tv Has anyone ever tried approaching a TV channel like scy fy?

I'm wondering if anyone has ever tried to approach a tv channel with a screenplay or a movie already made. Would your chances of getting work be greater? Would it be just as hard as trying to get a movie made with a major studio?
 
I'm wondering if anyone has ever tried to approach a tv channel with a screenplay or a movie already made. Would your chances of getting work be greater? Would it be just as hard as trying to get a movie made with a major studio?

Not greater.. just as hard, yes.

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Not greater.. just as hard, yes.

AFAIK, no major broadcasters or studios accept unsolicited material, so an agent or some sort of contact who can get you through the door is always required. Once past this initial step, Sci-Fy and other TV channels are easier than the major studios, not "just as hard"! "Easier" is a relative term though, the vast majority of micro-budget indie films are not made to the specifications or requirements of broadcasters.

G
 
So I should get an agent then. I was just wondering this since to me it seems it should be easier to sell a movie or screenplay to a channel like scyfy. It's not like they're looking for the next revolutionary movie or something.
 
So I should get an agent then. I was just wondering this since to me it seems it should be easier to sell a movie or screenplay to a channel like scyfy. It's not like they're looking for the next revolutionary movie or something.

Thing is though, you still need someone, likely more like a Producer, who can work with you on preparing your pitch so that you can get all of your ducks in a row, and know what you're going into.

Do you literally want to just sell the idea off for a lump sum with residuals if it turns into something more later, or are you wanting to get involved with the development and execution as well if they purchase it? I'm not sure how that all works either, but something to consider.

I mean, how do you know if your idea is really all that good or not? Because if your idea is just an idea, and not even a full script, and if it's not much better than what Syfy does anyway, then it's probably something just about anybody could think of, really. So why should Syfy want to buy an idea from you if they can come up with it themselves?

What is it about your idea, specifically, that will make it worth their while to pick up?
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
So I should get an agent then. I was just wondering this since to me it seems it should be easier to sell a movie or screenplay to a channel like scyfy. It's not like they're looking for the next revolutionary movie or something.
Never underestimate the need for low budget projects. To you they are
not looking for the next revolutionary movie. To them they are. They
are looking for the next “Sharknado” - something that will spawn sequels
and generate a lot of money. Something that to them is the next
revolutionary movie.

In many ways it's harder to sell them a movie or screenplay because
they are so specific in what they are looking for. Come to them with
“Mr Holmes” and you will never sell it. Come to them with a high budget
smart, complex sci-fi thriller and you won't sell it. You need to know
what they are looking for and meet their needs exactly.

If you feel you have a script that exactly meets the needs of the SyFy
Channel then get yourself and agent and pitch to them. They get well
over 1,000 submissions a month so you're script really needs to stand
out. Do you have that script?
 
Never underestimate the need for low budget projects. To you they are
not looking for the next revolutionary movie. To them they are. They
are looking for the next “Sharknado” - something that will spawn sequels
and generate a lot of money. Something that to them is the next
revolutionary movie.

Interesting - tell me more about the need for low-budget movies. :)
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I mean, how do you know if your idea is really all that good or not? Because if your idea is just an idea, and not even a full script, and if it's not much better than what Syfy does anyway, then it's probably something just about anybody could think of, really.

My best idea for a feature film, everyone time I tell someone my 10 second pitch they get really impressed and excited and say that's great and it's never been done before! And then they start saying more ideas on how to play with the concept.

If you have a really great idea you'll know!
Like being a stand up comedian.. if you've got a killer joke it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. everyone will always crack up loudly every time you tell it.
 
If you have a really great idea you'll know!

