What New Producers & Creators Need To Know About Pitching TV Show Ideas

 

Idea BulbA TV series does not come into existence without it first being an “idea” that is compelling enough to drive the entire development, production and marketing process. This article helps new writers and producers understand how to pitch a TV show idea that can sell to production companies.

Ideas open doors, fuel the development process, and ultimately connect with viewers. It is that core concept or “idea” a new writer or producer pitches that inspires a production company to dedicate resources for developing it. When that idea moves to the network or studio level, often with a “proof of concept” pitch reel produced, it is still that core “idea” that drives the project’s potential as development executives must communicate compelling details efficiently with their bosses, and so on up the ladder. Ideas are the life blood of our industry.

“…It’s all about the beginning of the process, the idea stage.” – Rod Perth, CEO NATPE (National Association Television Program Executives).

It is indisputable that ideas sell. That’s why services like the TV Writers Vault deliver such an important piece of the puzzle for our industry. Having a marketplace where ordinary people with extraordinary ideas can have their pitches scouted by a large number of industry buyers is the direct connection that both the creator and the industry needs. Because for both sides, it takes A LOT of projects to find those few gems that can go the distance.

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing new talent, some who’ve never pitched before in their life, come face-to-face with top decision makers in film and television for a true shot at getting their big break. I’ve been on both sides of the table, and love the entire process. So how does an “idea” get you a deal, and ultimately a show produced? To understand that, you need to understand that there are different stages and levels a new creator can become part of the project produced.

Write your original idea for your show detailing the unique story or format we’re following. Each genre has its own fundamentals.  Reality TV Show concepts have critical elements like casting, or access to a unique world, lifestyle, or business. Game shows are very clever in format. TV Drama Series are all about the character’s plight within the world they inhabit. But what producers reading the pitch need to understand in any pitch for any genre, is what we’re potentially watching unfold. “What are we actually watching?” is the question both creators and producers face when the network executive polarizes a pitch. They’re experts in “seeing” the show you’re describing. So don’t sell them. Tell them! You can find some great insight on writing reality TV pitches at “Creating Reality TV Ideas” and “Creating & Pitching TV Show Ideas That Sell“.

If you’re writing a TV Pilot Script, be sure to check out the TV Writers Vault Guide forHow To Pitch & Sell Scripted TV Series Ideas & Pilot Scripts“.

film productionWhen your pitch connects with a producer and they want to commit their resources to develop and sell your show to a Network, they first must secure your project with an Option Agreement so they have the exclusive right to sell and produce the show. In such a deal you’re giving the production company a limited time period of exclusive rights, typically 12 months. During that time they may shoot a sizzle reel or “proof of concept” tape to present to networks. If they have close ties with executives at networks that are ideal for your project, they’ll most often “pre pitch” the show to see if there’s any preliminary interest. Then if they do have interest at a Studio or Network, they may get financial backing from the network to produce a pilot. Cable Networks operate in a very fast process, and often order to shows quickly to series if they believe in it. Another benefit of pitching shows for cable is that they’ll often order in bulk if the first run gets good ratings. 40-50 episodes a year is common for a hit cable reality series. As a creator and producer, even in a passive capacity if you’re new to the game, there’s a tremendous amount of financial reward if a series gains momentum. You can expect on-screen credit, per episode fees, and participation in licensing.

To find that opportunity, its important to understand that every idea for a reality show has its own potential. You can’t make a mediocre concept great. It must have the right combination of compelling factors that together deliver a story and show that draws viewers in. If you believe you have a concept that is unique, even if you believe its a “no brainer, slam-dunk, next Gold Rush”, you still must market your project to a variety of producers and executives to find the one right connection. The process can be very subjective, and challenging.

