Ask anyone how difficult it is to sell a TV series to networks, especially in today’s world of diminishing audiences that are looking for new entertainment options. But the market for television series is still quite strong thanks to TV pilot’s high quality, uniqueness, marketability and its franchise potential.
While most producers and TV writers do not have access to a reliable literary agent or have the money to produce a pilot or proof-of-concept product, there are websites that give access to network executives or script readers who can read your ideas. If they like it, they may invest in the concept and create a program that has potential. But it all comes down to the basics.
Write a Great Script
It all starts with the spec script. This is a script of the pilot or opening show that sets the stage for the series. You need originality in terms of the concept, but the basics of writing a hot spec script are still the same after all these years.
- Strong Characters
- Strong Conflict
- Satisfying Conclusion
The hook is what brings your audience in. It is what gets them to watch the show right from the start. But it is the characters that keep them watching. Combine that with a story that keeps the audience interested in the conflict that creates tension and finishes with a conclusion that makes them want more and you have a winning spec script.
Creating a Show Bible
It was a tool used by existing shows that offers guidance to new writers, so their material would match the theme, direction, and tone of the series. Today, the show bible is a selling tool to networks that otherwise might be risk-averse to take on projects despite their obvious potential.
In addition to creating a hot spec script that is exciting on its own. The Show Bible demonstrates the long-term potential of the series. It’s where the story created in the first script goes for the rest of the season, following seasons, and even the finale in some cases.
The more visual references you can use in the presentation, the more likely that executives and script readers will understand the concept. A good example is visual aids that provide the tone for the series. Using established actors as references for the characters being portrayed. For example, “I see a Bruce Campbell-type playing the lead role.” puts the image of the actor in the heads of executives and script readers. It helps them better understand the type of actor needed for the role.
When you set out to create a network series, you are essentially building a fictional world that audiences will enjoy visiting. This will be a part of your show bible, but you need to emphasize the characters, setting, and overall vision of the world you are creating will be to audiences.
Last, but not least is persistence. A successful show like “Stranger Things” was pitched almost two dozen times before it was finally picked up. So, if you have a good idea for a network series, do not give up on making it happen.