Author: Neil Landau

Neil Landau

Neil Landau is a bestselling author, producer and award winning screenwriter who runs the Writing for Television program in the UCLA Department of Film, Television and Digital Media (his alma mater). Credits include Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead; Melrose Place, The Magnificent Seven, Doogie Howser, M.D., The Secret World of Alex Mack, Twice in a Lifetime, MTV's Undressed, and one-hour drama pilots for CBS, ABC, ABC Family, Warner Bros., Disney, Lifetime, and Fremantle. Neil has also served as Executive Script Consultant for Sony Pictures Television and Columbia Pictures. His animated movie projects include the Tad: The Lost Explorer, which earned him a Spanish Academy "Goya" Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; Capture the Flag for Paramount; and Sheep & Wolves for Wizart Animation. He’s the author of the bestselling 101 Things I Learned in Film School; The Screenwriter’s Roadmap, and The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap.


Posts by Neil Landau:

TV Outside the Box


Excerpt from an interview with TOM FONTANA: The Man in the HAZMAT Suit The original trailblazer, Tom Fontana has spent much of his extraordinary 30-year career writing about crime and punishment. Accordingly, I’d be committing a felony by not starting the story of the digital television revolution with him. Not only did he create, write, and produce Oz, the…

Photo by Rob and Stephanie Levy

The Successful Showrunner Checklist


*Remarks quoted are excerpts from the showrunner roundtable discussions sponsored by Variety and Hollywood Reporter (2013). According to my informal showrunner poll, the following are the most essential qualities and skills for the successful management of a scripted, episodic TV series: Staying on time and on budget: According to veteran showrunner, Jeff Melvoin (Early Edition,…

Photo by Loren Kerns

It’s All in the Family


Defining Character by Familial Role Family dynamics are especially useful when assembling an ensemble cast. It’s not that you’ll need to cover every gender, age, or familial role. But it is helpful to determine how each character might relate to one another in both positive and negative ways. Police detective partners, even if both heterosexual…

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Pitching Guidelines for Original TV Series


Here are my guidelines for preparing and delivering a great pitch for an original series. Every pitch needs to be customized, so these guidelines are not rigid and do not have to be in this precise order. In fact, depending on genre and format, some of these rules may not apply. 1. Your pitch presentation…

Photo by Ewen Roberts

An Interview with Damon Lindelof


David Lindelof Credits Star Trek Into Darkness (feature) (Producer/Writer) 2013 Prometheus (feature) (Executive Producer/Writer) 2012 Cowboys & Aliens (feature) (Writer) 2011 Lost (Executive Producer/Writer/Co-Creator) 2004–2010 Emmy Award Winner (Outstanding Drama Series) 2005 Emmy Nominated (Outstanding Drama Series) 2008–2010 Emmy Nominated (Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series) 2005– 2007, 2009–2010 WGA Award Winner (Dramatic Series) 2006…

Plunge your protagonist into crisis at the end of act one.

Plunge Your Protagonist Into Crisis At The End of Act One


This crisis point will effectively ensnare your protagonist in a literal or figurative “trap” that compels him/her into action – and often quite reluctantly. Think of this active goal as “Plan A” – which needs to be an urgent, challenging quest.  And, the more difficult it is to accomplish this challenge, the better.  Ideally, Plan…

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