Television Writing Intensive

FILM S3040
6 Points with Non-Credit Option
Session I: May 26 - July 2
M, W 10 am - 1 pm & 2 - 5 pm; R 6 - 8 pm
Instructor(s): Alan Kingsberg
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I absolutely loved every minute of the course. Genuinely loved every class. I particularly find the Thursday night workshops pretty inspirational and a breathing space to think about the script from different points of view.
-Student, Summer 2013

I learned so much about the craft and the skill of TV Writing and am so passionate about ideas I came up with in class.
-Student, Summer 2013

I loved the small classes – that way my script was paid special attention to.
-Student, Summer 2013
The Television Writing Intensive is a six-week, concentrated and encompassing introduction into the field of television writing, designed to prepare students for the professional worlds of half-hour comedies, one-hour dramas and police / medical procedurals.  In an interconnected program consisting of two intensive writing workshops and a lecture series with guest writers and professionals in the field, students gain the knowledge and authority to explore, examine and create the kind of groundbreaking work that is taking over cable and making its way onto the Networks, here and around the world. 

The Television Writing Intensive focuses on two specific formats.  One is the half-hour comedy; the other is the one-hour drama.  These two formats, although having much in common, come out of different traditions and are conceived and written in different ways.

This intensive course meets 15 hours per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays for six hours during the day, and Thursdays for three hours.   The Thursday class will meet during the morning for module 1 and during the evening for module 2.  These times are probable but subject to change based on availability of guest speakers and other opportunities which may arise.

The Pilot
3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

We examines the fundamental tools of the craft of television writing while developing and completing the steps towards an original one-hour drama or half-hour comedy pilot. 

With the pilot as focal point, we explore the opportunities and challenges of telling and sustaining a story episodically (one episode per week) and over a long period of time (a year, two years, five years, etc,) with an emphasis on the creation of the quintessential premise and the on-going conflict, be it thematic or literal, behind a successful series.

Over the first week of the course students are required to present/pitch their series idea.  During the subsequent week or two, students are required to create and present a “show bible” for their developing idea; (the “show bible” being the foundation and blueprint of any potential series.) 

As part of the show bible, students present a synopsis for the project’s pilot. This synopsis is the jumping off point for next two to three weeks of work; a required step/beat-sheet (outline) of that pilot.   

The beat-sheet, therefore is, our first step towards the goal of the final weeks of the course which is the beginnings of a finished pilot/teleplay.

Additional course work includes weekly examinations and analysis of successful one hour teleplays, well established series, and the role of the writer-director/executive-producer in the medium.

The Spec
3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

We examine the fundamental tools of the craft of television writing while developing and completing a speculative script for an existing television series.

In this course, the spec is the focal point for an examination on the opportunities and challenges of telling a story within the given limitations of the series and of the form; the emphasis being on the creation of the script's stories. The story, as defined in the industry, is the elemental unit of a television episode.

The goal of the course is to create a professional entry-level sample teleplay.

Additional work includes weekly examinations, analysis of successful teleplays and well-established series, and the role of the writer in relation to the series and its staff.

The Writer's Room
3 hours, 1x per week, 6 weeks

Includes the following two modules:

1. MASTER CLASS – Inside The Writer’s Room
Taught by Executive Producer and Showrunner (Royal Pains, Beautiful People), Michael Rauch. Michael will break down how the writer’s room works at his hit show Royal Pains which currently airs on The USA Network. The three-session class will include a case study of one of the series’ best episodes, a mock writers room where the class will create a “new episode” of Royal Pains and a visit to the Royal Pains set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to watch a scene being shot.  

A three-session class which will feature in-depth analysis of successful teleplays and series from that week’s quest lecturer. Guests will include working writers, producers, directors, executives and actors from the field.

Candidates are required to apply via the online application which will be available at the top of this page in mid-January. The priority deadline for this course is March 15th. After that time, admissions will be on a rolling basis until the start of classes. Qualified applicants are encouraged to complete the application as soon as possible, as we anticipate the course to fill with a waiting list.

Admission to the Television Writing Intensive is competitive.  Students are asked to submit a writing sample, a CV, and a short statement about what you would like to work on during the intensive.

Tuition & Fees
The Summer 2015 standard Continuing Education tuition rate is $1,570 per point ($4,710 for a 3-point course and $9,420 for a 6-point intensive). For more information visit our Tuition & Fees page.
A limited number of non-credit spaces in the course will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The non-credit tuition rate is $6,985.
A materials fee of $150 will also be required, in addition to the standard Columbia University Summer Session facilities and transcript fees.
Limited housing in university dorms will be made available to students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students will be sent a link to the Housing application, once admitted to the course.
For questions about this course, please write to We will do our best to respond to your email within 24 hours. If you wish to speak to someone about this course, please send your phone number and request for a call.
About the Instructors
Alan Kingsberg
Alan Kingsberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he won the Chester Kestler award for outstanding achievement at the Wharton Business School. He received his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where his film Minors won an Academy Award as the top student film in the US. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.