Broadcasters, funders, and production companies must filter through a daily deluge of proposals, many of which are for ideas that probably never should have been pitched in the first place. A producer can be passionate about an idea only to have it instantly shot down as being too niche, not audience friendly, poorly thought out, or too expensive or difficult to execute, among other things. What a waste of time and money.
What if you could put your idea through a basic filter like that used by commissioning executives to extract the workable ideas from the rejects? I’m not suggesting commissioners and funders keep a checklist at their side but the items on this checklist are common practice and are intrinsic to knowing how ideas become shows.
To begin, remember the people to whom you’re pitching aren’t there to help you achieve your vision. Don’t expect them to embrace your vague idea’s potential and nurture it to fruition. You have to do that before you bring them your idea. Remember, they want something that will keep them in their jobs (or even get them promoted).
A pitchworthy idea is:
- More than a topic or issue.
- Can be pitched in one or two sentences that anyone can ‘get’.
- Has engaging characters who change in the face of adversity.
- Has a clear narrative with obstacles, twists and turns, the promise of triumph or insights revealed.
- Seems similar but not too similar to a successful show.
- Doesn’t seem similar to a show that failed (or was only marginally successful).
- Is portrayed in a proven format suitable for the content, audience, and channel.
- Attracts an audience that appeals to advertisers.
- Has an attention-getting title that conveys the show’s tone, style, and content to its audience.
- Has proven talent attached or could also have new talent whose ability can be showcased in a pitchtape.
- Comes from (or has the backing of) an experienced producer who has produced similar shows.
- Looks expensive and polished but can be made at reasonable cost.
- Lends itself to multi-platform content that engages and retains audiences and spreads the show.
If your idea can survive this checklist, it will have a better chance than the majority of pitches out there. Can you suggest more checklist items to filter ideas?