Having a keen sensibility for what is entertaining will also increase the odds of crafting the right project that will connect. Even-so, its a numbers game in the way that the more pitches you work on, the better you’ll become at identifying, conceiving and honing a concept for a pitch. If you operate your own creative pursuits in the same manner that a production company does (having many projects on slate) then you’re in a better position to actually build a career because you’re developing many ideas and projects, finding the one(s) that connect, and getting offers from top tier companies who like what you bring to the table. The tangible “proprietary” element you bring in a pitch may be access to a certain world or subject. It may be the quirky business you operate and the process we can witness. It may be an ingenious game format you invent that is both hilarious to watch and stimulating to participate in. No matter the format, the love/hate relationship reality television has with both the industry and viewers still always boils down to one thing- Story. The biggest opportunity “Reality TV” has brought to the industry and creatives across the country, is that no subject is out of reach, and every person’s life experience has a story that is totally unique.

Hollywood is built on the power of “idea”, and television has been the most rapidly evolving platform for ideas to be produced through storytelling and formats.

Hollywood is a machine constantly on the search for new ideas to help reinvent itself and bring a fresh form of entertainment to viewers. If you think being an outsider of Hollywood makes it impossible to sell an idea that will be produced, I know first hand that’s not true. In my first year as a development executive at Merv Griffin Entertainment, I brought in a concept created by a journalist in Florida. The idea was written up in a one-page outline, and explored the simple idea- “How far will an ordinary person go to help a stranger in need?” Our producers immediately saw the potential for comedy and entertainment value. Merv signed the creator to an option deal, we took it out to networks the next day, pitched it as “Pay It Forward meets Candid Camera”, and the project was sold on our first pitch to Disney’s Buena Vista TV.

After one of the development meetings with Disney Execs Karen Glass and Holly Jacobs at our offices, I was walking them down the long hall leaving the Griffin Group offices and Holly asked, “So who came up with this idea?” So I told her, “Some guy in Florida”. She smiled and said,”I love when that happens“. That was the lightning bolt that convinced me the industry needed an online marketplace to connect “idea people” with buyer’s like Karen and Holly (formerly of Disney/Buena Vista). The TV Writers Vault was born shortly after, and I’ve spent the years educating new creatives on the process of creating and pitching. Seeing countless new writers and producers land deals, with many shows getting on air, I still always come back to the fundamentals. So lets dive in to a bit of nuts-n-bolts on crafting a pitch.

Craft A Clever Logline (The short pitch):  Whether you’re pitching casually at a coffee shop, in a room full of executives, or to a pitch panel at a film festival, you want to have a very clear Logline that communicates your core concept. A “Logline” is a one or two sentence description that tells the basic idea and purpose of a show. Loglines for the sake of pitching a project are similar to a TV Guide description, but more specific in describing the idea of the show. This is the catalyst for increasing the odds of selling any script or idea to Hollywood. Its the short pitch that boils your story or concept down to one or two sentences.

For film, a logline most often gives the unique premise (the set up) along with the main character’s extraordinary agenda. The same applies to television, except you may be dealing with a different genre like a reality docu-series where you’ll want to describe the unique world or subject we’d be covering, and the plight of the person(s) involved that we’re following. I’ve always known the logline to be the true test of a project’s potential. It really tests the writer to see if they know their project well, and more often than not, if you can’t create a strong logline, then the idea itself isn’t strong enough. The idea is the anchor for all that happens in the show. Its the reason for the rhyme.

A great logline should provoke interest and inspire the TV producer, and ultimately viewers, to see it’s potential. The following are examples of could-be loglines for popular television shows:

Ordinary people face their fears by competing against each other in outrageously devised stunts” – Fear Factor

A likeable husband’s marriage and tolerance is tested by the constant intrusion of his overbearing parents and dim-witted brother” – Everybody Loves Raymond

Twenty women will court and compete to win the affections of one man who will narrow the selection until he must decide on his one true love.” – The Bachelor

Contestants’ general knowledge will be tested when given the answers to questions they must then form.” – Jeopardy

Write A Snappy One-Sheet Synopsis: Executives need to have a clear road map for understanding what your show is, its core concept, and what we’re potentially watching as it unfolds. The written page is also the piece of Intellectual Property that establishes what you’re pitching, and what they’ve been exposed to. There is no way around it- You need to have a written pitch.

