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Thread: How do you present an idea for a show that has no script?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    How do you present an idea for a show that has no script?

    I have a pretty brilliant idea for a TV series. No, it's not just another reality show. It's a game show, but hear me out. I think it has the potential to be pretty mind-blowing and culture-changing. But how and where do you pitch something like this? If I had an idea for a movie, I'd write the script before I tried to sell the idea, to prove it has substance. If I had an idea for a TV drama series, I'd at least write the pilot. But what do you write for a show that has no script?

    Sorry if this is already covered in a sticky. I didn't see it.
    Last edited by morngnstar; 02-29-2016 at 10:49 AM.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    You'd probably try to get in to pitch it to a production company. Write up a treatment and see what prod.cos or syndicators do what you're thinking?

  3. #3
    Arranger Of Disorder WriteKnight's Avatar
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    Ideas are a dime a dozen. Seriously. And you can't copyright an idea - only the expression of it. So - you need to 'express' your idea as a well thought out script. OR a treatment - explaining in great detail - exactly how your great idea works. Then register it. THEN shop it to companies who might be interested in the concept.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    A Living Synecdoche NickIandolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WriteKnight View Post
    Ideas are a dime a dozen. Seriously. And you can't copyright an idea - only the expression of it. So - you need to 'express' your idea as a well thought out script. OR a treatment - explaining in great detail - exactly how your great idea works. Then register it. THEN shop it to companies who might be interested in the concept.

    Good luck.
    WhiteKnight is right.

    I once walked into a local TV station, during an open house, and met the Executive Director who was looking for new shows. Having some experience pitching screenplays to Hollywood execs and books to NYC literary agents, I knew that I could at least come up with something on the spot and pitch it like actually knew what I was doing (which is questionable at best! LOL!). Anyway, part of the pitch involved getting the exec. dir. an actual script—that I hadn't written yet.

    Two weeks later I wrote her up a script for a quirky faux-reality sci-fi news, comedy, and talk show.

    A few days later she called me in to her studio and said to me, "You are one ambitious guy!"

    She then bought the script and gave me a budget to actually produce it!

    It lasted for about two years on the station that had a San Diego Comic-Con episode as well!

    But I don't think I could have really sold the show without a solid script to prove it could be done.

    I remember an agent in Hollywood giving me some advice when pitching to other agents. It went like this:

    Agent: "You've got a great idea for a story. Pitch it."

    Me: "What if they want to see a script? What do I tell them?

    Agent: "Tell them you're in the middle of a re-write and you'll get it to them in a couple of weeks."

    Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. I pitched a screenplay idea to an agent that I basically made up earlier that day. Then when he asked for a script, I told him that I was in the middle of a re-write and that I'll get it to him in a couple of weeks. He said to me, "Great, send it when it's ready."

    Three weeks later he got it and really liked it. Unfortunately, he left the agency he worked for sometime shortly after that.

    It took me a year to track him down. When I did, he remembered the screenplay I sent him. Then he asked me the ubiquitous question all Hollywood agents ask, "What else have you got?"

    I sent him a bunch of ideas but nothing stuck.

    But I took that experience and used it to sell the TV show idea to a local station.

    Bottom line: always have a script ready or be ready to bang one out to back up your pitch.
    Nick Iandolo
    Author, Professional Writer, Journalist, Producer

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    "The eye that looks ahead to the safe course is closed forever."
    ~Paul Muad'Dib, DUNE

  5. #5
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    You'd probably try to get in to pitch it to a production company. Write up a treatment and see what prod.cos or syndicators do what you're thinking?
    This.

    You need a treatment and a full pitch, something visual you can put in front of producers, but you've got to have the means to get it in front of those people in the first place.

  6. #6
    If your idea is a reality show or a game show involving real live contestants (or anything like it, aka some format where the content derives from the audience, vid-feeds, news-stories, or location-shoots or whatever) ....you still have to write up all the typical pre-documentation that goes with a scripted show.

    Treatment, pilot, everything. You have to create a realistic-sounding fictional episode of the show, and make it sound legit even though in this one case it is a mere prototype. It just can't be evaluated, otherwise; and you'd be too open to thievery.

    Later--during a pitch--you'd then be able to explain to any interested parties how the show would actually rely on these other 'inputs'. But it doesn't matter if --once the show is aired--there are no ostensible scripts during the seasonal run. You're in the stage where you're trying to sell the idea in the first place, and you can only sell a script.

    Good luck to you

    Dinky

    p.s. one thing: 'culture-changing'? I advocate restraint using this kind of term. When has any movie or TV show ever changed culture?
    Last edited by dinky_dau; 10-22-2016 at 10:29 PM.

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Mr.Bohemian's Avatar
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    As said, ideas are a dime a dozen. Although you risk time and effort, develop your ideas in a medium as to deliver them. I'm politely laughing at you, what is a "mind-blowing" gameshow? Consider you demographic as your buyer would. There is funny/stupid shows that are easy to watch, then there is jeoprody.

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