As a generalisation, from my observations of the amateur/indie filmmaking scene, I would disagree! Individual amateur filmmakers know what they personally like (genre, style, etc.), what is within their resources and what would be fun to make. A "really great idea" is therefore one which simultaneously fulfils all these requirements. This is a hobbyist approach to filmmaking though! Not that there's anything wrong with filmmaking as a hobby but the industry doesn't give two hoots what a hobbyist's personal opinion of a "really great idea" is, what is within their resources, how much fun it is to make or how well they've done with what they had! Broadcasters are interested in things like; target demographics, how a film/show fits into their schedule, repeatability, potential for further development/spin-offs, marketability to their viewers AND advertisers, appeal to wider territories, meeting QC requirements, cost vs revenue, etc. In other words, a completely different notion of what is "a really great idea"!! The chances of a hobbyist's approach/idea aligning with what broadcasters actually want, are tiny. Successful makers of broadcast content (and there are many!), work the other way around: They understand the broadcast market, know/identify what broadcasters want and design and make products to fulfil those requirements.

Unless you have a good understanding of the market and of designing and making products for that market, I don't believe you will know you have a "really great idea".

G
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
As a generalisation, from my observations of the amateur/indie filmmaking scene, I would disagree! Individual amateur filmmakers know what they personally like (genre, style, etc.), what is within their resources and what would be fun to make. A "really great idea" is therefore one which simultaneously fulfils all these requirements. This is a hobbyist approach to filmmaking though! Not that there's anything wrong with filmmaking as a hobby but the industry doesn't give two hoots what a hobbyist's personal opinion of a "really great idea" is, what is within their resources, how much fun it is to make or how well they've done with what they had! Broadcasters are interested in things like; target demographics, how a film/show fits into their schedule, repeatability, potential for further development/spin-offs, marketability to their viewers AND advertisers, appeal to wider territories, meeting QC requirements, cost vs revenue, etc. In other words, a completely different notion of what is "a really great idea"!! The chances of a hobbyist's approach/idea aligning with what broadcasters actually want, are tiny. Successful makers of broadcast content (and there are many!), work the other way around: They understand the broadcast market, know/identify what broadcasters want and design and make products to fulfil those requirements.

Unless you have a good understanding of the market and of designing and making products for that market, I don't believe you will know you have a "really great idea".

G


If you keep it to yourself and you never tell anyone I would agree with this.
But if you've told the idea to 20 different friends and all 20 absolutely love it then I'd think you're on to something. Just like a stand up comedian doesn't need to know about demographics and business studies, if they have performed at 20 different clubs and one joke kills in every club regardless of the type of audience.. then that joke is a great joke.


Now yes film is more complicated. there are things like how much does the idea cost to make. does it need a movie star to market it. so i can't completely disagree with what you're saying. But there is something to be said if you can walk into a room of people give a 10 second speech and make everyone really excited.
 
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But if you've told the idea to 20 different friends and all 20 absolutely love it then I'd think you're on to something.

Unless you're talking about a hobby, it's not about what you and your mates think is a good idea. If those 20 different friends are all TV execs or established commercial TV producers, then I'd definitely agree with you but if they're not, then the only thing "you're on to" for sure, is at least 20 views on youtube!

To know what is a good idea or not, you have to have a pretty good understanding of the products the market is after and the economics of making those products. Unless your friends have this knowledge, their opinion isn't worth much, except in what might garner views on essentially free distribution platforms. In other words, what you or your friends think might make a good film is irrelevant: a good film isn't necessarily a good product and a bad film is not necessarily a bad product. Understanding the difference between a film and a product is crucial!

G
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
It's not just 20 youtube views. It's 20 people that love the idea so much they would all for sure share it with everyone else they know.

It's a special thing to have an idea that everyone you tell about it loves and many films are successful due to this type of distribution. My big fat greek wedding I think had some grassroots success.

What you're describing is the difference between and artist and a businessman, and this is a business yes. But it's a business where the customers seek out art. Or at least really compelling, entertaining stories - Let's not debate if that is "art" or not. It's certainly a talent.
 
It's a special thing to have an idea that everyone you tell about it loves

As an amateur/hobbyist filmmaker, yes, I completely agree with you. That still doesn't make it relevant to the industry though!

It's not just 20 youtube views. It's 20 people that love the idea so much they would all for sure share it with everyone else they know.

Great, that's 200 youtube views then. Even 2,000 views is completely irrelevant to the TV industry, even 2,000,000 might be! Let's take your own example:

Just like a stand up comedian doesn't need to know about demographics and business studies, if they have performed at 20 different clubs and one joke kills in every club regardless of the type of audience.. then that joke is a great joke.

