#15 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - “Kimmy Goes Outside” (S. 1 Ep 1)
Kimmy leaves her cult for New York City and experiences the real world which the cult did not prepare her for. An exceptionally good pilot written by the show’s creators, Robert Carlock and (comedy goddess) Tina Fey.
#14 Growing Pains - “Ben’s Movie” (S. 5 Ep. 25)
Ben makes a short film about a one-eyed alligator he flushed down the toilet who comes back for revenge. His movie was a school project, but also an excuse to film a bunch of girls in bikinis. The dialogue was a bit raunchy for a 1980’s family sitcom. The movie is ridiculous, but super funny.
#13 The Goldbergs - “Who Are You Going to Telephone?” (S. 1 Ep. 6)
This is for anyone who’s had a mother who cares too much. Bev and Barry (painted in green because he's The Hulk) shine in this Halloween episode. Also, the storyline with Adam and Pops is pretty uplifting when Pops wants to go trick-or-treating with his grandson, but Adam is getting too old.
#12 Dharma & Greg – “Old Yeller” (S. 1 Ep 14)
Before Chuck Lorre had The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and like every comedy on CBS today, he had Dharma & Greg. In this episode, Dharma buys a bus without Greg’s guidance and shenanigans ensue.
#11 New Girl - “Bob & Carol & Nick & Schmidt” (S. 5 Ep. 5)
This episode proved that New Girl really doesn’t need Jess (as Zooey Deschanel was on fraternity leave) which is crazy unbelievable, but this episode was that funny. This almost felt like a rip-off of a Friends episode (when Phoebe’s brother asks her to have his baby), but then it went into a totally new and hilarious direction. Winston and Cece’s storyline was also hysterical. The entire cast killed it in terms of comedy
#10 30 Rock - “Leap Day” (S. 6 Ep. 9)
Only 30 Rock could take a day nobody really cares about and make it sound like the best holiday ever! Jim Carrey guest stars as we learn about the legend of Leap Day Williams. The mythical figure who turns children’s tears into candy.
#9 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia - “Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense” (S. 8 Ep. 10)
Dennis eats cereal when driving and gets into a car accident with Frank who’s pretty much blind. The gang holds a court case in Paddy’s Pub to see whose fault it is. This episode starts off simple goes to the best ride to Crazytown! The gang starts fighting about eating cereal when driving to debating creationism vs. evolution.
#8 Sanford and Son - “The Copper Caper” (S. 1 Ep 4)
Sanford and Son is my favorite classic TV show and this episode is a laugh riot. Nobody delivered a joke like Redd Foxx. Lamont tries to prove he’s cool, and Fred proves he’s a big dummy. It’s also the first time we meet Officer Swanny and Officer Smitty. The funniest police officers in TV history.
#7 Get Educated - “First Day of School” (Pilot)
So I might be biased because I created the show, but this is my list. I do what I want. In this mockumentary about teachers, Coach Flynn becomes the first female football coach at Millard Fillmore Middle School and must prove she’s worthy to teach an all-boys football team. And word gets around that Miss Pappalardo started menopause and students torment her all day.
#6 The Office - “The Injury” (S. 2. Ep 13)
A classic episode, written by Mindy Kaling from one of the best seasons of any TV show ever. Michael injures his foot on a George Foreman grill and Dwight gets a concussion trying to help him. The cold opening was alone was one of their best.
#5 Broad City - “Pu$$y Weed” (S. 1 Ep. 2)
The pilot of Broad City is good, but the second episode really nailed the tone and direction of what Broad City would become. It’s also the first time we meet Lincoln (Hannibal Buress), and we get classic BC quotes like “Bed Bath & Beyond coupons never expire!” and “I am not a mom!”
#4 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - “Josh and I Go to Los Angeles” (S. 1 Ep 13)
Rebecca Bunch finally gets what she wants from Josh Chan, and it’s a moment that would change the course of the show and satisfy the audience. The fake boyfriend storyline was genius! Also, apparently nobody in West Covina has ever heard of the movie Chinatown and Rebecca faces her rival in the amazing Jewish American Princess Rap Battle.
#3 I Love Lucy - “Job Switching” (S. 2 Ep 1)
Lucy and Ethel think it’s easy to work in the real world. Ricky and Fred think it’s easy doing housework. They both learn it’s not easy. Who doesn’t remember the chocolate factory scene? “Speed it up, Otto!”
#2 Parks and Recreation- “Harvest Festival” (S. 3 Ep 7.)
The beginning of season 3 built to this episode, and it was so worth it. It has the introduction of Lil’ Sebastian before Tom loses him and blames it on Jerry. April tells Andy for the first time, “I love you.” Andy replies, “Awesome sauce.”
