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How do I get my show on television?
 
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johnmason
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How do I get my show on television?      Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:32 pm Reply with quote

I have a great idea for a TV series! Idea

How do I get my idea presented to the big networks? This is way too good of an idea for TNT or any of those little guys. ABC, CBS, FOX. or NBC only please!

Help me fast before someone else thinks of this!

Very Happy Razz Laughing
 
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CrazyAboutTV
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Getting Your TV Show on Television      Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:26 pm Reply with quote

So you have an idea for a TV show that you are sure would be a hit! You just need someone to listen and you'll become a TV Producer extraordinaire!

It sounds really great but, in the real world, networks rarely accept pitches for new shows from "unproven" people. This is just a fact that you must deal with or give up your dreams of getting your show(s) on television. TV networks get hundreds of ideas each season from people who have proven records in the industry and thousands sent to them unsolicited from those trying to break into the business. There are only a limited number of time slots to fill and network executive only have so much time to hear pitches.

Networks almost always just destroy unsolicited pitches that they receive by mail without opening them or they send them back without opening. They do this because they may already have your idea in production! If they open thousands of unsolicited pitches, they would be getting sued constantly for infringing on other people's work.

So how does a person without a proven track record become a TV writer and/or Producer? Well, a lucky few of them have a contact in the industry who can get the attention of the networks. But for the vast majority of us, that's not an option.

If you're still serious about doing what's necessary to break into the television industry, you should consider that it's just another business just like any other. Your prospective employer (the network) will be more likely to believe that you can make your idea successful if you have a college degree. Experience in writing some high school and college plays would be a nice addition. Maybe you wrote for a show on a smaller network before pitching to NBC? In other words, education and experience are never bad things and they're usually absolutely mandatory in order to be taken seriously.

You will also almost certainly need to be represented by an agent, a manager, an entertainment attorney, or a production company in order to get an appointment for a network pitch. Your brother-in-law who is a cop by day won't do! You need a professional to represent you. One with contacts who will take their call at the networks. Even these people are unlikely to speak with you unless you have either something already written or you have had some success doing something in TV or Film. Writers can find representatives by visiting the "Writers Guild of America" website. They also have lots of other resources for writers.

So let's say that you have broken through the walls and have an appointment with network executives. Typically, they will give you 10-15 minutes to sell them on your show. And when they say 15 minutes, they will probably kick you out the door one second after that even if you're in the middle of a sentence! These guys and gals are busy people! So don't mess around with every little detail of each character's past that brought them to the point they will be at in the pilot! You may think that's really important but the executives just want to get an idea of what ratings they might get for your show.

So what should you say and do at the pitch? First, give them a 25 word or less description of the show. Then tell them what the main character is all about. Do they want something (riches, love, etc.) and if so, what or who is keeping them from getting what they want? What is the character's downside for going after what they want? Will their chasing after money cause someone to try to kill them and if so, how will they react and stay alive? Will they kill their enemy, help the cops catch them, or what? If they're after love, will they have to divorce a current spouse? Or get their new love to leave a current mate? Will the current mate kill themselves when told?

In other words tell them what your show will be about, why the main character will be interesting, how the other important characters will interact with the main character, and what will be the first "twist" or two. And, then sell the show to them! Tell them how your show will appeal to their target audience. Of course, you will have to learn that before the pitch. If you know who you'll be pitching to, find out what their "pet peeves" are. If one of them hates characters with "squeaky" voices, does your show really need that? If so, you better be able to sell that idea big time!

And during all that, don't forget that your tail end is going out that door when the time they gave you is up. If you don't get through everything you feel that you need to tell them in order to sell the show ... you probably won't sell it!

So how do you make sure that doesn't happen? It's called practice! Practice! Practice! And be prepared for the network guys to goof you up! They may take four of your 10 minutes to ask questions! They might take eight of your ten minutes! Be prepared for such a contingency. Have a short pitch ready! Think about what questions they might ask and be prepared to answer them, hopefully in a way that gets out your entire pitch.

We've talked a lot about how little time you'll get at the pitch and how important it is to not go over. It's just as important to not run out of things to say during your time with the network executives. Again ... these folks can be unbelievably busy and they might not appreciate your wasting eight minutes of the ten for which they have nothing else scheduled. They also might think that you don't have much of a grasp on what your show is about if you can't come up with 10 or 15 minutes of stuff to say about it.

Finally, if they insult your idea, don't lose your cool! People sometimes change their minds. Maybe one hates it but the other executive loves it and has more authority. Maybe they hate it for their network but think they can sell it to a smaller network. Maybe they won't buy this one, but they were impressed enough with you to meet with you when you have another pitch. Maybe they are just jerks and always insult writers to see what reaction they'll get. In any case, you probably have nothing to gain by going off on them. And you might have everything to lose. So be polite, tell them that you are sorry that they don't like this idea, and say that you hope to do business with them in the future. Then walk out the door with a smile on your face, knowing that they will be sorry when your show runs seven seasons on another network!

I hope that doesn't just overwhelm you but rather gives you an idea of what is involved in most cases.

Good Luck!
 
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AidansMom
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Getting a television show on TV.      Mon Aug 03, 2009 11:36 am Reply with quote

That's really interesting CrazyAboutTV! I never really thought about it. I kind of figured that the networks all had their own writers who came up with new ideas.

In any case, being a TV writer/producer sounds pretty exciting to me! It's something for those younger kids out there to think about because it sounds like your chances would be best if you strarted getting educated and experienced early in life. Very Happy
 
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johnmason
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How do I get my show on television?      Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:15 am Reply with quote

What you say makes lots of sense about them not wanting to deal with every Joe Blow who thinks they've got the idea for the next blockbuster TV show.

I was kind of hoping though, that there was a "tv show ideas hotline" or something where I could make a 5 minute call and than get my check for 10 million dollars and go buy an island in the carribean.

Oh well!

Evil or Very Mad Crying or Very sad Evil or Very Mad Crying or Very sad Evil or Very Mad
 
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JazzLover
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I'll get my damned tv show on television by god!      Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:26 pm Reply with quote

I heard somewhere that Comedy Central does accept unsolicited television show ideas so if your show is a comedy, you might want to try them.

Maybe if you wrote a script for a show that is intended for one particular actor or actress to star in and sent it to them, they might read it and then show it to a producer. Really play up the "I wrote this for you" aspect!

Hey! What ya got to lose but some printing costs and some postage?


Hurry up! There are many others out there writing scripts!

 
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BeachBoy
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Public access television show?      Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:26 am Reply with quote

Most cable companys have local acess channels that you can rent for as little as $100 for a one hour show and you may only have to committ to one episode! It don't get much cheeper than that!

That price includes the use of their studio, television cameras, lighting, etc. and I've heard that they may even offer some help with the produktion.

You will have other possible expenses for a cameraman, video and sound editors, etc. depending on how professional you want to go. Remember, this is just public access! No one expects network television quality.

You should try to get a sponsor to pay your costs. If your uncle owns a car dealership, you've got it made! Your comercials don't have to be big productions either. Just tell your audience how your show wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for John Doe Ford a few times. Your sponsor might even have their own professionally produced comercial that you can use. There are even people earning a living from the excess commercial fees from their television show!

So if you want to get your show on television, give public acess a try!
 
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AidansMom
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Get your series on tv!      Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:41 am Reply with quote

Great idea BeachBoy! I never thought about public access. Even though the viewership is low, it would give something to show to potential producers/networks/etc. They would be at least a bit more likely to consider putting a show on tv with something already produced to go on.

Good thinking!
 
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