Writing Reality TV IdeaThe Synopsis written should carry us through the most interesting and critical moments in your show. Describe the premise, the circumstance, the progression of story in clear beats, with any key ultimatums or challenges faced. The craft of turning a clever phrase takes talent and time. But one of the most important aspects of writing a pitch synopsis is the skill of using efficiency. Can your page be condensed to a paragraph? Can your paragraph be communicated in one sentence? Executives and Producer do a ton of reading, and you don’t want them to get bogged down, but the real reason for writing efficiently is to carry the reader along briskly, so one moment fuels the next, and the next moment has evolved into something greater, and so on.

Make Strong Choices: Audiences arrive to watch movies and shows with a willing suspension of disbelief. They want to believe in your story, and connect with it. Its your opportunity as the Writer/Creator to make strong choices in any aspect of your story or concept. They want a heightened, or intensified reality, and there’s a few ways to get there when you’re developing your story. Create an ironic premise, but with a very plausible setup. This propels the story, giving the main characters a lot to work with. Give your main character a very unique challenge, and in their journey they encounter things that test their resolve, and sometimes change the course of their agenda, so ultimately we see them grow as a person. How that’s done is up to you, the creator.

Talent lies in the choices made by the artist, so make strong, unexpected, beautiful choices. It will resonate through every facet of your story, and connect with buyers hearing your pitch.

Get inspired. Look at your life and the world around you to find fresh and compelling stories and subjects. If you roll up your sleeves and dedicate yourself to the workHealth Fitness Articles, you just might sell the next groundbreaking idea for a Reality TV show to Hollywood.

To pitch your reality TV show idea, visit the TV Writers Vault marketplace for more insider advice and direct exposure to the television industry’s top buyers.

51 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing and educating so well. This has answered every question I had with regard to selling an idea for a new tv show. Your article is packed with everything a person needs to know to pursue their ideas or stories.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Scott- This article was very helpful. My name is Anthony Taylor my partner is Veronica Finnegan. We work with BET as consultaing producers of our hip hop game show call Hip Hopportunity. We worked very close with Rick Grimes, VP of 106 Park. We’re just trying to reach out to you and send you a one sheet on our TV game show idea.
        Best,
        Anthony/ Veronica

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      2. Hi Anthony-
        I love the title. The next challenge is to create a format that supports it, and delivers reliable entertainment value with each episode. That’s how you’ll make it ripe for syndication. The details of format is also where you’ll establish your copyright. If you’re feeling strong about the idea, and you work it out to a point of it being ready for market, the TV Writers Vault has a lot of producers who scout new ideas for TV game shows. We’re also promoting the first crowd sourcing contest set to discover the the Next Hit Game Show idea and format, and have senior executives from NBC Universal and others on panel to judge and consider the finalists. Best of luck to you!

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    1. This was an excellent blog/post! Straight and to the point. Thank you for posting as I am an emerging author with a series (three part novel) I am looking to pitch to Lifetime and Own.

      I am wondering if a membership to the Writers Vault would be feasible.

      Thanks again

      Kathy

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  2. Hi Scott-
    I love the anecdotes, and love even more what youve done for new producers and creators. My question is about pitching in the room to a buyer. Quick backstory; I wrote a pitch for a docu reality series centered on my family’s business, pitched it, had two producers interested, discussions with both, now one is following through and bringing me in for a meeting with their development team. They havent put across an option proposal yet. Whats my goal in the meeting, and what should I expect to accomplish so I can get an offer for the project?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amanda-

      Great job on pitching your docu reality series and getting two producers interested. I’m assuming your written pitch detailed a lot about the world you’re pitching (your family’s business) so they already understand much of what the show would focus on, but the next step is getting eyes on your world, and coverage of your family. Having you come in for a meeting is great. You should have confidence that their team has been briefed, but be prepared to walk them through the pitch again. Most likely the executive will have very specific questions and will want to get some coverage on tape of your family, which they’ve probably already asked you for. Its also an opportunity for them to get a feel for your personality- how you think and communicate. Bring in any media you can… video coverage of the business, locale, people involved, etc. And also be ready to get some of your family on a skype call. A TV producer will love experiencing the potential cast involved, and sharing stories about your family and the business is of course important, but really try to balance it with a forward focus by sharing specific events or challenges that are coming up, or that your family is in the middle of. Any producer in reality TV needs to know what they’ll be able to cover in the short run, as well as long term.

