So you have a meeting on the books to pitch your brilliant idea for a TV show? Good for you! Now you have to figure out how not to blow it.
How much detail do you go into? How long should your pitch be? These are questions I’ve fielded often. The truth is, every buyer is looking to hear something a little different. But in general, I’ve found that the following guidelines are helpful and applicable to most buyers:
• Open by briefly talking about what drew you to this idea, why you think it will appeal to a broad audience, and what the universal relatable themes of the show are.
• Next, go through your characters. What makes them unique, flawed, interesting? Why are we going to come back week after week to spend time with these people? Buyers really want to be intrigued by and invested in their characters on their shows. You don’t have to spend much time on your more minor characters, but you need to relate a sense of how everyone interacts in each episode. If it feels more organic to you, you can introduce your characters as we meet them in the pilot episode, rather than talking about them upfront.
• Get into the pilot episode. You won’t have to pitch it out beat by beat, but detail is important. You need to at least briefly describe the important scenes in each act. One of the notes I have consistently heard from buyers is that they want you to jump into the story of the pilot quickly and not spend too much time on back story and exposition. They’re not big on premise pilots. They want the pilot to feel as much like any other episode of the show would be, as much as possible. Obviously, you need to stay true to the vision you have of your show. But they will definitely want to hear you go through the pilot in detail. They need to get an idea of what this first episode is like, so they can get an idea of what the future episodes would be.
Plan to talk for about 20 minutes. You also need to have a vision for the series thought out so you can be prepared for the inevitable questions: Is the show serialized? Can all or part of the story be close-ended?What happens week to week?
Buyers will need to feel confident that you’ve thought it through and that this pitch will not only be a terrific pilot, but has the legs to be a series for several years to come.