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Charley Temple is captured by local Nazi thugs, after she inadvisedly breaks into a secret high security laboratory



KIDNAPPED - Charley Temple's curiosity gets the better of her. She is captured, having rather recklessly broken into a high security laboratory complex.  Copyright illustration, Cleaner Ocean Foundation © July 2022. All rights reserved.





Elizabeth Swann cruising upriver, to Manuas, the Amazon river is alive.



AMAZON QUEEN - The Elizabeth Swann glides up the famous South American river, John and Dan at the helm, enjoying the exotic jungle scenery, scanning the riverbed topography, and logging the wildlife - as she goes.  Copyright picture, Cleaner Ocean Foundation © August 2022. All rights reserved.





Pilot and follow on series, adaptation. We can adapt our 'Cleopatra' story, or movie script to a TV series for you. Please contact the Cleaner Ocean Foundation Limited for a copy of the movie script.





Cleopatra Queen of Egypt, takes her life with a poison asp.



SUICIDE - The Queen of Egypt takes her own life with a poison asp, having lost the Battle of Actium, her lover Marc Antony, and fearing the worst from Octavian, the first Roman Emperor. Copyright illustration, Cleaner Ocean Foundation © July 2022. All rights reserved.







Many writers will tell you that today, it’s all about television: network, cable, and mostly streaming. But if you have feature film spec, does that mean you have start from scratch? Not really. You can rework a movie screenplay into a dramatic TV pilot and follow on episodes. When doing so, here are some pointers to keep in mind.

1. Characters in perpetual conflict

Assuming that feature movies are fairy tales, with a Beginning, Middle and End. TV shows, are soap operas* with a beginning and a middle, and a middle and more middle. Resolution may only come when the show is going off the air.


Consider how many characters you will feature. Typically 4 or 5 with a stronger ‘lead’ character seems to work. Pick a handful of shows and check for yourself what works.


Create characters that will constantly create their own conflict, even if just locked in a room together. Take a look at Family Guy for example: a slob dad, an uptight mum, a scheming baby, and an intellectual dog. Put any two of those in a room together and they would be arguing in 5 minutes, just because their personalities are so different. Conflict is key, both for drama and comedy – and having characters that generate it automatically, rather than relying on outside ‘plot’ will be extremely helpful. 


In general, if you’re writing a returning series, especially a sitcom, your characters shouldn’t change, grow or arc – they need to be reset to their default position at the end of every episode. They may learn, but they don’t grow. There are obvious exceptions to this, but it’s a good rule of thumb.


EXAMPLE: A show like Game of Thrones is a good example. Yes, it is fantasy and the dragons are amazing. Yes, it’s action and there are brutal battles with magical weapons, but at the end of the day, we all want to know if Daenerys is going to end up with Jon Snow. The more conflict you can bestow onto your characters, the better. Cersei and Jamie Lannister aren’t just lovers, they are brother and sister, adding that extra layer of conflict. Tyrion isn’t just the black sheep of the family, he’s also a dwarf, adding more conflict. In TV, conflict is king.

2. Decompress your timeline

In a movie screenplay, we often have to compress a lot of story into a two-hour feast. For a TV show, you get eight to twelve (8-12) hours for a series (more if on a major network that goes into multiple seasons) to tell your story, so you’ll need to really parcel out the story in bites. Focus on your first act of the feature screenplay. Find the conflict and add another layer. This will leave you with a feeling that little is happening in your pilot as compared to your feature screenplay; but that is the point. Your pilot only needs set up a world where a larger story can take place over many hours.

3. Make it binge-able

It’s imperative that there’s a hook in the final scene of your pilot to make sure your audience is desperate to watch the next episode. Every network, from Hulu to ABC, is looking for the next show people want to binge on.

4. Create a teaser

A teaser is two to three pages that will introduce the reader/viewer into the world of your pilot. It will tease the main conflict of the show. This will also need to have a hook to ensure the viewer will want to keep watching.

5. Put it into four, five or six acts

Even if you are writing a show you know will only work on cable or for a streaming service like Netflix, put it into acts. This will help both you and your reader navigate where they are in the story. Find the pilot script from a show you like that is similar in tone to the one you are writing (there are several websites dedicated to sharing screenplays & teleplays. And check out Reddit).


Six acts seems to be popular nowadays but the standard four still works. Though better with six.

6. Create a show bible

Every studio or producer will expect this. The bible summarizes the story you envision for the next eight to twelve episodes (two short series). Use an active voice as you write the summary for each upcoming episode, and don’t make them too long. One paragraph for each episode works. Also include character bios and a summary of the major story arc for the season.


Think of this as your sales pitch and include why people will want to watch the show (e.g. it’s a untold story, or it’s groundbreaking in some way, or it sheds light on something happening in society today).