      As for the larger agenda of the meeting, if they conclude by saying they’re going to send a deal proposal, that’s terrific. But if its still open ended and they want to see coverage with video, that’s normal, and just focus on establishing the relationship with them. The process is never quick and simple. But trust the process, and continue with other avenues. Its still your project until they settle a deal with you, so as long as you’re comfortable putting in the due diligence, and you think it benefits the project, then walk hand in hand with them. In the end, they’re the ones who will lose any sweat equity or consultation they’ve invested in your project without a deal. Be on time. Listen. And think like a producer if you see yourself developing other pitches. This may be just the first project you bring them, and you’ll want to have them as a go-to for future pitches.

      Best of luck! Let us all know how you do 🙂

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      1. Hi Scott!
        I am a writer and Artistic Director of a small production company named Lux Royale Productions. We have a website and a YouTube channel. We are in the process of finishing our first film and we are working on a pilot. What are your suggestions in regards to film festivals and their content? Is this a good place to start.
        Lisa Bastian
        Artistic Director
        Lux Royale Productions

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      2. Hi Lisa-
        Film Festivals are a great venue for both promoting your film through screenings if you’re an official selection, and for networking at the many events and mixers they often have. These days TV also serves the film industry as an outlet, so finding fans and executives to champion your project for TV can happen at film festivals. Some festivals offer categories for short films, screenplays, and other formats outside of narrative features. Check out FilmFreeway to research and enter festivals that fit your project.

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  3. My pilot was awarded Silver in the TV Drama Pilot category of the PAGE Awards, and I’m pumped to have it listed on TV Writers Vault for a year as my prize.

    A quick question before I make the listing — what is the best place I can access samples of how others handled the Synopsis/Pitch Outline? Obviously, I know what a synopsis is, but I’d love to do the best research possible and what approach tends to work on your website. Thanks so much for your help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brian!

      Congratulations on the Silver finish at PAGE Awards. They’re a great organization discovering great material for both Film and TV. I’m happy to hear you’ll be listing at the TV Writers Vault. Hopefully you’ll get connected with the right buyer.

      For a scripted series pitch (the “treatment”, not the full script) your main focus should be the main character and their world. People follow a series because of the main character’s plight, and the interesting world they happen to struggle in. We’re in a golden age for scripted series, so its very exciting that you’re going out with such. We’ve had several option deals for TV Dramas via our platform, and see in this new age of the drama series there’s a huge appetite for a more expansive, intensified, and character driven series set within extreme circumstances and worlds that are both fiction and non-fiction. “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, “Narcos”, “Mr. Robot”, “The Walking Dead”, “Orange Is The New Black”, “House of Cards”, “Game of Thrones”… They’ve given all of us a theatrical experience once only found in movies. They’re like a long twelve hour movie, really getting deep into character and shockingly ironic circumstances. So if you’re pitching a TV drama series in today’s market, here’s what I’d recommend you include:

      The Logline is key in describing the main character(s) circumstance and plight. Its two or three sentences that help the producer reading the pitch understand the core agenda of your unique character(s) and the compelling plight they face. If a producer believes in the logline, which is the core idea, then their minds will open and absorb the rest of your pitch, and hopefully, ultimately, your script.

      Describe the “World” your TV series takes place in. This is where you describe how interesting, relevant, or unique the setting for the series is.

      Character Outline is an important and fun part of the pitch. List your main character first, and then in order of importance. Detail how they relate, what the unique dynamics are, and interesting traits. Always keep in mind that you want to characters that create conflict. This is what fuels the storyline. On a more specific note… Look for the flaws in the “hero”, and the redeeming qualties in the “antagonist”. Nothing is black and white, and you want to humanize your characters. If a producer reading your pitch falls in love with a character and their extreme idiosyncrasies, it can go a long way.

