Program Development for Entertainment Media

Program Development for Entertainment Media
TVR/CNPH 32700
Tentative Syllabus
Instructor: Steve Gordon
Telephone: 274-5130
Class Schedule: Mon-Wed 1-2:40;
Office Hours:
T, Th, 9:30-10:30AM; W 3-4PM
E-Mail: [email protected]
Classroom: Park 228
Office: Park 373
Website: Sakai
Course Description:
The course will provide an overview of the process of development and production of original
concepts, true events and novels for features, television movies, series and internet distribution.
Analysis of creative properties and case studies will exemplify the most effective means for
producers, writers, directors and programmers to develop concepts for the theatrical and television
marketplace. An examination of feature film, and television industry structure and function will also
be utilized as a resource for students seeking employment in the entertainment industry.
Course Goals:
Course objective is to prepare students for more advanced training in areas including: producing
and programming for film and television; scriptwriting; film and television production;
business/entertainment law; and other related careers in the media field.
Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Understand and execute the process of developing a concept through production for film,
television and new media.
2. Understand and execute the role of the producer/executive in the production and post-production
process including budgeting, funding, legal concerns and marketing of the project.
3. Utilize a basic understanding of story structure and how to evaluate concepts and
written works for the marketplace.
4. Understand the basic qualities and experience needed for potential employment in the
entertainment industry.
Recommended Textbook and other Reading Material:
Hollywood 101, the Film Industry
By Fredrick Levy
St. Martin’s Griffin, New York
Other suggested sources:
The Business of Media Distribution: Monitizing Film, TV and Video Content in an Online World
By Jeff Ulin
Focal Press
Adventures in the Screen Trade
By William Goldman
Warner Books
Created By…
Inside the Minds of TV’s Top Show Creators
By Steven Prigge
Silman-James Press
This Business of Television
By Howard Blumenthal & Oliver Goodenough
Billboard Books
Grading Procedures and Changes to Syllabus and schedule
The professor reserves the right to modify or change any of these requirements and give sufficient
notice to students as to the specified changes. If any expected unit of this course or assignment
cannot be fulfilled or an additional assignment is added, the grading weight will shift accordingly.
Breakdown for Grading
Class Participation
Weekly Writing/Research Assignments/Quizzes 20%
Midterm: Coverage
Digital Project Development/Marketing
Option Agreement
Forum Discussion
Final: Develop a project
Grading Scale
A (>94)
A- (>90)
B+ (>88)
B (>84)
B- (>80)
C+ (>77)
C (>74)
C- (>70)
D+ (>66)
D (>64)
D- (>60)
Details of weekly assignments will be reviewed in class with sufficient notice to organize and
complete the assignment. Assignments subject to change.
Class participation:
Students will be graded according to the number of in-class contributions and the quality of those
contributions. Attendance and punctuality will also be considered. Active participation does not
imply domination of an exchange and students are expected to be courteous and sensitive in their
comments to fellow students and the instructor. Attendance at one or more films, seminars, or film
festival events may be required over the course of the semester. There will be guest speakers for
this course (in-person and Skype) which will require you to research their backgrounds and come
prepared with good questions.
Weekly Writing/Research Exercises:
Reading’s synopsis or research exercises will be assigned over the course of the semester and
students will demonstrate a proficiency in synopsizing text chapters and other course readings.
Weekly assignments will also include a ”one minute pitch”; a short synopsis of a television series
and a “packaging exercise”. Note: Weekly assignments are worth 10-20 points each.
Primary Assignments:
Mid Term Coverage Assignment
Students will complete a minimum 2-page coverage (analysis) on an assigned script.
Option/Agreement Assignment
Students will do a basic option agreement for their “own” screenplay or series idea.
Digital Development
Students in teams will develop, pitch and write a treatment for a digital entertainment project.
Sakai Forums:
Each student will be required to participate in one or more forum discussions on the course website.
The discussions will involve analyzing scripted material or film assigned for viewing. Participation
consists of initial posts and replies to your classmates, with thoughtful content and meaningful
discussion. A grading rubric for participation in forum discussion activity will be presented on the
course website
Final Project:
In teams, students will create and develop an idea for either: a television, web series or feature film.
The project will consist of a “pitch” which will be presented in two parts:
A. A self-contained, professional-quality 3 minute digital piece which may be presented to
appropriate networks or theatrical agents for consideration and review.
