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Developing Factual TV Shows – How to Get the Best Out of TV Mole


Photo by blmurch http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

TV Mole is now six months old and has grown enormously, so I thought it would be good to look back at some of the best articles and signpost how you can get the best out of TV Mole – whether you’ve been here since the beginning are are just dropping by for the first time.

TV Mole is designed to help you develop and pitch your factual TV ideas – and there a number of ways you can use the site to:

Take a Crash Course in TV Development

If you have you been put into a TV development team for a few weeks but don’t know where to start, TV Mole offers you an easy (some might say cheat’s) guide to developing TV programme ideas, fast – Help – I’ve Been Asked to Develop Some TV Ideas But I Don’t Know What to Do!

Generate Ideas

If you work in a TV production company development team, the pressure to come up with new ideas can be relentless. While you no doubt read the newspapers and watch TV shows in your genre, it can be hard to find stories that dozens of other TV producers aren’t already chasing.

Sometimes, you need a bit of random inspiration to turn your current idea into something different or an idea that you can adapt to your genre and create something  entirely new.

When you are looking for new ideas, get into the habit of scanning the Be Inspired section on the front page (and in the category list on the right), which contains ever-changing snippets of news stories, new books, events and trends. You will have to do the work to turn the stimulus into an idea but the potential scope is huge. The idea a factual entertainment producer will have after reading about an audacious art heist will be very different to the idea a science producer will have.

If you are working in a specific genre, such as history, art, science or multiplatform, click on the category links under Ideas Generator (on the right) to go to the archive of stories related to your genre – there are 350+ articles to explore.

Write Compelling Proposals

Once you’ve had your idea, you need to develop it and refine it. One of the best ways of doing this is to write it down; what seems like a great idea in your mind can seem muddled when you try to explain it on paper. Explore these articles to find out how to write a succinct proposal that gives the commissioners what they want.

How to Write a Proposal a Commissioner Will Actually Read

15 Steps to Writing an Impressive NonFiction TV Proposal

The Secret to Finding Fabulous Free Images to Use in Your TV Proposal

Research TV Channels

There’s no point pitching your idea to a channel that already has a similar programme. To avoid that faux pas, you need to research likely channels by visiting their websites and watching their programmes. However, what’s transmitting on the channel now may not be what the channel is commissioning for transmission in nine months or two years’ time.

To get more up to date information on what a channel has commissioned, go to the tag cloud on the front page of TV Mole. Click on an individual channel’s name to see a list of programmes that it has commissioned since January 2009. There are currently 370+ programmes listed across 97 channels in the UK and USA. Not all channels are listed in the tag cloud – if you don’t see the channel you need use the search box at the top right of the page.

Pitch Your Ideas

Once you’ve pinned down your idea and written your proposal, you need to pitch it.

First, you need to consider where to pitch it. Once you’ve done your channel homework you should have a good idea of which channels might be a good fit. If not, you might need to consider taking a different route:

Where to Pitch Your Idea (and Avoid the Commissioners)

Commissioners often change channels, so to keep an eye on who is where, click on Commissioner Moves (on the right) to find out who to pitch to.  If you want to approach a production company with your idea, click on Development Moves to see who is responsible for development at a range of independent productions companies.

Once you’ve identified an appropriate buyer, your first approach might be via email or face-to-face in a meeting or at a pitch forum. Before you make that approach, make sure that you have answered all the questions that a commissioner will have:

Six Ways to Allay Your Commissioning Editor’s Fears and Sell your TV Programme

Once you have secured a meeting, think about your verbal pitch. There is no set way of pitching but there are certain principles that you need to apply in order to get the most out of your meeting:

How to Work the Room During Your TV Pitch and Secure a Commission

These days, it’s common for channels to only part-fund a show, leaving you to find the rest of the funds from other buyers. If that’s the case you might need to hit the road and go to some of the international TV festivals to pitch your proposal:

International Factual TV Conferences 2009

Get Audience Feedback

If you have recently premiered a show, check if there are any viewer comments for your programme – look at the Latest Comments section (on the right) or use the search box (top right) to find your show.


Need More In-Depth Information?

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