      Detail a Pilot Outline that takes us through the broad beats of what would be the premiere episode. Don’t get bogged down in too much detail. The producer or executive wants to know the arc of the story and how that may propel our characters to conflict, and if interested will read the script to fill in the colorful detail. A good pilot episode sets up the main characters and storyline to continue with peculiar possibilities, making us want to tune in.

      Make strong choices with your characters and story, and you’ll hopefully have the ingredients for a new hit series. And at the very least, get they’ll want to read the script!

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  4. Thanks for the honest insight of how to build a one sheet pitch. I caught myself for fun designing a few reality concepts but my one passion today is for “Red Carpet” a scripted project. Do I follow the same advice you offer for a reality show one sheet for a scripted project?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi.
    I have been working on and trying to “fine tune” my pitch. I know the beginning few episodes. I know the ending episodes. My problem is the middle part & not sure if I am just being too “detailed” in trying to get it to paper. How important is it to have specifics of EACH episode? I feel like I have “writers block” and stuck in the middle. What resources do I have that are able to clear the clouds to get over this stopping point? Is there a person able to collaborate with?

    Thank you.
    Mark

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Mark-

      I think many of us can understand the frustration of having to decide where to drill in to story detail in a treatment being pitched. You want two things; a detailed story outline of one episode (the pilot), and then write a broader outline that shows the story arc for a full season of the series so a producer or TV executive reading it can see how you plan the life of the characters and circumstances to play out. Pitching a scripted series is no quick process, but when you truly love the characters and the subject it explores, then it makes it easier to break through. Collaboration is always great. Sometimes singular visions serve best…But when a project involved a myriad of stories and plots and twists, you’re going to have much more fun brainstorming with another like-minded creative. Stage32 online is a great community to network and connect with other creatives.

      So to re-cap what you’ll need to pitch a scripted TV series, you’ll want to pen a clever TITLE, a LOGLINE that hits us with the main character’s plight and agenda, and a SYNOPSIS that gives us the premise of the series, the main characters’ descriptions, and brief description of the pilot storyline. Then PILOT OUTLINE with all the specific and critical beats that tell the story of what would be the 1st episode. Then an outline that gives us the broader storylines that we’ll see evolve over a full season.

      We’re in a great time for original series, so make strong choices… And when they fall in love with the world of characters you’ve created, then be sure to deliver a great pilot script.

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      1. Hi Scott,

        Thank you for the feedback. Let me state that the pitch I’ve been working on is not a scripted series based on a family or person, but is rather a judged “Competition/Reality” show where contestants are eliminated each week after completing or not completing a specified task.

        Do I need to describe the details of each week’s elimination until the final 3 episodes? Or am I thinking too much into this. I have the beginning 4 weeks and the last 3. Do I need to detail so the specifics of the episodes in the middle?

        If it was just a business or characters. I can see how your above advise would would work. But a judged competition reality show deals with a bit different challenges…. Or does it?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Scott
    I found what you said about crafting the longline, and synopsis very helpful. One of my main concerns that I have is about when the excutive producers decide they do like my idea, and I sell it to them, will I still be able to be part of the show once it is on air? Would I be able to be a writer of the show? Thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Xavier-

      When you’re pitching an idea for a series, and you’ve written a great pitch as a sales tool, what you should be hoping for is that a TV production company gets involved who has a history of producing shows for the networks, and the talent involved that is assigned to the production will bring to fruition all of the potential that was in your original idea. Your involvement in that process will be determined by who you are, and who they are. If you’ve never written or produced a show before, then most likely your involvement will be a bit more passive, with the showrunner, other producers, and writers hired taking the lead. But if you’ve written a script they fall in love with, and they see that you have a gift, and the right tone for the series, then they’d absolutely want you to be more hands on. Whether or not you’re at the writing table and in production meetings, with any sell of a TV show idea you would be tied in with a producer credit, some form of created by credit, per episode fees, and backend…assuming a fair deal is negotiated for you. Everything is negotiable, but deals don’t always close when unreasonable demands are made. You want to be protected and benefit financially, but you also want involvement in the development and production. It will be up to you and the producing company to negotiate the right balance.

