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Development and Pitching 101: How to Write a Nonfiction TV Proposal

Photo by jm3 CC BY SA 2.0

Once you’ve developed your idea you need to commit it to paper. Although you might be itching to pitch your idea verbally, the process of writing it down can really help to flush out the flaws in your concept.

Although the pitching process often starts with a conversation, at some point you will need to submit a proposal, or longer treatment, before a contract agreement can be made with a channel so they can see exactly what they are committing to. And having a detailed written proposal creates a paper trail if you ever feel your idea has been ripped off.

There is no ‘industry standard’ format for a proposal, but there are certain elements that all proposals must contain. If you neglect to fill in all the details, your proposal won’t even warrant a second glance.

To get started, take a look at:

How to Write a Proposal a TV Commissioner Will Actually Read

15 Steps to Writing an Impressive Non-Fiction TV Proposal

If you prefer to see examples of actual proposals, Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch contains five very different examples of nonfiction TV proposals: a proposal suitable for a general interview-led documentary; a science programme; a reality series; a multiplatform series and a rather unconventional, but successful, proposal for a travelogue.

Read more in this series:


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