I’ve spent a lot of time talking about creating pitches, and not sharing points on your show, and what to look for in option agreements, but let’s go back. Waaay back to a time when all there was was an idea.
For those of you just starting out you may only have a rough idea for a TV show – an idea so vague that you can’t really describe it. That is great, but before you start practicing your logline on your friends and family you need to figure out what your show is.
Sure you’ll probably want to tell people you’ve had an idea for a TV show. And you’ll probably want to tell them you’re going to try to write it.
But, the inevitable question they are going to ask is “So what’s your show about?”
And this is when you must beg off. Now is not the time to answer that question – because you won’t know yet. Oh sure, you’ll have a general notion of it, possibly even with some specifics. But if you’re friends are truly interested they will have more questions than you will answers. And that can produce two unwanted results.
First, it can derail the confidence and support you will need from your friends and family.
Not because they are bad or unsupportive, but, at this point you are probably not known for being able to create a TV show – because you’ve never done it before. So it is typical for friends and family to ask a lot of questions, most of them with good intentions, that will eventually lead them to believe that you don’t know how to write a show – because at this point you don’t.
But you are going to learn. Just like I did. Just like everyone did the first time. But you do not need your support group trying to “help” you by saving you time and money and energy and what they may see as the possibility of lots of hard work for nothing.
Second, it can derail your confidence in yourself. This is a tough undertaking and until you have proved to yourself that you can get the ball rolling you might want to keep it to yourself.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t tell people you’ve had an idea for a show and that you are working on it. I’m saying don’t tell them the idea.
The idea will take time to flesh out. And even after that it will take you time to be able to deliver a description of it that makes sense without you needing five minutes to describe it.
And, you need time to do other research as well so that you are ready when your support group (friends and family) starts asking questions like “Well wasn’t this other show just like yours?” Or “Don’t the TV show companies already have people to create shows?” or “So what do you know about writing a TV show? Don’t you need some sort of experience or a degree or something?”
Do not underestimate the importance of this support group. They can make or break you in your bid to successfully write a show. You will find they can distract you with their “truths”. With their well-meaning “insights”
You will need to manage this group. So be careful what you tell them so that they truly can help you get there.
And one of the ways to do that in the very beginning is to answer the question “So what’s your show about?” with a straight up answer “You know? At this point it is a pretty rough idea. Once I’ve had some time to flesh it out I would love you to tell you all about it.” Quick and simple.
And when you’re ready to tell them, they will be impressed by how much you know and probably wonder how little ol’ you knows how to do all that.