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  7. Read the last couple of comments, which go more in line with myself, I got some good insight from Scott and his website (he’s always been honest in emails to me), posted my loglines in the past and will do it again very soon within the next week or so. I’ve written 4 original TV pilot scripts (one comedy, family comedy/drama and 2 crime drama’s) and have ideas for 2 more, one which would be a hit with youths, I also have a couple of ways to retain viewers, but know the Studios will not listen to someone outside the Industry. It’s hard to see when articles are stating networks losing viewers yet 94 million out of work, one would think with good programs would increase viewers, but Hollywood is in a mode of more violence, keep trying the same thing hoping for different results.
    That’s why I still believe in posting with Scott’s website and one other (they send out mag’s with loglines to producers), Scott has a good “client” list, I had Disney look at one logline, they probably thought from the title it may be a animated idea. I tried a Pitch website, lot of production companies with track records for movies and tv, spent a lot of money, tried different loglines but got the same from all of them, “we already have it in production”, how can they all have what’s my head. Here’s my opinion, some of them if they see a interesting logline, might think up a idea for a show, because, and Scott, please correct anything I say, some of the big production companies and studios have writers on staff, I think it’s why we keep seeing the same kind of shows on TV, so studios will listen to these production companies that they have a track record with, but also, the studios will listen to actors and actresses that have ideas, they have been in series with good ratings, I believe 9 out of 10 fail, the studios will keep listening and developing those shows hoping one will catch on.
    I’ve tried contests, but I believe more in Scott’s website, I had my scripts come in fourth and sixth, but all those judging scripts are within Hollywood and set with the type of shows the studios are doing, I also realize I’m more of a creator and not a full time writer, but the one piece of advice for anyone developing a series for TV, think when writing it how it can maintain viewers, in other words, come up with ideas for the show to continue, because if any of us get a chance to sit down to explain our script, we need to talk of upcoming ideas for it. Like Scott says above, it shows everyone that there is serious thought behind the idea.
    So those writing original TV pilot scripts like me, it’s impossible to get notice with big production companies and studios having there own writing staffs along with actors/actresses pitching ideas to the studios, but I believe deep down that some of these production companies will look more and more to websites like Scott’s, and when a couple of TV scripts (non reality) hit, it will make it easier for us from outside of Hollywood. I also hoping that some day that they get away from reading just loglines and realize a couple more minutes to read a synopsis gives them more insight to a person’s idea and script, but that’s like wishing for Santa to bring me all the gifts on my list. Thanks Scott.
    Mitch
    (wouldn’t let me login using my TV Writers account, so used facebook)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Mitch-

    Thanks for the thoughtful note, and your perspectives on pitching TV show ideas and scripts. I hear what you’re saying, and yes, frustration at the system that has turned out so many cookie cutter formulaic shows is valid. BUT we’re in one of the best times in ages to be pitching scripted projects. True life stories, books for adaptation, spec pilots exploring worlds and people we’ve not witnessed before are all viable, and thank goodness for Netflix and other platforms who’ve woken up the giants who now must scramble to find competitive content for their network primetime slate. I think we’re already seeing an improvement. But to speak to your issue of scripted development being a closed club with writing staffs etc. Yes, of course, those are the people who are extremely talented and highly experienced in delivering story and production. There’s a path and career that many follow from working as general assistants, to writers assistants, and on up as they prove their talent. But the world of story and properties that can be optioned, developed and produced is not exclusive to them. Its the great thing about our industry. In the car industry you can’t walk into ford motor company and say “you know what, I have a new design for a car, wanna produce it?”. But in TV and Film, the ideas and properties truly come from all corners of the country, and out of our own life experiences- Ideas that are truly groundbreaking, and truly entertaining to watch. Those are the stories and ideas they run to. Not generic stock ideas that aren’t fully developed, or that have already been explored fifty times over in the development hell of Hollywood. The producers deal with the same frustrations as they try to develop fresh material, but often getting turned down at the network level because “we already tried to develop that three years ago, and here’s why its not as entertaining as it sounds”. Assuming you have a story or format that is truly original and entertaining, the challenges you may face as the writer and creator can be getting it into the right form, having the talent to pen a mind-blowing spec script, knowing how to write a great pitch for your life story, or having access to a world, family, or business that becomes the setting for yet another hit docu-reality series. Networking to get your work known is always the challenge, and that’s just part of any competitive business. I do thank you for believing in the TV Writers Vault. Its helped many connect, and we’ve seen how amazing it is for the ones whose projects were discovered, developed, produced, and premiered on Television. Its a special thing to witness, and we’re in a special time with technology that fosters even more of that type of opportunity as the industry integrates with the Internet.

