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Development and Pitching 101: Getting the Greenlight

Photo by U-g-g-B-o-y-(-Photograph-World-Sense-) CC BY 2.0

So you’ve pitched your idea and a channel has expressed strong interest in commissioning your documentary or series. Congratulations! But you aren’t home and dry just yet. There are still many things that can go wrong before you sign on the dotted line:

  • The channel executive leaves for another job and the incoming executive doesn’t want to commission your programme
  • You lose your exclusive access to a story
  • Your main character dies before you can start filming with them
  • You can’t find a suitable host to front the show
  • An audience focus group gives your pilot the thumbs down

These things happen, but most can be prevented by driving the deal through as fast as possible by responding to channel requests for treatments and budgets immediately and keeping the lines of communication open with the channel.

Even if you get a ‘no’ or a ‘maybe’ from the channel all may not be lost – read  Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch to find out how to turn a negative or lukewarm response into a commission.

Here’s a quick recap:


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