QUANTICO TV Show, by Leslie Lyshkov

Watch the September 2017 Winning Screenplay:

In the present day, both Alex and Ryan are assigned to the American Southwest. Alex to offer security to a fringe gubernatorial candidate. Booth to infiltrate a dangerous alt-right militia. In the flashback, Owen’s CIA trainees are assigned to launder money out of foreign country back to the United States.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Alex Parrish: Premika Leo
Ryan: James Boutcher
Harry/Putin: Rob Notman
Eddie: Brandon Knox
Popeye: Luke Robinson
Abigail Torres: Julie McCarthy
Shelby: Lindsay Rolland Mills

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay based on the TV show about?

Because my teleplay uses the flashback/flash-forward format of season one and two Quantico, my A-story and B-story occupy separate time lines. The flashback B-story is a “typical” episode at The Farm where Owen Hall tasks the CIA trainees to complete a training mission within a single episode. The A-story conforms to the series multi-episodic format for the flash-forward sequence. In this case, a new setup for a new flash-forward sequence. I saw no other way to write a Quantico spec within the second season format.

How does this screenplay fit into the context of the TV series?

Quantico’s format and principal cast are expected to change for Season 3. However this spec remains a continuation of Season 2. Because no Season 3 episodes have aired yet, I have no idea how this spec will fit within the series after (S3:E1) airs.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Documentary-Fiction. Fictional setups written months earlier are being caught up by current events. The WILDsound Festival can attested to this. This teleplay was submitted in May and Charlottesville occurred the month AFTER the teleplay was selected by WILDsound.

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

I like the original UK version of Life on Mars for its over-the-top characters. At present, I am binge-watching The Wire in preparation of tackling my first pilot teleplay.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Six months total. I began to binge-watch Quantico a year-ago because it seemed a good prospect for a spec teleplay. I spent two months outlining a story, three months writing the teleplay’s first draft, and one month rewriting and polishing its second draft. All writing was done in spare time. The script reflects somewhat under 200 actual hours labor. It could’ve been finished in four weeks if it had been a full-time project.

How many stories have you written?

Not enough. My portfolio consists of two feature length screenplays, an under-feature length 60-some page thriller, and this spec episodic. My goal for 2018 is to write a pair of 1-hour television pilots.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

George Gershwin’s Summertime. It’s not my all time favorite song but I do like it a lot and I’ve heard so many cover versions by so many artists that there couldn’t be a song I’ve heard more often. For anybody unfamiliar with jazz, the rock band Sublime’s Doin’ Time is a cover of Gershwin’s Summertime.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

This was easy. Character and tone are the toughest things for me to write. In this episodic spec, rather than create characters and create a tone, I mimicked Quantico’s characters and its tone. Regrettably, my talent for mimicry clearly exceeds that for creativity.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Bicycling and swimming. I am not particularly passionate about what a writer should be passionate about such as: reading, film, or television. My favorite part of writing is typing THE END at the very bottom of the last page.

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I figure that a spec teleplay exists only to get exposure and that WILDsound’s table reading is that kind of exposure.

You entered your screenplay via Withoutabox. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Withoutabox is the easiest-to-navigate submission platform for the technically challenged, such as myself.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

I’m convinced that, for the vast majority of us, writing a feature script is an exercise in futility. Although I don’t share the same pessimism toward television writing at this moment, I have no idea how ‘ll feel about it a year from now.
Don’t be in too big a hurry and wait until you have a polished draft before submitting to a writing competition. The worst thing that can happen with a script is to have a rough-draft make the finals or place third when a polished draft might have actually won.

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

August 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 3 TV Screenplay Winners for August 2017:

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – RICK & MORTY
August 2017 Reading
by Daniel Richardson
 

ACTORSTUDENT TV PILOT Screenplay – EVERHART
August 2017 Reading
by K. Wayman Dodd
 

ACTORLGBT TV PILOT Screenplay – THE DISAPPEARANCE
August 2017 Reading
by Jess Harris Distefano
 

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

July 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 3 TV Screenplay Winners for July 2017:

ACTORFAN FICTION TV PILOT Screenplay – D FOR DEXTER
July 2017 Reading
by Jessi Thind

ACTORWESTERN TV PILOT Screenplay – SIRINGO
July 2017 Reading
by Nathan Ward

ACTORANIMATION TV PILOT Screenplay – CHICKEN COP
July 2017 Reading
by Bryan Cahill

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

August 2016 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 3 TV Screenplay Winners for August 2016:

RICK & MORTY “The Cokeroach” TV SPEC
Written by David Cryan
Read 10 Questions with the writer

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
RICK – Stephen Flett
MORTY – Adam McNamara
BETH – Laura Darby
JERRY – David Straus
BLECKAR – Lorne Hiro
GARY – Rais Muoi
SUMMER – Victoria Urquhart

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Comedy, Animation

When Morty accidentally gets his family kidnapped while trying to stop an alien war, he and Rick must execute an elaborate plan to rescue their family and trick the aliens into calling a truce.

