Network television can be tough to break into since networks often look for people with previous experience, but it is not impossible. Coming up with an original and well-thought-out idea is just the beginning. Convincing the network that your idea would make a worthwhile TV show and finding a production company interested enough to buy it, that requires plenty of research and serious networking.
- Skill level:
Find an idea and a network. Come up with an original, unique story and be passionate about it. It is best to have two or more show ideas ready to pitch, in case an executive already has a similar idea in the works. Research existing shows aired by each network and plan to approach the one without a current show similar to your idea.
Write a treatment. Compile a brief synopsis of your idea, known as a treatment. A treatment is not a script but a guide for a development executive to use to pitch your idea to his boss. Usually one to five pages in length, a treatment summarises your idea and explains why it is right for television using persuasive, lively language. The website donedealpro.com offers an example of a television treatment.
Make contacts. Attend film festivals, industry conferences and classes. Enter writer's contests, as the judges are often industry professionals who may be impressed enough with your entry to offer a development deal. At the very least, you can start collecting names and business cards of potential contacts.
Get representation. Hire an agent or entertainment attorney if you want to pitch a TV show to a network yourself. Nearly all networks and production companies require writers to approach them through either an attorney or an agent. An attorney or agent can contact the appropriate people to get you an appointment with a television executive.
Write the pitch. Develop a pitch that is an energetic, 10-minute verbal description of your show. The goal is to keep it short, focus on highlights and avoid too many details. Be enthusiastic and sell yourself and your idea.
Go to the network. Arrive at least 15 minutes early for your appointment. Take 6 or 7 extra copies of your treatment and any requested supplemental material. Have a firm grasp of who your target audience is and why they would like your show.
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