#1 The Simpsons - “Lisa on Ice” (S. 6 Ep. 8)
Since I was a kid, this is my favorite half hour I’ve ever seen on television. Lisa and Bart play on rival hockey teams. Homer makes them compete for his fatherly love. Not only do the jokes kill from start to finish, but the ending was heartfelt and hilarious. The final scene emphasizes that there’s nothing more important than family.
We teamed up with Pro Key Entertainment to try and sell "Get Educated" during pilot season! They made this Series Trailer! We just finished a Pitch Packet too and have some meetings planned. The work never ends, but it's worth it.
If you're submitting a script to producers, studios, or even a writing contest, make sure you're not making these mistakes. I see them week after week when doing script coverage.
1) CONFLICT NEEDS TO BE IN EVERY SCENE
This is the first law of screenwriting. If characters just talk in a scene and there's no conflict anywhere then you're going to bore the reader! Put some kind of conflict in every scene or cut the scene altogether.
2) SHOW DON'T TELL
Why have your characters talk about their past when we can see it? If something life changing happened to your character, show it to us! Your audience isn't going to remember words, but they'll remember something they see.
3) EVERY CHARACTER HAS THE SAME VOICE
Every character needs their own voice. If everyone sounds exactly like you then your script is in trouble. Everyone is different so we all talk differently and use different vocabulary. Make sure no two characters sound the same.
" Friends" is a great example. It was a show about six friends living in New York all in their late-20s, yet they all had distinct voices.
RULE OF THUMB
Take a page from the middle of your script and cross out all the names. Then see if you can tell who is talking. Great lesson learned from Blake Snyder's "Save The Cat."
4) TOO MUCH SETUP
When your story doesn't start moving forward until page 34, then I've already already PASSED on your script, I don't care if you have an epic story to come, because I'm already bored. I'm not coming back from that painful 30 minutes I wasted on your script. You setup should be short and state your goal as soon as possible.
Look at "The Hangover," within the first two minutes of the movie, we already know the goal. It's to find their missing friend. The story then unfolds and the characters move forward towards their goal.
5) CHARACTERS HAVE SIMILAR NAMES
Don't have a Josh, Jake, John, and Jeff! Your reader is going to get confused if you have even two characters with the same initial and the same amount of letters in their name.
RULE OF THUMB
Don't have names start with the same initial.
6) YOU'RE DOING THE DIRECTOR'S JOB
You're not the director! You're the writer! Don't tell me how camera angles should go or have a crazy amount of transitions. And never FADE IN and FADE OUT more than once. Amatuer writers love to do more than one of these, but this is NEVER OKAY! The only time you FADE iN is the first thing in your script and the only time you FADE OUT is the last thing.
7) TOO MUCH ACTION DESCRIPTION.
When you're first page is just action description, I'm already cringing at your script. Screenplays are not books! Keep the action description snappy! The more white space on the page, the better. If I get sick of all your action description then after a certain page I'll stop reading it. I'll just go by the dialogue to figure out what's going on. This is especially true for comedies. Brevity is the soul of wit.
8) ING words.
Screenplays are written in present tense, not past tense. Take verbs with ing and replace them with present tense verbs! This also makes your action description snappy and shorter. Don't write:
Lou is running and listening to music.
You're wasting space and this slows down the script. Instead write:
Lou runs and listens to music.
9) Characters talk in Paragraphs!
Dialogue should be snappy, especially in comedy. Don't make me read an entire paragraph of dialogue every time your main character speaks. This not only makes it extremely hard for actors to remember their lines, but it’s not natural. Unless we’re giving a speech or telling a story, we don’t talk in paragraphs.
Watch an episode of Seinfeld and pay attention to how snappy the dialogue is. It's super rare when a character says something longer than three sentences.
10) YOUR FIRST 10 PAGES SUCK
The first 10 pages of every new screenplay are the most important. It's the first impression. If it's comedy, it better make us laugh. The first 10 pages decide if I want to keep reading this or if I'm going to eat, go online, or take a nap. The first10 pages have to draw me in and set the tone.
About the Author ~ Jordan Chadwick Imiola is a screenwriter with years of script coverage experience at management companies, freelance, and currently for a very successful script coverage service.
Get Educated - A new TV mockumentary about teachers learning how to educate teenagers. Imagine if "The Office" took place in a Buffalo middle school.
