Do you want to get your ideas on TV?
Do you have a documentary or reality TV idea that you are dying to pitch, but don’t know where to start? Have you tried pitching it and had the door slammed in your face (several times)? Are you frustrated with being fobbed off? Are you losing confidence in your idea, even though deep down you know it’s a great concept? Is is something you did? Or said? Why are the buyers just not that into you? Don’t despair, you’re not alone in your frustration (although it can feel that way)!
Whether you are working for a global ‘super-indie’ production company or are an individual with a passion project there are some simple principles that will increase your chances of attracting channel executives and investors. The thing is, no one will tell you what they are!
While there are hundreds of training courses about camera operation, editing or directing, only a handful teach you how to develop your idea into a viable TV proposition and successfully pitch it. Likewise, there are hundreds of books that teach you how to write and pitch a scripted TV or film idea, but few that explain how to pitch your documentary or reality show idea.
Greenlit is the first book to reveal, step-by-step, how to originate, develop and pitch your factual/non-scripted TV ideas in a global market. It offers you a masterclass in developing documentary or reality TV shows at a fraction of the cost of attending a face-to-face course (even if you could find one). It’s a sound investment of time and money, whether you are still trying to get your foot in the door, or have decades of production experience.
“A few hours reading this book now will save you months – even years – of blood, sweat and tears trying to second guess commissioners. Indispensable.” Lina Prestwood, director of content Current TV
So, what does it take to get your idea on TV?
You need a great idea, the right contacts, resilience and good timing in order to be in with a chance of getting your ideas on screen.
You may have already tried pitching your ideas and been discouraged by rejection, or worse, silence. You’re not alone. It’s not unusual for channel commissioners to reject 99 ideas before they find an idea they’d like to take to the next stage. You’ll notice I didn’t say commission: there are many hurdles still to be overcome once you’ve attracted initial interest from a potential buyer. But if you understand the commissioning process you’ll be able to spot and avoid the potential obstacles and have a much better chance of getting your idea commissioned.
Most professional TV producers don’t fully understand the business of TV commissioning; read Greenlit and you’ll immediately have an enormous advantage over the competition.
The good news is that none of what you will read is rocket science.
But, according to TV channel executives, producers consistently make elementary mistakes when pitching their ideas. Find out what these errors are so you can avoid them – if you screw up your first pitch you may never get another chance.. The key steps are simple to follow and implement – once you know what they are.
“The most comprehensive, insightful and entertaining book on television commissioning you’ll ever read.”
Christian Drobnyk, Director of Entertainment, UKTV.
How do I know what I know?Nicola Lees
I’m Nicola Lees, experienced development producer, and founder of TV Mole. I’ve spent more than 13 years in the international TV business, and have developed written and pitched hundreds of documentary, docu-drama, multi-platform and reality series for broadcasters such as the BBC, Discovery, History, TLC and the The Travel Channel, and have won approximately 80 commissions in the UK and USA. I am going to guide you through the frustrating and often confusing world of TV commissioning, wherever you are in the world.
But you don’t need to just take my word for it. I’ve interviewed 50 top industry names – producers and buyers – to find out what works, and what doesn’t. You’ll get advice from:
- 10 TV development producers - who have a combined experience of 50+ years of developing and pitching ideas at all levels, from trainee researcher to creative director, and
- 20 senior executives from internationally successful independent production companies who have sold some of the world’s most successful shows, to
- 16 channel executives – the people to whom you will pitch your ideas, who between them have worked at
- 18 TV channels – their experience and advice spans commercial and public service broadcasting; cable, terrestrial and satellite channels; documentary, reality, entertainment, specialist factual (science, history, arts, religion and natural history) and multi-platform programming, in
- 7 countries across 4 continents
I also incorporated advice from a Hollywood agent, several video editors, a storytelling consultant, two production managers and four commercial rights experts.
Collectively, the people who will share their insider knowledge with you have originated, pitched, bought or produced some of the most successful, award-winning TV shows and documentaries in the world, including Supernanny, Who Do You Think You Are?, Touching the Void, Meet the Natives and Deadliest Catch. You are getting hundreds of years of experience condensed into a few hundred pages.
More than 200 internationally known programmes are referenced alongside entertaining in-depth case studies of 25 programmes that reveal exactly how they were originated, developed and pitched.
You can’t get this much information anywhere else – this is the definitive guide to TV development and pitching.
“The inside track on TV development from one of the best developers in the business.” Saul Nassé, General Manager and Creative Head, BBC Worldwide Productions, India
How will it help you?
If you follow the advice, use the recommended resources and do the exercises in the book you will greatly increase your chances of winning a TV commission.
Greenlit is packed with my personal experiences, down to earth advice, tips, resources, case studies and sample proposals that you can use to develop, write and pitch your own proposals.
Candid and revealing interviews with top channel executives – the people to whom you could be pitching your idea – give you a priceless insight into the business and psychology of buying and selling TV programmes.
You will learn valuable insider secrets - information that no-one will ever voluntarily tell you – and tips and techniques that really work.
You’ll also receive four examples of successful written proposals that you can use as a template for your own proposal. A seriously flawed example shows you where people usually go wrong.
A few hours of reading will give you useful resources and key pitching strategies that you can use over and over again.
“A lifetime of experience in a day’s read – this book is invaluable.” Mike Loades (TV host, director and compulsive pitcher)
- Whether you really have what it takes to sell your ideas
- How to understand the international TV landscape – who’s commissioning what and why
- How to spot great ideas every day
- How to turn an idea into a killer TV show format
- Where to find onscreen talent, and how to keep them sweet
- What to write in a professional proposal – and how to protect your valuable ideas
- Why you should always try to shoot some tape – and when it’s not a good a idea
- How audiences are increasingly interacting, influencing and playing with content on a variety of platforms
- What buyers are thinking as you pitch your idea – what turns them on and what turns them off (and it is jaw-dropping)
- How to avoid all the potential pitfalls get the greenlight – and when you should walk away.
Take a peek behind the scenes to see how the broadcasting industry REALLY works and use the secrets of professional – and successful – TV developers to make YOUR idea a must-buy proposition.
“Read this to get into the business….and for a reality check if you’re already there!” Gary Lico, President/CEO, The Companies of CABLEready, USA
Buy the book now
There are a number of ways to purchase the book, depending on where you are in the world:
Building on the success of Greenlit, this book is the most accessible guide to the traditional, emerging and creative funding models being exploited by factual TV producers and documentary filmmakers in an ever-changing international market. It introduces you to ten different kinds of funder – from international broadcasters to ordinary individuals – and reveals their very different motivations for funding non-fiction films and TV series.
Advice from industry insiders – producers, buyers, media agencies and film funding bodies – is combined with a range of case studies that illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of each source of funding. Packed with practical, actionable tips and examples of successful written proposals and grant applications (along with tales of caution), this book explains exactly what TV commissioners, grantors, brands and investors are looking for in a pitch. There are a number of excellent books that provide directories of funding bodies, or focus on the complexities of entertainment business contracts and legal issues, but the problem is that directories go out of date as soon as they are published and legal/business affairs books require you to have an enormous amount of specialist expertise in order to make sense of them.
Give Me the Money and I’ll Shoot! is designed to be a readable and entertaining overview to all the different kinds of funding available to you. Some are best suited to executive producers seeking to fund expensive landmark TV series, others are more appropriate for first-time filmmakers working with a micro budget.