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

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?

Serious question then. How do you know if your idea is good or not? To me an idea might sound good but to someone else it will sound stupid. I'm sure when sharknado was thought of it didn't sound exciting. Maybe funny but how many people took it seriously?

I'm just trying to figure out if my chances of making writing/directing my career would be better if I tried going through a TV channel first instead of trying to make a feature film on my own and hoping it gets distributed. I don't mind working my way up. But that last question is a good one to think about.
 
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?

That's why I'm asking about this. I have ideas for low budget movies. So I'm wondering if my chances of having the movies made would be better if I approached a TV channel instead of trying to make it all on my own. To me scyfy looks for movies that provide escapism. A movie like sharknado isn't really made to make you think. It's just for entertainment.
 
The former vice president of a TV network and a fellow lawyer.

Maybe you didn't fully understand the context of his info? The economics of amateur filmmaking are very simple, I don't necessarily mean easy, just simple. The economics of commercial films and TV can be fairly simple but can also be extremely complex, there is no one way or one set of rules which always apply. What your friend told you was a generalisation, so broad as to be untrue a lot of the time. For example, Blockbusters are relatively low risk from the point of view that the vast majority of blockbusters at least make their money back. While low budget indie films (6 and 7 figure budgets) are high risk because the majority don't make their money back, completely the opposite to blockbusters, not the same economics at all. TV is a different kettle of fish again, or rather a bunch of different kettles of fish! TV revenues are more complex because it's not just about the sale value of the show itself but the value of the advertising revenues they generate. Some shows may have little resale value but still be profitable due to initial ad revenue. The BBC is interesting to look at because it has no advertising or initial airing revenue. Shows like "Top Gear" and "Dr Who" bring in revenues of very roughly $150m each a year purely from resale (licensing) to other countries/broadcasters. Over years that's probably over a billion per show essentially just from re-runs! Pretty impressive figures, even in comparison to initial theatrical runs of blockbusters, although again nothing is quite that simple because the published revenue for films is usually gross box office, not the actual revenue to the studios and also doesn't usually include the considerable income from TV sales later in the product's life cycle. Obviously though we're talking exceptions here, different networks have different economics and different types and qualities of shows. SyFy for example works on a completely different economic model to the BBC, it tends to license most of it's content and that content which it does own/commission tends to have little/no resale value, which is largely irrelevant to SyFy because it's revenue comes from NBCUniversal cable subscriptions across 170 or so countries and of course all the advertising.

If you seriously want to be a Mogul then you've really got to be familiar with the details of how the economics actually work, rather than just the odd sound-bite and applying generalisations of particular segments to the entire industry.

Serious question then. How do you know if your idea is good or not? To me an idea might sound good but to someone else it will sound stupid. I'm sure when sharknado was thought of it didn't sound exciting.

That's a good question and one which isn't easy to answer. Sharknado is a good example, I personally haven't seen it so I'm working on assumptions. It has a 3.3 IMDb rating from 30,000 people and by all accounts has a terrible script, acting and general execution. On the face of it, a very poor film and only someone completely lacking taste or consumed by the Dunning-Kruger Effect would think it a good idea. Regardless of how bad a film it is though, it's actually a very good/successful product. The danger here is trying to draw a direct relationship between an aesthetic judgement of the quality of the film and it's potential as a successful product. For example, the low quality writing, acting and general production values of Sharknado appear to be fairly easy to achieve and within the capabilities of many serious amateur filmmakers, even those with budgets far smaller than Sharknado's reputed $1m budget. The logical conclusion of many amateur filmmakers being: I can make a film of apparently similar or even better quality/standards and for a lot less, my film could therefore potentially make tens of millions as Sharknado did. This conclusion is neither logical nor realisable in practice, because it ignores a few crucial facts: Regardless of it's perceived quality, Sharknado is fully compliant with all broadcast specifications, regulations and guidelines and, aesthetically it works for it's target demographic on the principle that; "it's so bad, it's good". The two problems for most amateurs are therefore:

1. They generally have no idea of (or interest in) broadcast specs or regs, let alone any idea how to comply with them. This has a considerable impact on the equipment used, the workflows, personnel and therefore the time and cost of making the film.

2. Regardless of how good or bad a filmmaker thinks their film is (relative to say Sharknado), a film has to be the right kind of "bad" to be good and obviously also specifically targeted to the "so bad, it's good" demographic. It's more tricky than it appears to make a film which is so bad it's good because a film which is "so bad" doesn't automatically become good, the vast majority are just bad, period! Huge plot holes, bad dialogue and poor acting for example can be so bad they're good but slow/boring pacing can never be so bad that it's good, it's pretty much always just bad!

Knowing if your idea is good or bad is therefore not simple. It depends on a number of factors, such as; your target demographic, target distribution platform, cost to meet the technical and aesthetic expectations/requirements, the ratio of these costs vs realistic revenue projections and often numerous other subsidiary factors. Generally no one knows for certain but the best, most educated guesses are generally made by producers, not just anyone calling themselves a producer though, professional producers experienced in the production of commercial products for the specific demographic and distribution platform you are targeting. The further away from this level of knowledge/experience you go, the less useful/applicable their guesses are likely to be.

G
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
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That's why I'm asking about this. I have ideas for low budget movies. So I'm wondering if my chances of having the movies made would be better if I approached a TV channel instead of trying to make it all on my own. To me scyfy looks for movies that provide escapism. A movie like sharknado isn't really made to make you think. It's just for entertainment.
No. Your chances of having the movie made from your idea is not
better if you approached a TV channel instead of trying to make it
all on my own.