Written and Directed by Jordan Imiola. Starring David Pinion, Stephen Carey, Nicole Foti, Jordyn Lucas, Maria Paris, Ann Elizabeth Lyon, John J. Pistone, Reid Miller, Amy Letcher, and Karli-Rae Grogan. Written and Directed by Jordan Chadwick Imiola. Produced by Sonja Carey, Jordan Chadwick Imiola, Jessica Frias, and Jade Grace. Guest Starring Tyler Michael Brown, Carson Freeman, Jason Faulkener, Lizzie White, Kyle Heyman, Taylor Rampe, Karah Britton, Danielle Dutton, Devon Franklin, Jarod Bainbridge, Jack Mayorga, Gerson Gomez, Calli Matthews, Tori Griffith, Mackenzi Heyman, Tommy Spaulding, Kaia Jones, Mallorey Wallace, Camryn Griffith, Jessica Eady, Justin Gaylord, Tyler Markham, Nicholas Neresyan, Sophia Mosich, Julienna Perez, Dylan Reilly, Myah Salinas, Kelly Anne Sweeney, Anthony Uribe, Maddie Uribe, and Micah Vosper. Director of Photography - Gio Barot, Sound Department - Nicholas Cuarto. 2015. A Funny Buffalo production.
"Get Educated" is based in Buffalo and almost every scene has something Buffalo related in it. In the very first scene of the show (see clip below) you might notice the poster of Buffalo City Hall and the Buffalo Courier-Express.
For all our gym class scenes, we made posters for several Buffalo teams including the Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Braves, and Buffalo Blizzard, (yes, we know the last two don't exist anymore.) And of course, we have one of cast members wearing a Sabres jersey and the character, Freddy, played by the talented Carson Freeman is wearing a Buffalo Bills Sammy Watkins jersey the entire pilot.
The props of our Principal's office included a poster by a Buffalo artist, Caitlin Krumm, and a Buffalo Bills flask next to it.
For the entire post, click here - http://www.funnybuffalofilms.com/get-educated/get-educated-new-tv-show-based-in-buffalo
PILOT REVIEWS: My girlfriend and I watched most of the new TV Pilots this season and rated them on a 1 to 10 scale. These are the combined scores from both of us and our overall opinions:
A TO Z 5/10 - It would have been better if the entire plot of the pilot wasn’t in the trailer. The show has a cute premise, but for a comedy, it needs to be funny! We didn’t laugh once!
ABOUT A BOY 7/10 - This show came out in July, but got renewed for a second season that already premiered as well. The pilot is better than the episodes following it, but if you like the book and movie, chances are you’ll like the show. The pilot is just a compressed version.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW 5/10 - Didn’t seem as enthralling as other AHF seasons. Maybe it’ll get more interesting, but the premiere was just okay.
BAD JUDGE 2/10 - Lack of Story, fully not believable, bad acting from the kid, and cheap jokes! Definitely will get Cancelled!
BLACKISH 5/10 Needs to be funnier for a family sitcom, but there are some good jokes. And who doesn’t like Anthony Anderson? He’s a great lead!
CRISTELA 8.5/10 - May be the Funniest show of the season, and it’s really a shame ABC chose to put it on Fridays, the night TV is watched the least. It had some great laugh out loud moments and jokes for a multi-camera comedy. Cristela Alonzo, the main character is super likable and this show has the lovable, hilarious, and fluffy, Gabriel Iglesias. Worth Watching!
THE FLASH 3/10 -This is “Smallville,” but worse! Instead of a meteor shower, The Flash is affected by a Storm Cloud (wow!) The story started off all right, but got super cheesy after the midpoint. Seems like different writers had different parts of the script. We looked it up and there were 3 different writers involved and you could tell who wrote what. The writing did not blend together!
FOREVER - 7.5/10 - Another murder mystery show, but what makes this unique is the main character and his ability to come back to life after he dies. They play with this more in the pilot than other episodes, but the use of flashbacks to tie into Henry’s present day story is pretty intriguing. Jess has become a fan and I watch it just to spend time with her. (It’s a hell of a lot better than “Vampire Diaries”)
GOTHAM 8/10 - This is one that we disagreed on. I actually really enjoyed this and plan to keep watching more episodes, while Jess fell asleep during the pilot, but still managed to give it a 5.5. It’s not really about Batman if that’s what your expecting. It’s more of a cop show with bold imagination.
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER 6/10 - “Pretty Little Liars” for adults! It has potential and a lot of questions left unanswered that will make viewers come back week after week. We’re not huge fans of shows in this genre, but if murder is your thing, you might like it.
JANE THE VIRGIN 8/10 - A lot better than most shows on The CW. And the cast is pretty likable. Seems like the underdog show you hope will make it.
