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pitching an idea TV 0 22 October 2015

Pitching Ideas: Epic TV Studios’ Guide

Even after coming up with an idea that could potentially lead to the most incredible film or TV show ever to be seen (!), writers and directors still have the arduous task ahead of having to convince decision-makers of its worth. In order to be successful, it is essential to approach the right people, in the most concise and clear way possible and anyone who has pitched before will know that this is not as easy as it sounds. The perfect pitch requires the skills of a researcher, salesperson, copywriter and natural communicator to name a few. To help you with this process, we have added the best tips we could come up with below. Hope you find it helpful!

Before you begin
This may seem obvious, but you must be sure of this number one consideration before going ahead with your pitch; are you approaching the right person? It is essential that you know your commissioner, audience, channel and/or network before delivering your pitch, so some research around this is key. Many commissioners will have guidelines that they work to and specific requirements, which are often provided on their websites (for example BBC, ITV, C5, UKTV or Sky commissioning pages). Be sure to look at these where they are provided.

Do you really believe in your idea?
Do you genuinely believe that yours is an absolutely fantastic idea? If not, stop here. If you aren’t convinced yourself, it will be extremely difficult to convince others. Only approach clients with ideas that you believe in 100% and are truly excited about yourself, as how you feel about your project really will come across in your pitch. If you’re not excited about it, why should anyone else be?

Next steps
When selling your idea to others, it is very important to be clear on exactly what is on offer and, as mentioned above, to be able to summarise exactly that, effectively in just a few words, before going into more depth. It is generally felt that the best way to do this is with a great logline. Loglines can be trickier to come up with than you may think, so here are a few tips you may find helpful when creating yours:

  • Try thinking up some single words that encompass the idea you would like to get across. Once you have a collection of relevant words that you feel define your production, you can build around them to begin the next stage.
  • Try to create a one sentence logline and NEVER go over two.
  • Adapt your logline accordingly, depending on whether your narrative is character or story-driven, by focusing on specific elements. Let us know about the protagonist/antagonist by using words that describe them, as opposed to their names. For example, the ‘eccentric musician’ or ‘quick-witted accountant’.
  • Let us know about their goal in your production, or the obstacle that they have to overcome, remembering not to give away the ending.

Trying to get your narrative across in a captivating way, in a few seconds, calls for some very specific skills. If you really struggle with this, it may be worth talking to a good copywriter, who can help you to come up with the perfect summary.

Presenting with confidence
Thorough preparatory work should really help you to pitch with confidence and be able to communicate your idea efficiently on request. Either face-to-face or via email, state the genre, target audience and logline then be ready with a fuller explanation of 3-5 minutes (or one page of writing). Make sure you cover the who, what, why, when, where and how. If you know the material you are presenting, you will find the pitch surprisingly easy. If you’re unsure of what your point is, it could feel like a very long few minutes!

Stay positive
If you do not get the reaction that you were hoping for, do not lose heart. This has happened to ALL of the world’s best writers and producers. What may not be right for one client may be perfect for another, so keep adapting and improving your pitch while trying other avenues.

Feedback
Getting as many different points of view as possible is a very clever move. You may feel that you would like to alter your idea after feedback, or you may not, either way, feedback is your friend and will give you valuable insights, so get it where you can.

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