A team of three professors will select up to 2 (out of 5-6) of the best presentations to be presented to
the appropriate media outlet(s), including:
NBC Television Network (comedy)
CBS Television Network (drama)
BBC North America Network (comedy, drama or non-fiction)
Theatrical Agent (Film Project)
ABC Family Channel
Nickelodeon Digital Networks
Representatives of the networks above will provide written feedback on selected projects. Note:
This feedback will not effect your grade, the feedback will be forwarded to you during the summer.
B. An oral presentation to the class; a written synopsis of the project including character
descriptions and a “marketing plan” which should include a packaging and advertising plan for your
An assignment sheet including a grading rubric will be handed out when the project is assigned.
Course Policies:
Course Attendance
Class attendance is required of all students. Three or more unexcused absences are considered
excessive and will result in a lower grade for the course. Students will be penalized one-half of a
letter grade per class hour missed for each unexcused absence over two.
Students are expected to be punctual, to be prepared and to participate in class discussions and
activities. Students who are late for class more than three times will lose 20% of their
“participation” grade for each occurrence.
Absences that result from participation in approved College activities, documented medical
emergencies, death of immediate family members, and other such incidents as determined by the
professor on a case-by-case basis, shall be considered excused absences. All other absences will
be deemed unexcused absences. The professor may require from the student to establish that an
absence is an excused absence including a doctor’s note. Any student, who misses class due to a
verifiable family or individual health emergency, may report the absence to the Office of
Student Affairs and Campus Life, which will notify the student’s dean’s office, as well as
residential life if the student lives on campus. The dean’s office will disseminate the information
to the appropriate faculty. Follow-up by the student with his or her professors is imperative.
Examples of unexcused absences include, but are not limited to: a) illnesses that are not life
threatening or contagious; b) transportation problems (e.g., bad weather, congested traffic,
mechanical problems with a vehicle, etc.); c) leaving early for vacation periods (e.g., Fall,
Thanksgiving, Winter or Spring Breaks); d) absences resulting from the appearance at court
proceedings and to take care of administrative matters (e.g., registering your vehicle or
renewing a license); or e) the death or injury of a friend or relative who is not an immediate
family member. In accordance with New York State law, students who miss class due to their
religious beliefs shall be excused from class or examinations on that day. Such students must
notify their course instructors at least one week before any anticipated absence so that proper
arrangements may be made to make up any missed work or examination without penalty.
Faculty will not schedule examinations or quizzes on designated religious holidays on the
calendar day following the designated holidays. Designated holidays are Rosh Hashanah (2
days), Yom Kippur, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.
Falsifying the reason for an absence to make an unexcused absence appear to be an unexcused
absence shall be considered a form of academic dishonesty and dealt with as described below.
Students who are absent are required to learn what they missed from their classmates rather than
the instructor.
Students who are absent when scheduled for an in-class presentation will receive a 0 for their
required presentation and/or peer evaluation, unless excused.
Students are responsible for making arrangements in advance with the professor to make up
their work missed by their excused absence.
Students participating in an official campus activity that conflicts with class meetings, activities
or due dates of assignments are responsible for informing the professor via phone or by e-mail
and by obtaining permission for an excused absence in advance. Job or internship interviews
may be classified as an excused absence if approved by the professor in advance.
Sakai Forums
Participation in Sakai Forum will be required and graded. Failure to participate or complete
discussion contribution within deadlines will possibly result in a lower grade.
Circumstances that prevent students from fulfilling course expectations will be handled by the
professor on a case-by-case basis.
Talking During lectures
Talking during lectures or when fellow students are contributing will not be tolerated.
Beginning with the fourth time you will be notified by email that you will be losing one third of
your participation grade for each infraction thereafter.
Laptop/Personal Communication Devices
Cell phone talk or texting, PDA, Laptop use is not permitted in class unless you are asked to do
so by the instructor or by written accommodation. The student will be verbally warned and if the
practice continues, the student will be warned by email, and will lose 20% of their participation
grade for each occurrence after three.
Note: If abuse of this rule continues, student may lose additional grade points, or, be asked to
leave the class.
Important note: You will hear personal anecdotes and stories, sometimes of a “sensitive” nature,
from the instructor and guest speakers in this class and you should not Tweet or repeat these
comments in any form of social media unless the speaker agrees that the comments or talk is “on
Assignment Deadlines & Requirements:
All assignments are to be professional in appearance: typed, double-spaced, stapled, with page
numbers, headings and in proper screenplay form when required.