MANHATTAN LOVE STORY 5/10 - Likable female lead, unlikeable male lead. Had some cute moments, but failed to be cute or interesting most of the time. And there’s way too much voiceover. The exposition after the cold open was boring and not needed. They need to learn to Show not Tell.
MARRIED 9/10 - Another show that premiered over the summer, but it’s worth checking out if you have F/X. The pilot was fantastic! If you’re in a relationship, then you can relate to the pains of having a spouse. Although, we marathoned through this and the first 5 episodes were great, but the last 5 episodes got horrible as the characters lost their morals and the show lost it’s funny.
MARRY ME 7/10 - Had some funny moments, just wish again NBC didn’t tell the entire story in the trailer! Interested in seeing where it goes.
THE McCARTHYS - 8/10 - Surprisingly Funny! I didn’t laugh at every joke, but the jokes that got me made me laugh really hard out loud. Only saw the pilot, but I’d watch this again.
THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA 3/10 - It’s a mystery how this show got picked up?
RED BAND SOCIETY ZER0/10 - GOD AWFUL Writing, BORING, not realistic, and unlikeable characters! We had high hopes, but it’s a complete let down. You know a show is bad when you’re watching kids fight cancer and you start rooting for the cancer.
SELFIE - 5/10 Seemed more like an indie film than a TV show. And the overuse of pop culture references annoyed us. John Cho is likable, but the lead actress, Karen Gillian, needs to speak louder and not so fast. It’s not funny when you can’t understand what she’s saying.
STALKER - 7/10 Not as bad as the title makes you think it will be. Badass female lead and interesting male lead. It’s another NCIS/CSI mystery type show, but it was pretty captivating.
Working for a few managers, I’ve written more script coverage than I ever want to. When you submit your script to a manager, it’s highly doubtful they will actually read the script. They first give it on to their interns. Usually a college kid who’s earning a college credit doing free work.
This intern will PASS, CONSIDER, or RECOMMEND your screenplay. 95% of screenplays submitted are passed (meaning they will NEVER be looked at ever again by anyone) because these scripts are horrible. I could go on an on about the outrageously bad scripts I’ve read for managers, but that’s another blog. Less than 1% of scripts submitted to managers/agents are Recommended.
These are the questions that inters answer when doing script coverage. If your script has any flaws, (meaning they don’t answer these questions correctly) it will NOT BE SEEN by the manager/agent. Before I submit a script to anyone important. I make sure my screenplays answers all these questions to get a RECOMMEND.
Is it clear whom the story is about? Who are rooting for?
Can you identify in some way with the main character? Are they likeable?
Are the characters believable?
Is their behavior consistent with human nature?
Is character revealed through what people do visually rather than what they say? (Film is a visual medium)
Does the main character change, grow, or develop? (they should)
Is the main character active or passive? (should be active)
Are the supporting characters good “foils” for the protagonist?
Are the hero and the antagonist evenly matched? (antagonist should be evenly matched or more powerful)
What’s at stake for the main character? What do they want?
Are major characters introduced too late?
STRUCTURE and STORY
Is the opening exciting?
Does the story “get rolling” quickly enough?
How is the exposition handled?
Is it a good story? Is it compelling? Is it involving?
Is the conflict, and what the story is about clear in the first few pages?
Does it flow? Or are the scenes choppy or confusing?
Does the script have strong narrative drive? Or does it ramble?
Does the story develop or unfold in an interesting way?
Are the scene transitions smooth or visually interesting?
Does the second act sustain your interest?
Do the climax pay off on the promise of the beginning?
Does the structure feel balanced, or is something out of place?
Is the ending satisfying? Or does it leave you with that “so what” feeling?
Does the antagonist get their comeuppance? Does the punishment fit the crime?
Does the writer “follow through” on all his story lines? Do minor characters work out their problems?
Is there strong conflict?
Will the main idea of the film “grab” an audience? Is there a “hook”?
Are there elements on which to build an advertising campaign?
Is the concept unique?
Is it easily explained in a few words? Is it pitchable?
Is there a clear theme? What is this movie about?
Are there other films with similar themes that can be used for comparison?
Does it sound the way people really talk?
Is dialogue consistent? Do people stay “in character?”
Do all the characters sound the same? (They shouldn’t)
Is the dialogue appropriate to the period of the film?
If it’s a comedy, is it funny?
Does the dialogue “track well?”
Is the script too “stagey” or too “talky,” relying too much on dialogue and not enough on visuals?
Are the speeches relatively short and easy for actor to memorize?
Would the production be expensive?
Are there any special sequences that would drive up the budget or that could be trimmed to save money?
