NBC, ABC, FOX and most other channels all air a plethora of shows, but almost none of them have a direct hand in their production. The responsibility for creating TV shows falls on television production companies, outside studios that develop, pitch and sell shows to the broadcast and cable networks. Production companies are responsible for assembling writers, actors and crew to produce pilot episodes and hopefully take on the task of regularly producing a hit series. Creating a new television production company is a monumental task that can produce ample revenue if successful.
- Skill level:
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Write a business plan detailing the mission, organisation and means of revenue for your production company. Designate whether your company will specialise in specific genres, what sets it apart and how it will grow. Register with your local chamber of commerce and purchase advertising space in trade publications to get your name out to the public.
Solicit series submissions from creators, or develop ideas in-house. Request that you be given a summary treatment with a script for a pilot episode and ask that the creator pitch their idea in person. Judge the strengths and weaknesses of the submissions and decide which ones you wish to fund.
Hire writers, crew and actors to shoot a pilot episode for your selected show or shows. Organise and budget a development and shooting schedule. Attend to your creative team's needs in production---such as equipment or on-location shooting permits---or basic necessities---such as food and rest room facilities.
Network with broadcast and cable affiliates to ascertain how to submit your pilot episode. Arrange a meeting with the programming purchasers for the affiliate and pitch your show. Sell them on the strengths of your program and how it will continue to draw in viewers---and advertising revenue---as a series.
Tips and warnings
- Unless your company collapses financially, don't give up after one---or several---failed pilots. Very few shows earn a spot in one of the limited time slots, so when one does succeed, it establishes a good reputation for the production company.
- Show business is a business like any other, so don't give in to the temptation to use cheesy gimmicks to gain the attention of a network. Approach all business dealings in a straightforward way and trust in your program to be attention-grabbing on its own.
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