Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Insecure Pilot Blueprint: Conflict & Series Setup

Issa Rae

Lesson time 09:25 min

Issa continues her breakdown of the Insecure pilot so you can learn how to construct conflict and set up the rest of your series.

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Topics include: Setting Up the Rest of Your Series


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Conflict is riveting. What-- why are you watching something if everything's just lily and everybody's doing the right thing and everything's going according to plan. I think any good story you have to have tension, you have to have conflict, and you have to have stakes. Who's the antagonist? What's the antagonist? What is the character up against? That's at the core of conflict. Even if it's an ensemble, you're thinking about one person that either reflects you and what you think and that inadvertently become the main character, even in an ensemble. But they have to complement each other in ways that either build conflict, in ways where they can work together against something. I think groups of people are attracted to each other for a reason and you have to mind that. You have to figure out why they're together in the first place. Are they together because they're all millennials? Are they together because they are part of a sex cult? Are they together like-- you have to figure that out yourself and then create the situations around them to mine as much conflict as possible. Again, whenever I hear the pitch about, like, "yeah, and we're a group of friends, and we go out, and we're in our 20s," it's like, OK, but what is the anchor of the story? What is driving it? What's driving the conflict? Where's the tension. It has to be more than that. One of the biggest misconceptions is just having conflict in one place or leading up to conflict. And I think you have to be setting up these tensions all along. And so early on in the pilot, we set up that Issa and Lawrence have a lot of tension in their relationship. And, right now, it seems very one-sided. In one of the scenes you watch Issa attempt to break up with Lawrence, and be done with him, and that feels like news to him. And so, obviously, that's something that we're going to follow throughout the series and it doesn't get resolved in this episode, but it's set up. There are other moments with Issa at her job and expressing her frustrations there. And what you don't know in this pilot is that people are filming the "Broken Pussy" rap on stage and that might have consequences later. There are little things in the pilot, there are little nuggets that you're setting up as conflict within the episode in the pilot but also throughout the season and, potentially, the series. In this scene, Molly and Issa have just come from a night out and Molly figures out that Issa, not only invited her to go see an old flame, but Issa has also humiliated her on stage with this "Broken Pussy" rap. And so tensions are on high, and they really start to unload on each other in the car. And with this scene I really wanted to set up that this series is about these two girls' relationship. It's about their friendship and we're going to be watching their dynamic play out. And it really sets up the issues that they have with one another. And it showcases how they're able-- how they argue and...

About the Instructor

The Emmy-nominated star and creator of the award-winning HBO series Insecure is here to show you how it’s done. Issa Rae uses her signature do-it-yourself ethos, humor, and voice to offer writers and creators of all types the motivation and tools they’ll need on their journey. Issa shares how she has navigated Hollywood while Black and inspires you to reach your creative dreams and never take no for an answer.

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Issa Rae

Emmy-nominated writer, actor, and producer Issa Rae teaches you how to bring your creative vision to life.

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