So you’ve got an idea for a Reality TV Show? Broadcasters and Production Companies are always looking for new ideas and fresh takes on old ideas, so putting some work into your idea and trying to sell it isn’t as silly as seem people may think.
But there are a few steps to take in order to give you the best shot at success.
1. Find out if your show has already been made. There are a lot of shows out there and I’ve heard from more than one Development Executive that they regularly get pitched shows that already exist, simply because the person doing the pitching didn’t take the time to do their research.
2. Watch TV. If you want to Create a Reality Show out of your idea you need to know what you want the end product to look like. Saying “I want it to look completely different from anything out there” isn’t the best sales tool, and even if you DO want that, you need to watch TV to see how it compares to other shows.
3. There are different genres of Reality TV Shows. Ie: Occu-Soap, Docu-Soap, Competition, DIY, and the list goes on and on. Know what genre of show your show falls under. And know what shows yours is similar to, and know what makes it different when you compare it to shows already on the air.
4. Be prepared to highlight the original elements of your show. It will help when it comes to pitching it and with protecting your work legally.
5. Develop your idea into a show. It is not enough to develop your idea into just a One Sheet or a Sizzle Reel. If you want the Development Executives to take you seriously you need to be able to answer the question, “So what happens in your show”, with an answer that helps them envision one, two, and three or more seasons.
6. Develop three things: Characters, Settings, and Stories. These are the three things that, when combined, create a TV show. Make sure you don’t scrimp on your development in these areas as they can make or break your show.
7. Have a title that is indicative of what your show is about. Look through your TV Guide station and study what shows are named. It may surprise you how simple the titles are, AND, how difficult it can be to come up with a succinct, snappy Show Title.
8. Protect yourself legally. Register your show with the Writers Guild and don’t share the idea too much. Your temptation may be to tell anyone who will listen about your show. Keep it to yourself until you have something you can legally protect.
9. Research the Production Companies that make shows in the genre similar to yours. Your chances of getting a Development Executive to take a pitch meeting with you are better with a Prod. Co. than they are with a Broadcaster. Also, the Prod. Cos know what the Broadcasters are looking for and if your show needs some tweaking they will help you do that before it gets pitched to the Broadcasters.
10. Create your pitch materials that highlight the Characters, Settings, and Stories of your show. Have a One Sheet, Oral Pitch, and Elevator Pitch ready to go before you book any meetings. And don’t forget to have a Business Card with your name and contact info on it.
11. Be prepared to wait. Getting a show made can take a long time. Even with the shows that get made ridiculously fast it is still normally six to eight months from the time it is pitched to the Broadcasters until the shooting actually starts. But a normal time is a year or longer.
12. If you really want to go for it have more than one show ready when you go into Pitch Meetings. If you are in a meeting and your show isn’t really what they’re looking for, an Exec will normally ask, “Do you have anything else?” Even if you don’t think it’s as good idea as your first show idea, make sure it is developed enough to pitch. You never know what is going to resonate with the Execs.
13. Don’t give up. Once you’ve developed an idea into a pitch-able TV Show you’ll realize it’s not as hard as you thought it might be. And once you’ve pitched once, even if they didn’t love the ideas, if you brought them a well-developed idea they will know you create good work and most of them will happily take meetings with you again.
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