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    1. Hi Patti-

      The first step is to develop your project with highly original facets (plot points, characters, format wrinkles, twists, etc. etc.) so that it isn’t just a stock idea. The unique and original expression of an idea is protected under copyright law. Register your written works to establish your date of creation prior to exposure in the marketplace or with any third party. Check out http://www.creatorsvault.com for online archival and copyright protection. NEVER send out unsolicited pitches. Network to build relations with producers or executives who may be open to taking your pitch, then follow up in email (written confirmation). If you use the TV Writers Vault you’ll have a record of activity or requests made by any company viewing your pitch, and the smart part is they’re the one scouting, so its not unsolicited.

      Also keep in mind that creating a concept or format for a TV show (reality, game show, or any genre) and copyrighting it doesn’t mean that you have a patent on it. Anyone can independently create by their own imagination the same concept as you. The task is getting it to the mountain top first. There is a collective consciousness in the creative community and media that naturally leads us all to certain subjects or types of projects that are in the same lane, so to speak. In any art form or craft, things are derived from things that preceded them. Take your ideas to the next level by challenging what we’re used to seeing, and create clever and entertaining facets that will deliver great content. That’s what networks want. Develop your pitch, get it out there, keep records, and push to get it shopped to appropriate networks.

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    1. Hi John-

      Ensuring long term profitability? That’s a problem I hope you run into! 🙂 But the reality is its beyond your control. Assuming you set up your project for a TV show with a good production company, you’d be tied in a deal and riding on their coat tails. So you would hope that the show is ordered to series, gets good ratings, and additional installments are ordered. A network is most concerned with actual profitability if they’re putting up the budget, and they have to balance their revenue model. You can’t create from that perspective. Create from what is entertaining… then it has its own life, and own potential as a show that delivers ratings and rewards, or not.

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    1. Hi Laura!
      I’m excited you’re working on a new TV game show idea. You may want to check out the two links below where I’ve written a bit on developing ideas for game shows, and when you’re ready, enter at this link. Just remember… Game shows need to be clever, but very clear. Don’t get bogged down in endless details that complicate and confuse the format. Be highly original, and really try to envision the game play to know if those key moments would be entertaining to watch (ultimatums, decisions, twists, etc.).

      Next Hit Game Show – Presented by the TV Writers Vault

      Creating Game Show Formats

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  9. I have more than 8 pitches, I’ve posted 3 on your site and received instant notification from 2 studios requesting additional information. My biggest problem is that I need help with my Loglines and character development. My pitches are docu-reality, I’ve signed several celebrity chefs, I have a well known jazz artist, along with several other talent ready to proceed. I’m looking to partner with someone to assist with Loglines. One of the studio executives that I met via your site is very interested in one of my pitches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deb-
      That’s great you have some producers in play with your pitches. Loglines can be the most important factor for your project to find traction and keep momentum in the development process. Its the shorthand and short-pitch that TV development executives and producers fall in love with, and ultimately morphs into the message networks use to grab an audience. Loglines should be clever but clear. Feel free to email me using a support ticket link at the TV Writers Vault and I’ll be happy to give you some more specific guidance. I don’t want you to post your loglines in this open forum. You can also read a bit at this link. Thanks, and good luck with your pitches!

