Pitching to Television at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 13th, 2006, 11:51 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 170
Pitching to Television

I'm not sure if this is the right place for a question like this, but since I haven't done much research in this area before I wasn't sure where to start looking.

We have a concept for an episodic show that we would like to pitch to a television network. Our plan is to shoot a pilot and pitch this, along with an outline for the rest of the season's episodes.

Obviously we'd love to have it picked up by a major network but even something like a niche cable channel would do the trick.

Any thoughts on where to begin? I know that PBS has a great section on their website about producing for them, but I'm looking at targeting a more "commercial" market for this project.

.
__________________
Jason J. Gullickson
Producer
the second society
http://2soc.net
Jason J. Gullickson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 13th, 2006, 12:54 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Posts: 548
Best thing to do is get a good agent.
Research the creators of shows in your niche, find out who represents them.
When you contact those agents, even if they don't choose to take you on, they may know others that could be interested. (that's the whole agent thing ;) )

My understanding is that networks are typcially shopping for new pilots in late summer, so it would be useful to have your pilot, or trailer, ready to go before then.
__________________
Nick Jushchyshyn Matchmoving, Compositing, TD
imdb
Nick Jushchyshyn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 13th, 2006, 01:37 PM   #3
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Jason, I attended a seminar by a screenwriter and he laid out the pitching schedule like this (I may have written it down wrong):

TV development schedule:

May-June
Production Companies are 'open'. At any other time they will be too busy to hear pitches from writers. If they like the pitch, they then develop the treatment.

August to September
is called "Pitching Season". This is the only time when networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) will consider pitches for new shows. Both the writer and the Production Company will pitch the proposed show to the network. If the network is interested, they will hire the Production Company to produce the pilot. The pitching writer then writes the pilot.

January February
- The networks pick the pilots they like.

April-May
This is called 'staffing season'. After the pilot has won approval, the network orders a full or half season. Based on this the Production Company then needs to get under way immediately. The pitching writer usually becomes the Executive Producer of the show and is basically in charge of the show. They are the 'showrunner'.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 13th, 2006, 01:48 PM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 170
Thanks for the feedback guys, this helps alot.

Have any of you been involved in this process, sucessfully or otherwise?
__________________
Jason J. Gullickson
Producer
the second society
http://2soc.net
Jason J. Gullickson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 13th, 2006, 02:20 PM   #5
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Not me :) I'm just passing along what I heard.

Also, one thing that I believe Nick was correcting you on which bears a bit of explanation. He referred to getting in touch with the 'creators'. This is different from what you said about pitching to networks.

From what I understand from that seminar I attended, it is a common mistake to assume that you pitch to networks first. The writer said, instead, that pitching is usually done in partnership with a production company who would be the ones actually making the show after concluding a successful pitch with the network. So there is a two-step process. You first find the production company who have the track record and interest in developing such a project. If you are able to get their interest, then both you and the production company approach channels.

I read as much in a recent article about how "The Unit" was successfully pitched to CBS. David Mamet got together with Shawn Ryan, the producer of "The Shield" on FX. Together they went around to the networks until they found a home with CBS.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 13th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Posts: 548
Great input Kieth. Thanks for providing more detailed insights.

My own experience is limited to being a supervisor on a visual effects team that worked on a teaser scene that was to be used in pitching a possible new series. In this case, the writer had previously worked on Sliders, and had a production company/agent lined up, but wanted a very effects heavy HD teaser scene completed for the pitching process to take to the networks.

Our delivery targets were aimed for the end of July to be ready for pitching season, but along the way one of the other effects shops had to pull out which basically made it impossible to have the teaser ready in time. We completed our commitments on the shots anyway, but the urgency of deadlines dropped since the next opportunity to make use of the whole piece doesn't come around again until this year's pitching season.

As Keith pointed out, the key to this story was that even this writer, having experience on a successful series (and the contacts that go with it) was not going it alone to pitch to the networks.
__________________
Nick Jushchyshyn Matchmoving, Compositing, TD
imdb
Nick Jushchyshyn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2006, 07:28 AM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Loh
Also, one thing that I believe Nick was correcting you on which bears a bit of explanation. He referred to getting in touch with the 'creators'. This is different from what you said about pitching to networks.
That completely makes sense. Looks like I have some elbows to rub...

Thanks guys this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for!
.
__________________
Jason J. Gullickson
Producer
the second society
http://2soc.net
Jason J. Gullickson is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:09 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network