Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So You Wanna Pitch To The TV Gods...

I've been pitching my ideas and concepts to anyone and everyone I thought that would give me the time of day. Feedback is one of the most important things you can gain from just about anyone because its not about the executives or producers you're pitching to but if the average person (your audience) will watch your show.

The first step in putting together your pitch is to write a logline. The logline is a simple one sentence-summary that tells your story. Rightly or wrongly, it is a long-held belief in the industry that if you can't boil a concept down to a logline, it is probably not a very good idea. It is simply a step you cannot skip. To find excellent examples of loglines, read a few movie posters.

They almost always carry a logline.

Next, write a one-page synopsis on your show idea. Be certain that it includes the conflict, the resolution and main points of your story.

The third step in the process is defining your characters and what makes them interesting. Write a one-paragraph description for your characters and explain how they relate to one another in the broader context of the story.

Step four is the creation of story springboards, which are also known as episode summaries. Story springboards should provide a one to three-paragraph outline for each show that relates to the overall story concept.

Although you can include logos and artwork, they should always be professionally done. Sloppily drawn material or a homemade look will only work against you and diminish the pitch. If you can include eye-popping logos or artwork, however, it will most certainly help to bring a visual life to your idea. Where artwork is concerned, when in doubt, leave it out.

A sizzle reel can also be a very useful and effective tool in a television pitch, although it is not mandatory. Sizzle reels can run five to ten minutes long, and are provided to visually present the concept. A sizzle reel should also hint at the first three or four episodes, and can include animations, graphics and titles. If you do not have the skill or equipment to create a sizzle reel, one very good resource is your local college or university. Often, film majors are looking for material to use for student films and assignments.

Frequently, they can provide the gear and basic expertise that you need to put together a terrific reel. Once again, though, it's always better to leave something out of your pitch, than to include weak material. Sizzle reels should only be included when they are highly professional and provide an effective video representation of your concept.

There are other things that can be included in a television pitch, including a pilot script, a completed pilot, a trailer (which is an abbreviated version of the sizzle reel) or a script treatment. These materials are optional, but are good supplemental additions to your pitch.

What is mandatory is a housing folder. It can be a three-ring-binder or something that is bound at your local printer. By submitting your pitch in a housing folder, you are ensuring that key materials will not be lost or separated from your presentation.

Remember, when completing a television pitch, you are only bound by your own imagination. Be creative, be original and always let your vision be your guide.

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