Would “star” actors or other talent be requested to make the project work? (Would it work only in the hands of certain directors, for example?)
What other films does this reflect in terms of potential budget?
Do casting suggestion come to mind? Sometimes the writer will make casting suggestion in the script? Are they appropriate?
Would casting present any special problems or challenge?
Are there too many characters for the size of the story?
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you ran the studio and could only make ten movies a year, would this be one of the them?
Would you see this movie or recommend it to a friend?
Who is the intended audience for this film? Is that audience large enough to justify the cost of the picture? (A film must make three or four times its production cost to show a profit?)
Does the script work “on its own terms”? It may be exploitive horror movie, but is it a GOOD exploitive horror movie? If it’s a comedy, is it funny?
Is it an appropriate for the studio you work for? Is it what your employees are looking for?
Is the idea timely? Does it relate to something currently in the public awareness? Is the timing right for this movie?
How to Focus On Writing and Stop Being a Lazy Cow
A friend recently sent me an e-mail asking “How do I sit down and write? I’ve been trying to write my script for years and all I have so far is 15 pages. Whenever I sit down I get distracted and do something else.”
10 Tips to stop being distracted and JUST WRITE!
1) TURN OFF THE INTERNET
Make the internet a reward instead of a distraction. Make yourself WRITE BEFORE YOU GO ONLINE. If you’re an addict of facebook, promise yourself you can’t look at FB til you get X amount of pages done. Once you get on Facebook, you often forget why you even went on facebok in the fist place, you creeper. And if you need the internet for research, put a time limit on it when you start writing and then TURN IT OFF!
2) PUT YOUR MIND IN JAIL
Don’t literally commit a crime, but put your mind in jail. This means know that you have nowhere to go and nothing to do except the task in front of you. By telling yourself “I’m in Jail,” you can’t have access to the outside world, just you and those words you’re going to write.
3) THE 5 MINUTE RULE/WRITING EVERY DAY
At my last day job, I worked 60 hours a week and when I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was work more, so I did the 5 Minute Rule. JUST PROMISE TO WRITE 5 MINUTES A DAY. 5 Minutes is nothing, but you never know what will spark in 5 minutes. There’s often times 5 minutes becomes 15 minutes, 20 minutes, or even an hour if inspiration hits. This will also keep your project in your subconscious everyday.
4) WRITE AS SOON AS YOU WAKE UP
Put your laptop or notebook next to your bed. Then have the first thing you do before you even get out of bed is WRITE. Even if you have to pee, tell yourself you won’t pee until you write that scene, idea, or joke.
5) STOP FINDING EXCUSES
I have many friends who moved to L.A. to become screenwriters, yet when I ask “What are you working on now?” It’s the exact same thing they had A YEAR AGO! They make excuses as to why they haven’t written anything in months. If you want to make money writing. You have to TREAT WRITING LIKE YOUR JOB.
6) WRITE FOR THE WASTE BASKET
Ever sit down to think “Today, I’m going to write a masterpiece.” Only to find out you can’t write, because you can’t kill the critic in your head. Maybe you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to be good. The songwriter, Johnny Mercer used to “Write for the Waste Basket.” Without feeling that pressure of being great, he wrote crap, but after rewriting, that crap became gold records. In his career, he won four academy awards for Best Original Song. Judd Apatow works like this too. He calls his first draft the vomit pass, because it’s incredibly bad. But a vomit pass is better than no draft at all.
7) STOP BEING A PARTY ANIMAL
Let’s face it, we all love to get drunk with our friends, but sometimes you have to blow off your friends to focus on you. Being a social butterfly isn’t going to get your pages done. And if you still want to drink, drink when you write, just don’t fall asleep or become an alcoholic.
8) JOIN A WRITING GROUP or CLASS
Nothing makes me work harder than having my work being judged by my peers. Especially those who have more experience than I do. Having a class or discussion about your script can do wonders and give you new ideas. Plus classes and groups give you deadlines, which come to my next point.
9) HAVE A DEADLINE
If you have a Writing Contest, class, or have to present the script to a producer, you genuinely get your ass writing. Deadlines help immensely.
10) MAKE A (REALISTIC) GOAL LIST AND STICK TO IT
My grandma told me that everyday she writes a big list of things to do, and she’s lucky if she gets the first 5 things done on that list, but she’s still proud of those 5 things. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to do a lot, if you know you’re not going to do that. Big lists become overwhelming. Instead make your list of accomplishments smaller, and be proud of those accomplishments…and then go get drunk.
Grand prize winner of the 2013 Screenplay Search Contest and nominated for the WGA Michael Collyer Fellowshop. Jordan is a produced TV and Film screenwriter.