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TV Development and Pitching 101: Welcome to Development Hell

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Photo by Plutor CC BY 2.0

What exactly is TV development? It’s the hard slog between having the spark of an idea and getting contract from a channel, or other funding body, who is going to fund you to make it. That process can take a few hours (rarely) to many years (often). There’s an element of luck and timing in any successful pitch, but many ideas are rejected by buyers in the early stages because they haven’t been fully developed and aren’t suitable, or ready, to be commissioned.

There are ten main steps to getting your idea commissioned:

  1. Understanding the TV landscape – this is the first place where most people fail
  2. Generating original – but marketable – ideas
  3. Developing an initial idea into a fully worked out TV series or documentary proposition
  4. Thinking about how multiplatform content could enhance your idea
  5. Writing a clear and compelling proposal
  6. Finding perfect onscreen talent
  7. Producing a pitch tape
  8. Pitching the idea to a buyer
  9. Locating top up funding from other buyers
  10. Getting a channel to commit to your idea – and stick by their decision.

But first, you need to take a look at yourself. Have you got what it takes to be successful when pitching ideas? Having the right attitude is vital, and and it’s harder than it sounds – you have to switch from being a ‘creative’ to being business-savvy and strategic.  Next week, we look at what it takes to be successful in development: are you a pitching winner or sinner?

Take an in-depth masterclass in development with Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch.

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