Everyone steals ideas. You forget you’ve done it a few times but you sure as hell remember the times when it happened to you. Perhaps it’s the nature of the game. But it’s still mighty annoying, so let’s consider the three most egregious forms of creative burglary in order of irritation caused.
You had a belter of an idea, worked it up, and invested everything in the pitch. Of course, it failed. But now the question is; is it OK to rehabilitate the idea later for use in another job? Your contract says no- they own you, baby- but surely they’ve had their chance? A good idea, if it’s really that good, should have the chance to breathe again. Jury’s out on this one, but I say fair’s fair. Recycling is the future!
You’ve had a killer format made and it’s doing brilliantly. Now someone else wants a piece of the action. So they pitch The Apprentice…for chefs. Or 1940s House…for farming. Or Kill it Cook it Eat it…for the fur trade (woops!) It’s not really theft, but it’s seriously annoying that the channel didn’t come to you first.
We’ve all experienced the life-sapping exasperation when you’ve an idea in play and the commissioner tells you they prefer a very similar idea that‘s in-house, invariably from the regions. Is this mere coincidence, great minds thinking alike? Possibly, but with some people it happens not infrequently enough for us to suspect, at best , incompetence, at worst, foul play. So how can you be really sure they nicked it? When they give you gratuitous paid development for a project both of you know won’t work. Always a giveaway.
By Bezlshazzar (who works in a development team near you…)
P.S. to lurking commissioners – You know who you are – and so do we…
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Get more development and pitching tips in Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch
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