It might be a great joke but even if it is a great joke, it might be a terrible TV product! I've heard quite a few club comedians, in most cases their routines would have to be partially or completely changed to work as a TV product. If a club comedian doesn't know about TV products, doesn't educate themselves, hire writers who are experienced in the medium and create routines which are designed for TV, the chances are that they will never get aired. It doesn't matter how great the joke is to those who frequent comedy clubs, if it alienates a particular broadcaster's target demographic, their advertisers or worse still, if it's against some technical broadcasting rule or guideline.

What you're describing is the difference between and artist and a businessman, and this is a business yes. But it's a business where the customers seek out art.

No it's not! It's a business where TV broadcasters sell advertising time by targeting those demographics which are attractive to commodities manufacturers. Art may or may not have anything to do with it, as the products sold using TV advertising may or may not be aimed at those who have any interest in art, however you define "art".

G
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
No it's not! It's a business where TV broadcasters sell advertising time by targeting those demographics which are attractive to commodities manufacturers. Art may or may not have anything to do with it, as the products sold using TV advertising may or may not be aimed at those who have any interest in art, however you define "art".

G

You're right of course. I forgot we were in a thread about a TV channel and not talking about film :lol:

Well I think an intelligent person has a decent chance of figuring out what sells. You can take an educated guess as to whether or not you have a marketable product. They should definitely consider those angles when evaluating their idea.
 
You can take an educated guess as to whether or not you have a marketable product.

By definition you can't take an "educated guess". By definition, to take an "educated guess" you need to have some sort of education, without that education/knowledge all you can do, at best, is make an uneducated guess!!

Making uneducated guesses about what is a product (as opposed to an amateur film) and what is a marketable product, is arguably the most major reason why so many aspiring filmmakers find it so hard to cross that line between amateur and commercial/professional!

G
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
By definition you can't take an "educated guess". By definition, to take an "educated guess" you need to have some sort of education, without that education/knowledge all you can do, at best, is make an uneducated guess!!

Making uneducated guesses about what is product (as opposed to an amateur film) and what is a marketable product, is arguably the most major reason why so many aspiring filmmakers find it so hard to cross that line between amateur and commercial/professional!

G

I'd say it's the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect
People are too stupid to know how dumb they really are, and they're too unskilled to know how skilled they aren't. They think their ideas are good when in reality they aren't.
 
I'd say it's the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect
People are too stupid to know how dumb they really are, and they're too unskilled to know how skilled they aren't. They think their ideas are good when in reality they aren't.

I think the Dunning-Kruger Effect does wholly explain some amateur filmmakers but only partially explains most. I think most amateur filmmakers are only interested in shooting films and have little or no interest in all the additional knowledge, planning, organisation and skills required to make a product. This is the very definition of a hobbyist! Again, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobbyist filmmaker, problems only arise when hobbyist filmmakers want to effectively become professional hobbyist filmmakers because, when it comes to narrative filmmaking, there isn't really any such thing as a professional hobbyist filmmaker! To stand any realistic chance of being a professional filmmaker requires converting from making hobbyist films into making products but as they have no knowledge of, or interest in making products, they are trapped in a vicious circle of judging how "great" their ideas are by the criteria of hobbyist filmmaking, regardless of the fact that in some cases, it's very serious, dedicated and talented hobbyist filmmaking!

G
 
Sfoster,

I was told that TV shows are less risky, but they don't offer the potential rewards that film can offer.

In a related vein, various ST fan groups have made their own series, hoping to pitch to Paramount and get the go-ahead for a real TV series, but the studio hasn't picked up on any yet.
 
I was told that TV shows are less risky, but they don't offer the potential rewards that film can offer.

I'm not sure who told you that. TV shows can make hundreds of millions of profit, even hundreds of millions of profit per year and the TV industry is worth many times what the film industry is worth because there are so many shows which make tens of millions in profit. The majority don't make a profit though, many get cancelled, many more don't get much past the pilot or first few episodes stage and countless more don't even get that far. So as for being less risky, maybe but I don't know the figures or how they compare.

G
 
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