      Like

    1. Hi Vanessa-

      It depends on the format. A half hour sitcom is 22 pages. Hour long is probably 50 pages.
      Keep in mind that dialogue moves quickly, so if your script is heavy in dialogue (ala Aaron Sorkin) it may have more pages while not running longer in actual time. Sorkin wrote a feature narrative draft that was almost 300 pages (300 minutes?!!), but in a read through ran under two hours because he’s big on fast snappy dialogue, and that fills pages.

      More important than playing by the rules with page length…make sure what is on those pages is so compelling and clever that they’re left hungry when there’s no more pages to turn.

      -Scott

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  10. Hi Scott

    Thank you for this wealth of information. I live in South Africa, and have no formal education in this industry, but have great interest. Reading your article is my first attempt at educating myself and it was indeed mind blowing. What I would like to find out is if the TV Writers Vault is accessible to foreigners to submit their ideas. I am also looking forward to reading more of your articles as I prepare to contribute to the industry.

    Kind Regards
    Lizeka Tonjeni
    Pretoria (South Africa)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Lizeka-

      I’m so happy that you’re enjoying some of the insight shared. Yes, we have many creatives and producers from around the globe using our service to scout new ideas for television shows. Keep in mind that buyers are focused on the market that they sell to, which for the most part is U.S. programming. Many of the TV shows discovered at the TV Writers Vault have been broadcast globally (Canada, UK, Australia, Netherlands, South Pacific), so they do look for international appeal… But, I would recommend that you focus on the world that you know most, that others haven’t or can’t experience. This may be your life story, or a documentary series that explores an experience or process you understand, or a format that ties to your world but also connects to, or resonates with the rest of the world. Don’t try to serve the “U.S. Audience” by creating what you think is a typically viable concept for U.S. programming. Surprise us. Bring us to a new place.

      Let me know when you’re ready to get your pitch into our marketplace and I’ll help you get set up.
      Thanks for reaching out, and Happy New Year!

      Yours Truly,
      Scott

      Like

  11. I’ve never pitched a TV series before… only film. In film, I understand that producers will ask “What else do you have”, meaning that a screenwriter should have a good 2-3 scripts. Is this the same for television?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anthony-
      Yes, a large part of a production company engaging you with a scripted series is believing you are a talent able to drive the creative process at least from the inception of pilot through development. But I say that only for the genres of scripted TV series, not unscripted reality series ideas. Having spec scripts of current series is great, as well as being able to expand on the life of the series you’re pitching when in discussions with your executive at the company. And when you engage a company with a project, and it finds traction, they’re only going to want more from you…so have more!

      Like

  12. Hi Scott- I want to thank you for this article as it makes clear a lot of thing I didn’t understand before. I have a question… I want to know if there is some common criterion for TV producers to review our projects at the TV Writers Vault.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Marck-
      Every TV Producer or Network Executive has their own mandate and variety of factors that influence what they look for, and what they like when they see it. If I’m to answer your question, it’d have to be in generalities. They’re looking for concepts and content that hasn’t been seen before in a TV series. They like titles and loglines that are highly marketable. True stories, or TV Series Scripts and Concepts that are rooted in truth always get more attention. In the end, even the most sophisticated development executive or producer will say the same. We’re dealing in a craft and world of ideas, so your sensibility for what is entertaining is the most important factor. On the technical side, they want to read a great title, a logline that tells and sells the core idea, a synopsis or format outline that shows us what we’re potentially watching in the series, and depending on the genre…a script that helps them believe you’re as talented as the idea is great.

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      1. Really great stuff Scott! Seeing you respond and helping all of us just keeps me inspired! Thank you!

        Like

  13. I found deep insight from this article. I’m working on a home makeover TV Series and being new to the industry has been challenging. However, this article has given me a good sense of direction. Thanks!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Oforma.
      Keep in mind the home makeover arena relies heavily on talent/casting. There may be fifty different approaches to home makeovers, but none will be interesting to watch if its not built around the right talent (developer, craftsman, crew, designer, etc.). Good luck and have fun!

      Like

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