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Film script or TV Series script?

Hello All.

I have a question I am really intrigued to hear your thoughts about. I am currently in the process of formulating a script and I am at a crunch point. The script can go one of two ways, either into a feature length film script or into a 6 part 40/50 min TV series. I can not decide which way to go as I can see both ways being equally positive. I guess my question is, what type of script has the best chance of moving forward once completed, a Film script or TV script? I feel this is relevant at the moment as so much TV content is being made, whilst the film market is incredibly completive, with wonderful films being made but then being swallowed up and are hardly seen. Thoughts?

  • Would you have a realistic chance of making the film?

    If not, but you could afford to shoot a pilot, write the series, shoot the pilot, if it plays well at festivals, you could be on your way.

    4 months ago
    • Hi Marlom.
      I have thought about is i wrote a feature then i would shoot an extract from it, thn use that to help sell the idea and possible find funding/raise funding.

      4 months ago
    • @Luke Albert - if it makes a good short people will worry that it might not have feature legs, and if it doesn't make a good short, it doesn't work. But a pilot is both a whole thing AND a promise of more. So if costs are similar....

      4 months ago
  • Do both! Nothing prevents you writing two versions and it’s an interesting challenge. Yes, it’s more work; but work that will cross-fertilize. In a Teleplay you can explore more aspects of your characters and the dramatic potential overall of your ideas. A feature screenplay will require you to be tighter and intensify every scene to best effect. You’ll discover more of the potential of your original ideas and that can help you build upon them. I’m not talking theoretically, I’m doing this myself for a thriller story I’ve been developing. Best of luck with whatever you decide!

    4 months ago
    • Hi Ed,
      Wise words! Funny as I did think both myself as I can see the benefits of the develpment of characters, story etc. Itn would add much more time and i do think they are differently world, you do appoaching them differently. Like you said you have more time to explore a series, whereas a film as to be tight where every second counts. I've roughly mapped of 6 episodes, but I now feel the need to research the detials of the world i am setting up. I don't feel ready to write just yet.

      I Guess I am thinking ahead (maybe I should'nt) with the possiblities of getting it made, do i have more chance with a series or feature? people fund and produce their own feature, as do their series...it is a tricky one...

      4 months ago
  • Glad to see Ed's comment here.

    When I'm deciding, I really look at the plot line and the pacing as well as the length and audience. Some things end up as stage plays, others short stories.

    There are plenty of made-for-tv movies, not only on HBO, BBC and Netflix but in other markets as well. (East is East was almost made as a French direct-to-tv film.) So, just because it's for tv that doesn't mean it can't be a feature length film.

    The creator of Babylon 5 wrote radio scripts, comics, children's animation, film and televion, and has some ideas about the different formats on his book on screenwriting.

    You're right about more of a market for broadcast than cinema. But, feature length doesn't have to be exhibited on the big screen. (And the cinemas are now showing live-broadcasts and even video games.)

    But, you can try it both ways, like Ed suggested. See what works. Both markets are incredibly competitive, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    4 months ago
    • Yes, interesting point. I think your write, maybe I am looking at it to black and white anf they series/films can be placed on many different platforms.

      The plot line at the moment does feel like it sits in both camps, hence why i have posted this topic. Maybe i need to progess abit further and the solution will prevent itself. I guess i am trying to pre-empt the better chance moving forward of getting this project made...

      4 months ago
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    4 months ago
    • Dissappointed that you posted this heren Ray, as it has nothing to do with the topic.

      4 months ago
  • I think it has to be decided based on what you think suits the story best. However, in today's marketplace, you would have a better chance getting a miniseries off the ground than a feature film.

    3 months ago
  • In either case, we're talking about pretty small odds and margins, probably small enough than anecdotes are more skewed than the actual data!

    Will you get commissioned to make a TV series without a pilot episode? Even with a pilot episode? Unlikely. Commissions tend to go to known quantities and you won't have access to commissioners so will have to go via production houses they know already.

    Will someone risk the value of one or more houses to give to you to make a feature? Unlikely. Money tends to go where it's got a chance to recoup, and of the 10,000 or so films you see for sale each year at Cannes, maybe 200 or so make it to cinema.

    Ultimately I suppose I'd suggest the pilot short film route, which doesn't cut off your options yet, and go and get some awards and interest under your belt before committing.

    3 months ago
  • Hi Luke - currently in same position. I went to LA American Film Market in November 2019 & met some very interesting people. Film finance is a tricky business. The whole thing is whether your investors will recoup the investment. Most Indie films don't make their money back. Fact! If you haven't looked at www.stephenfollows.com you should do, he has some very interesting articles. I have pitched films a & 1 x 60 TV to Channels in the last year, and the word back (in Non-Factual anyway) is that they always want a "series". If it is repeatable and returnable even better. Also look at your proposed production budget, and try to find out the per hour fees paid for originals. Also investors will prefer the prospect of TV as there is a much wider market place for a series. I don't know your subject, but Stephen (who ran the 7 step Producer course at Ealing) is a font of knowledge. I am reshaping my film to a 6 x 60 (actually between 45 & 50 mins per ep.) Good Luck - hope my twopenn'th has helped.

    3 months ago
  • Hey Luke,

    Cheers for responding! In my (sadly limited) experience, a good narrative idea has inherent dramatic ‘space’; that is, it will stand a lot of rewriting and variations. A good character/situational dynamic is exploitable in a lot of different permutations of story. I find it often helps to write a couple of short ‘test’ scenes, which I may or may not use, to get a feel for the characters. It can also help to switch perspectives between them to see where the interactions lead. Sometimes you can surprise yourself. Best of luck with it!

    3 months ago