january q aI received the following email the other day and thought I would share it, and my suggestions to the sender, with you.

There are a lot of “opportunities” out there where companies are willing to “help” develop your show for you. All you have to do is sign over the show to them and they’ll “take it from here”.

I’m not suggesting whether this is right or wrong (this is me covering my ass) but I’ve always thought the best way to get my show made is to develop it as thoroughly as I can hang before I have to sign the rights away. The show stays truer to my vision, and I get a better deal.

Here’s the email:
I just received a reply from a production studio. They are willing to assist in the development of my game show idea. For $1,200 CAD this studio will do the following:
1.     Preparation of the Story Bible
2.     Preparation of the Business Plan
3.     Prepare the Budget
4.     Prepare the Schedule
5.     Create the Marketing pitch package
6.     Complete a Broadcaster assessment
Also, if I sign an agreement, they will become my production company of record and will handle all broadcaster sales retaining a portion of intellectual rights and revenue.

I was happy to get his email, because I think he is very smart to be asking questions.

Paying a company to do all that work seems sort of reasonable, however, I personally am not a fan of giving up a portion of my prospective earnings to have someone else do the work for me. One of the problems with signing over a portion of your show for services rendered is you cannot guarantee the quality or direction of the company’s work. And once you’ve signed, there are no do-overs.

I can certainly not attest to the credibility of the company he is asking about but here are some questions I would ask in a situation like this:

What other shows they have produced? How many hours of aired content have they produced? Do they tend to produce a specific genre or are their productions quite broad in nature? What Broadcasters are they on a first name basis with? And which person or people at which Broadcasters would they take it to?

From that info you should able to see if they produce shows that are similar to yours. They don’t have to be the same as yours but if all they produce is talk shows they may not be right for your game show.

How much creative control will you retain over what they are developing “for you”? What are your options if they are taking the show in a direction you don’t like?

Can you be guaranteed an Executive Producer role or credit or Created By credit on the show? If so what will your fees be? If they want to make this deal they should be able to answer those questions.

What do they mean by prepare a schedule? Every show is different depending on budget, and most importantly, the calendar the Broadcaster attaches to the project.

(If you’re not aware the Broadcaster sets the calendar by saying something like: “We love it. It’s green-lit. We want ten episodes. The first one will air June 10th.” The production company then builds a calendar around those parameters.)

I worked on two massive shows last year and the schedules looked nothing alike. The first one had five months prep – the second had two months. The first one had three months shooting – the second had nearly five. And the amount of Post-Production time we had to deliver Episode I for the first show, was the same amount of time we had to deliver all ten episodes for the second. So you see it’s not quite as cut and dry as “We’ll make a Schedule for you”.

I would also be concerned about turning over your intellectual rights and revenue this early in the game. Again, if they are providing a service for $1200 that is one thing, but to turn over rights and thus, future revenue, seems premature.

Rather than signing over part (or all) of my shows I prefer doing the work myself (even if it takes longer because I have to learn how it’s done) because I will retain more of the vision I hold for my show and I will be able to strike a much better deal financially when the show is more developed than if I bring on partners now and have them do the work.

I would move very slowly on this, ask lots of questions, AND seeking legal advice from an entertainment lawyer. It’ll cost you a bit of money now but better that than a lot later.

Your best bet is to be as informed as possible and not shy away from learning the business of the business. Nobody ever got the best deal by signing away rights to save time.

If you have any questions you would like to see addressed simply click here  http://iwanttomakeatvshow.com/contact-us/ and send it in.

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