INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)
My friend’s agent supplied the following list/outline to use while the pitch for an original TV series. This is specifically intended to help focus the pitch for a one-hour network drama, but you should be very clear on all of these aspects before you pitch anything to anyone – or before you start writing a pilot.
Another friend’s agent had a great note after reading his original pilot: where is the series going? The agent didn’t want to give specific notes on what seeds to plant in the pilot without knowing how they were going to flower later in the first season.
Also, the agent points out, you should be able to cover all these in a 10 minute pitch.
1. THE TEASER – Pitch out a tease that grabs your audience, that is visual, gives a sense of the world, tone and set up of our show.
2. THE WORLD – After you have grabbed our listener, tell us what the world is and why you want to do a show about it.
3. THE CHARACTERS – Outline our characters in order of importance, allowing what makes each one distinct to shine through (quirks, traits, backstory). Also discuss character dynamics, how each character relates to each other and what their point of views are about each other. Tell us about triangles, rivals, love interests, etc.
4. THE PILOT – Broad stroke the rest of the pilot. Do not go beat by beat or act by act. This should really just be broad strokes and any key plot points which helps establish character and set up. Also your pilot needs to serve as an example of what a typical episode would look like (i.e. an example of a closed ended story and examples of character conflicts.)
5. THE SERIES – Discuss what an episode of your show looks like, where you want to go in series, potential storylines and character arcs and entanglements.
6. THE TONE – You want to make sure you have clearly established the tone of your show and may want to hit it again in the wrap up at the end. It is often helpful to use shows that people are familiar with.