Even if you’re only writing one or two episodes on spec, create a series bible that contains the bigger picture. Character bios, episode outlines for the whole series, maybe some background, notes on the setting etc. Keep it snappy and interesting though – the word ‘bible’ can be misleading – think of it more as a pitch document.



7. Which network?


How a TV script is structured depends largely on which TV network you target. For example, most networks run commercials, so the script must be pretty rigidly structured to accommodate the commercial breaks. America has twice adverts, over UK television. So a script aimed at UK TV would need to be structured differently, with half as many breaks). Generally, the end of each Act has to coincide precisely with each subsequent commercial break.


So a fair bit of homework to do before you actually start writing the script. You need to decide where you might get a break. Geographical location may play a part here.

In the UK, the BBC and Netflix don't run commercials. If you were targeting these networks, the script would need to be structured differently again - no breaks for advertising. But still a regular timetable.

Some American TV networks accept 90-minute pilots. Meaning, you could use a 90-minute film script, and double up as a TV pilot, with Cleopatra The Mummy, becoming the first of many adventures. Where John and Cleopatra, never quite tie the knot, but always hinting at.
EXAMPLE: X-Files, Mulder and Scully.

8. Page count

Typically, 55 to 65 pages is good for a regular dramatic pilot. Best not to go over 65 or under 55. Aim for 60.



9. Dialogue Comes Last

Snappy dialogue is the hallmark of much good telly, but it shouldn’t be your focus, even in sitcoms. Good structure, good plotting and good characters should make the dialogue easy to write – so focus on those first.



10. Use ABC plotting

Your 'A' plot is the main storyline, your 'B' plot the secondary storyline, and your 'C' plot (if used), the tertiary. Use a roughly 60/30/10 split. Giving characters goals is a great way of generating these plots. Make them want to achieve things. This should keep them moving, and bring them into conflict with other characters - when they want different things, or both want the same thing but only one of them can have it.



11. Ad Breaks are Act Breaks

If you’re writing for a broadcaster who advertises, your act breaks will come at the ad breaks. These all need to be cliffhangers (N.B. there are different types of cliffhanger). If you’re going to show without adverts, then you need to figure out your own act breaks. Typically there are 4 acts in television.


Do as much research into formatting as possible. It can vary quite widely and you need to match it to the preferred style of whomever you are submitting to.



12. Know your Audience(s)


You need to have a specific audience in mind – a good way to research this is paying attention to the target market of adverts played during similar shows. You also need to have an idea when you see your show airing and what content is suitable for that time. Research the watershed rules. Finally, you need to know who broadcasts shows like this: BBC 1 and BBC 3 are very different, let alone Channel 4, Sky, and of course all the independent production companies. Do your research.





Much as we'd like to think so, there is no perfect formula. The 'go-to formula' for series success is attaching well-known actors, having a skilled writer deliver a spectacular pilot, and then have a prime slot in TV schedules.

The BBC drama "Years And Years" struggled in the ratings despite having that “perfect formula.” It was critically acclaimed, written by former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T Davies, starred Emma Thompson, and was broadcast in a prime BBC One slot. Yet it still faltered. This is an object lesson. One wonders about the director and editing. Maybe!





Years ago, executives would advise you not to make things too complicated, not to have too much serial story, because the audience wouldn’t remember what had happened last week.

Whereas today, the streaming services have driven the mass consumption of this kind of technology.

Procedurals are still a hot commodity for network television, but the industry is changing as the technology advances.

Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime — as well as many other current and future streaming channels — offer audiences the ability to binge and revisit previous episodes and seasons. It’s no longer essential to keep things simple for an audience.

So don’t follow any of the old television series writing advice. Make your narratives have depth in story and character arcs.





Don’t Be Afraid of Feedback, Seek It. Screenwriters have got to be able to not only accept feedback — but seek it.

Feedback is scary but necessary. And you don’t have to hold every piece of feedback and advice up as the be all end all. Seek it out, consider everything, and take only what you feel works for your vision of the story. The quality of the feedback depends on the point of view of the person giving it. Thus, feedback is better when it is spread over a wider spectrum of the potential viewing audience.



* A soap opera is a television series designed to slot in commercial breaks. Hence, "soaps" have become a powerful advertising medium.





The Baron Richthofen and his clever scientists rencarnate Cleopatra from the dead



REPLICATION - More than a simple cloning operation. Cleopatra is replicated from her DNA, recovered by Safiya Sabuka and Musa Bomani, Egyptologists, gone over to the dark side, in frustration at being passed over, by less able archaeologists. Copyright picture, Cleaner Ocean Foundation © July 2022. All rights reserved.




Cleopatra - The Mummy - A John Storm adventure with the Elizabeth Swann


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