The student is responsible for the secure delivery of all assignments to the professor by the due
INSTRUCTED. Assignments handed in late (after the online-deadline has passed) will
receive a reduction of one-half letter grade up to the end of the first day late and one letter
grade for every day thereafter. After 4 consecutive days, the assignment will receive a “zero”.
Any assignment delivered by email, will automatically receive a half-grade deduction; all other
late terms then apply.
Students participating in official campus activities need to heed the following. During the first
several class sessions, students are given the opportunity to share names and contact information
with classmates who can be relied upon to hand in assignments in the event you are unable to
make it to class the day the assignment is due. It is suggested that you share contact information
with at least three classmates. You should not select classmates that are participating in the
same extracurricular activities as you.
All assignments will be returned. If you do not receive an assignment back, it means it is
unaccounted for and will receive a “zero”.
Academic Integrity Statement:
The College is an academic community, which values academic integrity and takes seriously its
responsibility for upholding academic honesty. All members of the academic community have an
obligation to uphold high intellectual and ethical standards. All forms of dishonesty including
cheating and plagiarism are unacceptable. Failure to appropriately cite material used in a paper is
plagiarism. The minimum penalty for cheating or plagiarism is a zero for the test or paper in
question. Referral to college judiciaries is also possible. For more information on academic integrity
and academic dishonesty, please refer to the Student Handbook, the College Catalog and the Code
of Student Conduct and Related Policies or ask your instructor.
In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with
Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented
disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with Student Disability Services and
provide appropriate documentation to Ithaca College before any academic adjustment will be
You must respond to and report conditions and actions that may jeopardize your safety, or that of
other people and/or equipment. Report to the responsible College employee. During class sessions
that person would be your instructor or lab assistant. Outside of class the person might be your
instructor, lab supervisor, co-curricular manager, equipment and facilities manager, or one of the
engineering support staff. You must be aware that misuse of equipment or use of damaged
equipment can create the risk of serious injury, infectious contamination, and expensive damage.
You may be liable for damage or injury resulting from such use. Unsupervised use of facilities puts
students unnecessarily at risk.
Spring 2014
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Class Introduction
Hollywood Roadmap
Buyers, Sellers and Storytellers
101 Writers
2 People Walk Out of A
Developing Concepts:
Sources and Evaluating ideas
Story Development: Elements of Structure
Skype: Jonathan Frakes
Making the Deal
Business Affairs
101 – Directors
101 – Producers
Business: Programming
Skype: David Lavin
Option Agreement
Ratings – Series Types
Film Synopsis
“Digital prodcution” Teams
Skype: Paul Bernbaum
Week 5
Week 6
Role of the producer/Development Executive in
Selling the Concept, Pitching and Writing the
Skype: Pamela Soper
Introduction to coverage
Intro to final Project
Coverage exercise
Week 7
Script Analysis
Skype: TBA
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Team Pitch – Digital Project
Forum: Final Project
2 minute Pitch
Midterm: Coverage Due
Buying Books and True Life Stories
For Features and Television
Writing Treatments
Working with Talent and Literary Agents and
Skype: Jack Tantleff
Distribution: Traditional vs. Digital
Anissa Ayala Script
Roy Cohn Story Notes
Treatment Assignment Due
Marketing Plan
Week 12
Non-fiction Television
Marketing and the producers role
Skype: Stuart Schrieberg
Week 13
Week 14
Non Fiction Television continued
Skype-Paul Lewis, Scripps Network
Opportunities for Digital Production and
Skype: Josh Feldman
Week 15
Being an Entrepreneurial Producer
Putting Yourself Ahead of the Crowd
Professional Organizations
Skype: Callie Tresser
Reality Team Project
Reading - TBA
Reading TBA
Distribution/Social Media
Resume, Cover letter
Week 16
Week 16
Speakers will be scheduled from the following group:
Jonathan Frakes
Hollywood Director/Actor – “William T. Riker, Star Trek; Director: N.C.I.S., Burn Notice
Paul Bernbaum
Feature Film Writer
Perry Simon
General Manager, BBC North America
Pamela Soper
Senior Vice President, Current Programs, CBS Network
Beth Klein
Vice President Talent and Casting
NBC Universal Production Group
Matt Hinerfeld
Senior Producer, Nickelodeon Digital Entertainment
Jack Tantleff
Head of Theatre Lit, Paradigm Agency, New York
Nick Rhigi
Production coordinator, reality Television
Wendy Luckenbill
Vice President, Publicity, NBC Television Network
Andy Schnieder and Diane Frolov
Supervising producers, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Alien Nation