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DIGITAL NATIVES TV Pilot
Written by Adam Preston
Read 10 Questions with the writer

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
PHIL – Lorne Hiro
ALICE – Susan Wilson
SAM – Rais Muoi
QUILLON – David Straus
GEORGE – Stephen Flett
JOHN – Adam McNamara
VERA – Laura Darby

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Comedy, Sitcom

When it all goes wrong for Phil Burrows he moves to London’s trendy Shoreditch district to reinvent himself as an on-the-pulse hipster in the place where it’s all happening. Not so hip or on-the-pulse is the fact that this involves moving in with his gran, Alice, who has lived there since year dot. To his horror Phil finds that a strange, vain, deluded twentysomething vlogger has wormed his way into her affections and now occupies the spare room. But horror turns to hope – could the technologically savvy Sam Fazackalee hold the secrets to his success?

*****

SURVEILLANCE TV Pilot
Written by Chris Gebhardt & Jenn Russi
Read 10 Questions with the writer

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Julian Ford
SARAH – Kayla Lakhani
JEFF – Jonathan Shaboo
ALEX – Alicia Payne
MITCHELL – Mark Sparks
DEV – Sean Kauffman
DREW – Shelly Antony

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Drama, Crime, Thriller

When a young woman uncovers an illegal government surveillance program that uses ordinary citizens private lives against them, she finds herself caught between her patriotic roots and the grim reality of government service. Living with Bipolar I disorder, she must find a way to protect her own secrets and determine where she stands in the coming War on Truth.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

TV SPEC Screenplay – RICK & MORTY “The Rickgotiator” by David Cryan

Watch the August 2016 Winning TV PILOT screenplay.

RICK & MORTY “The Rickgotiator” by David Cryan

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Comedy, Animation

When Morty accidentally gets his family kidnapped while trying to stop an alien war, he and Rick must execute an elaborate plan to rescue their family and trick the aliens into calling a truce.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
RICK – Stephen Flett
MORTY – Adam McNamara
BETH – Laura Darby
JERRY – David Straus
BLECKAR – Lorne Hiro
GARY – Rais Muoi
SUMMER – Victoria Urquhart

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your Rick & Morty TV SPEC screenplay about?

My Spec is about Rick learning where he can get some Chromosome Infinity, an elusive and rare substance he’s been after for a while. Rick finds out that it is located in the neutral zone, and if he tries to get it, it could spark an alien war, but he’s selfish. Meanwhile, Jerry tries to get a job and deals with his overall lack of confidence.

How does this screenplay fit into the context of the TV show?

It fits well into the context of the show because it has the big high concept sci-fi A story and a low key down to earth B story that collide at the halfway point.

How would you describe this script in two words?

I wouldn’t.

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Oh boy, one? I have an obnoxiously long list including: The Simpsons, Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep, Futurama, The Critic, Frasier, Community, The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and of course Rick and Morty. That’s me cutting my list short. Like I said it’s obnoxiously long.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I spent roughly two weeks on the outline, another two weeks on a first draft, and then did periodic rewrites over the course of a couple months.

How many stories have you written?

I have written lots of sketches. Two pilots, one of which goes in drawer marked as a learning experience and is to never see the light of day. As well as three specs of existing shows, including Veep, Rick and Morty and an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which I just finished a first draft of and am beginning to rewrite.

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Fear of failure.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Also fear of failure.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Personal privacy.

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I’m at a point where I have enough writing samples that I’m happy with. So I’ve begun actively trying to get my stuff read, be that by submitting to agencies or entering contests. As far as the feedback, some of it I agreed with some of it I didn’t, but it definitely helped make my next draft stronger.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

No.

 

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

July 2016 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 2 TV Screenplay Winners for July 2016:

The Spectral City by Arthur Vincie

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Sci-Fi, War, Supernatural

Three refugees, thrown together by chance, flee a modern-day civil war set in an unspecified country. Evading the army, rebels, bandits, gods, and demons, they head to the one place no one dares go to the Haunted City at the heart of the country. There they seek out the White Witch, who rules the City and who’s either their ticket out or their worst nightmare.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Susan Wilson
JULIET – Courtney Keir
ISHMAEL – Brandon Knox
THEO/MATTHEW – Julian Ford
STEVEN/ADJAI – Sean Ballantyne
JIM – David Guthrie
NURIYAH – Meghan Allen

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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Power Loss by Jennifer Renner

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action, Fantasy

Synopsis: Episode 32.5 of the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The station welcomes visitors from a planet in the Gamma Quadrant that allows only women to hold positions of authority.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Brandon Knox
BENNI – Susan Wilson
SORYA/KIRA – Meghan Allen
DAX/LELA – Courtney Keir
ODO – Julian Ford
BASHIR/QUARK – David Guthrie
SISKO/RISHTA – Sean Ballantyne