If you want to write scripts that make you think, then SyFy may
not be the TV channel to approach. You are right, they look for
movies that provide escapism. You need several finished scripts.
Not ideas for low budget movies - finished scripts.

So when will you finish that first script? Or is it already finished?
Are you ready to send it to the SyFy Channel? If you are I may be
able to help.
 
APE,

I do have a lot to learn still about TV, especially cable TV, and that market, as opposed to film, remains a good possibility. But I have been told that, while a Blair Witch project can make hundreds of millions from a budget of just $300,000, that would not be the case for TV - no program, for that amount of money, would generate that kind of payoff.
 
But I have been told that, while a Blair Witch project can make hundreds of millions from a budget of just $300,000, that would not be the case for TV - no program, for that amount of money, would generate that kind of payoff.

Even baring in mind that Blair Witch probably cost at least double what you've quoted, I still don't know of any TV shows which cost less than a mil and made hundreds of millions. However, TV budgets are not routinely published publicly as are Film budgets, so it is possible that there are some examples I don't know of. If there are any examples there can't be many of them and therefore, pretty much without exception, the TV shows which earn $100mil+ also cost a fair amount to produce. However, exactly the same is true of film!! In the last 90 odd years, I've only heard of 2 films which cost less than a mil and earned over a 100mil. Hardly a realistic basis for a business plan!

G
 
APE,

I do have a lot to learn still about TV, especially cable TV, and that market, as opposed to film, remains a good possibility. But I have been told that, while a Blair Witch project can make hundreds of millions from a budget of just $300,000, that would not be the case for TV - no program, for that amount of money, would generate that kind of payoff.


Even baring in mind that Blair Witch probably cost at least double what you've quoted, ....
G

According to wikepedia, blair withch cost $23k
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blair_Witch_Project

Not for all the reasons he's stated, but I agree with APE, that there's a lot of money in TV, and it seems to me, a lot more opportunity, for newcomers.

Edit: I just read the piece, and it says the final budget was more like $500k to 750k. It must have been added after the film was purchased.
 
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According to wikepedia, blair withch cost $23k

According to that Wikipedia article to which you linked: "After reshoots, a new sound mix, experiments with different endings, and other changes made by the studio, the film's final budget ended up between $500,000 and $750,000."

The exact quote from Sanchez (the joint director) is: "So the budget of what you saw in the theaters was probably $500,000 to $750,000."

G
 
According to that Wikipedia article to which you linked: "After reshoots, a new sound mix, experiments with different endings, and other changes made by the studio, the film's final budget ended up between $500,000 and $750,000."

The exact quote from Sanchez (the joint director) is: "So the budget of what you saw in the theaters was probably $500,000 to $750,000."

G

Yeah, I edited my comment regarding the budget number. But I think that number was arrived at after Artisan purchased the film (for $1mm if I remember correctly) and paid for the post production. Just my conclusion. I doubt, the original filmmakers had that kind of money.
 
I'm going to approach a couple of channels. One of the ways is through contacts. Over the last 4 years, have built some up and may now have a shot. Might not, but might do.
 
But I think that number was arrived at after Artisan purchased the film (for $1mm if I remember correctly) and paid for the post production. Just my conclusion. I doubt, the original filmmakers had that kind of money.

To quote some more from Sanchez: "Well, the original budget to get the film in the can was probably between $20,000 and $25,000. Then, once we got to Sundance to make a print and do a sound mix, we were probably more in the neighborhood of $100,000. And then once Artisan Entertainment bought the film, they put another half-million dollars into it. They did a new sound mix, and they had us re-shoot some stuff."

They paid for a new sound mix on The Blair Witch Project? But that movie sounded like pure shit!

According to the quote above, the filmmakers spent an undisclosed sum on a sound mix, probably somewhere around 20k or so and then Artisan Entertainment spent well into 6 figures for a completely new sound mix! It might be worth you reading some of my previous posts in this thread. There's a very significant difference between an amateur film with shit sound and a commercial sound mix which, due to the aesthetic of the film, is designed to give the impression of shit sound, even if both mixes superficially appear to sound very similar. For hobbyist filmmakers self distributing on say Youtube, this difference is irrelevant and therefore the planning, time, effort, equipment, workflows and cost of a commercial mix are largely avoidable/unnecessary but for commercial distribution, theatrical or TV broadcast, this difference is one of the differences between; a product which can be commercially distributed/broadcast and an amateur film which cannot!

G
 
but for commercial distribution, theatrical or TV broadcast, this difference is one of the differences between; a product which can be commercially distributed/broadcast and an amateur film which cannot!

G

Is a final stereo output commercially distributable? Do theatrical releases always have to be surround, or is stereo also okay. I understand that for a horror film, that surround would be preferable and more effective, but is there any rule that says that for theatrical distribution or for broadcast, audio must be in surround only? Just curious.
 
Do theatrical releases always have to be surround, or is stereo also okay.

No, stereo (LoRo) has never been a theatrical format, only a home consumer format. 3.0 (L, C, R) is the minimum theatrical format, although it's very rarely used. 5.1 should be considered the minimum theatrical format. Some independent arthouse cinemas will occasionally screen stereo films but they are the exception rather than the rule.

HDTV standard is also 5.1. Amateur, self-distributed or SDTV content are the only platforms where stereo is still the standard audio format.

G
 
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