Pitching a TV pilot in a room full of executives and producers is a daunting prospect. It is surely tricky and requires skill to convey your idea effectively in the given time. Without a doubt, that is the real battle — making an impressive pitch that leaves a mark. One may have the brightest and the newest idea or a storyline for a TV show, but it is useless if he fails to pitch it properly to the right people.
The Segments of a Great TV Pilot PitchThe key, like every other ambitious venture, is preparation. Merely having the ideas burnt in mind is not enough; preparing and practicing the entire process of a successful pitch is pivotal.
A pitch for a TV pilot has the following segments:
- Show bible
- Pilot script
A description of these is given here, along with examples and a final template for you to understand how to perfectly prepare it all.
Logline is a short description of the story that encapsulates its essence and the core concept it holds. It is only one or two sentences long. Needless to say, writing an excellent logline is highly critical for the effectiveness of a pitch.
A good logline introduces them to the protagonist, the conflict, the action, and the antagonist. For example, this can be a logline for the ABC’s legal drama thriller series “How to get away with murder”:
“A group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor become involved in a twisted murder plot that promises to change the course of their lives.”
As the name suggests, one-sheet in pitching a pilot is one sheet of paper that contains a compact collection of information about the entire pitch. With this, you are giving all of the required information to the executives about yourself and your pitch. Here is a template of one-sheet:
Name and contact information: Add your full name, phone number, and email address so they know how to reach you.
Title: Pick an interesting title for the TV show you are pitching for. A title is very important as it has a lot of say in the appeal as well as the longevity of the show.
Logline: Write the logline of your pitch here; this gives them an idea about the storyline and nature of the show.
Genre: Mention the genre or genres your story will develop in.
Format: Format decides the general structure and shape of the show. It is different from the genre. Technically, the format of a show envisions the length of each episode and how the story will break down between the episodes. For example, details like the length of the episodes, whether the show will be a miniseries, or whether or not each episode will comprise one individual story.
Brief synopsis: This includes about 8-10 lines that outline the core storyline. It also includes how you envision the show and where the story will move further.
The show bible contains in-depth details about the plot, characters, elements, and themes. It reveals who the main characters are and illuminates their different quirks, complexities, or flaws. For this, you can make a list of characters. The show bible also sparks interest by stating what choices a character makes and his reasons behind them. Further, you also have to include your ideas regarding the feel and the tone of the show.
Other than these primary details, an episode to episode synopsis for the first season or the whole series should be in the show bible. You can be comprehensive and detailed with this. But in the pitch, it is better to use a lesser number of pages. Thus, 1-3 lines per episode are adequate.
A template for show bible is given below: T
Title: Write the title of your show.
Logline: Write the logline here again.
Brief synopsis: Describe the dynamics of the show and give a broad overview of the storyline and setting.
Main characters: List your characters and highlight their interesting traits and why they will appeal to an audience.
Pilot outline: A detailed breakdown of the first episode of the show also known as the pilot. Show’s future prospects: In this section, tell them the number of seasons there will be and how many episodes each season will have. Here you can add a brief synopsis for each episode. Heres an example of a show bible below.
Pilot ScriptThis is the part where you have to show them your ability and skills as a screenwriter. With the pilot script, one can visualize how words and ideas will transform into a show. This is where all things begin to come together and become real. For instance, the tone and the mood can be judged from the pilot script; characters are seen as they are in their own world, and their quirks are known. Consequently, with this first script, producers can evaluate its development on the screen.
5 Tips to Successfully Pitch a Pilot
After learning the actual process of pitching a pilot, it is requisite to navigate through a few governing factors and tips to successfully pitch a TV pilot. Know your audience. The first step to any form of public speaking is knowing the people you will be speaking to. In the case of pitching a TV pilot, try to learn all you can about the executives and the work they have done. Find out about the movies they have produced or worked with and assess the themes and ideas they feel more inclined towards. In short, learn how they like their pitch, then tailor your presentation accordingly.
- Know your audience. The first step to any form of public speaking is knowing the people you will be speaking to. In the case of pitching a TV pilot, try to learn all you can about the executives and the work they have done. Find out about the movies they have produced or worked with and assess the themes and ideas they feel more inclined towards. In short, learn how they like their pitch, then tailor your presentation accordingly.
- Don’t rely entirely on spoken or written words; seek the companionship of strong, dynamic visual aids. A stack of pages is not nearly as attention-grabbing as art that enhances and vitalizes your content. You want to get your idea across through as many stimuli as you can.
- Employ the emotional hook and hold on to it. In this industry, shying away from powerful emotions is never a good idea. So make sure that your pitch includes that whirlwind of emotions, conflict, and the intensity that a good TV show demands. Also, giving your story a strong emotional core is very important.
- Polish your pitch. Revise and memorize it. The executives and producers do not want to hear a poorly rehearsed pitch. So don’t just recite it off the page; exhibit your ambition, your talent as a writer, and your emotional connection with it.
- Keep your pitch brief. When you are rehearsing it, make sure that you time it so that when the time comes, you don’t have to cut it short at the spot. There is no need to delve into all the details in the beginning. A long, never-ending pitch is never received eagerly. Keep them hooked on the dynamic of the show, its appealing factors, and its gripping plotline.
Pitching the Perfect Pilot
Not every pitch goes perfectly, but preparation is the key. By following the steps provided here, you’ll be well on your way to a flawless pilot pitch!