Putting a TV Pitch Together

Below is a question about television for our very own TV Consultant Joey

A question from a reader:

I have a friend (really, it’s a friend, not me) who has an idea for a TV comedy. It’s based on his 10 years experience as the member of an actual famous musical group, and the awful-but-real life on the road, with lots of adult material. He also has an actual TV producer (a friend of another friend) to submit the idea to. I can help him put the query letter together, but what if the producer says, OK I’ll have a look at your pitch” and all he has is his very unpolished memoir/ramblings roughed out?

Joey’s Answer:

The trick with this sort of situation — is there’s no set path.  You could ask 10 people working in the Industry the best way to proceed and you’d get 10 answers.

I worked at a production company in development for a few years — focused on television.  And the company liked to package projects. They liked to find a person who had experience/expertise or fame in the world the story was based in and develop a project with that person — then hire a writer and take the project to networks.

For example, the production company started one project by meeting with a psychic, then hired a writer to write the pilot.   The producer basically helped with the research, shaping the project and provided expert advice on occasion.

They also developed a project in the fashion industry and brought in a well-known designer to be a producer.  It sounds to me, like that is the role your friend would want to play.  He would be the inspiration, provide some technical advice and get a producing credit.  (Sort of like Mark Wahlberg’s role on Entourage — he doesn’t write the show.)

You mention that he has access to a Television Producer — that’s great.  I assume that it’s an Executive Producer/Show-runner.  (Part of the problem with television is that almost everyone is labeled a “producer” — writers, experts and the ones actually producing…it gets confusing.)

You also mention that your friend was part of a “famous musical group” — the truth is that’s going to be his calling card.  If it’s a group that is well-known, there are certainly people who will meet with him based solely on that.  (Hollywood is nothing if not a shallow town!)

What I would suggest you do — is put together a pitch.    The written materials should be simple: a logline, character breakdown, pilot synopsis, series synopsis.  Probably 3-5 pages.  Then use any and all connections to set up a meeting or two with some Production Companies (preferably ones that have deals with a studio.)  For the meeting, your friend will want to prepare 2 or 3 of his greatest stories — most outrageous, funny, unbelievable real incidents that he feels best suit the type of show he’s envisioning.   The more personality he has “in the room,”  the more likely people will take to the idea.

I would suggest taking a few meetings first and just pitch the idea.  That way the producers you meet with can help you find an appropriate writer.  Most production companies will want to get an established writer on board and normally have a “wish-list” of writers they want to take a project to.   Based on my experience, hiring an unestablished writer to write the script is probably not the best way to get the project going.

Anyway — I hope that helps!

If you have further questions – or want more details on the written materials you might want to put together before setting up meetings – please let me know.

Best,
Joey

Do you write TV?  Do you want to?  Contact Joey with any question at joey@scriptdoctoreric.com

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