You have the opportunity to pitch a reboot of the iconic show Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the head of programming at Amazon Prime.
- You will be the executive producer of this show, but first you must convince Amazon your idea will attract the 18 to 49-year-old demographic advertisers covet the most.
- You have a 10-episode commitment from Amazon.
Your pitch will come in five parts:
- 1. A core concept.
a.If there’s one thing that can make or break a TV pitch, it’s the Logline. Producers know it all comes down to marketing the core premise and plot of the script or idea. The two or three sentences written as a Logline distilled from the full screenplay or TV format needs to deliver the core idea and provoke intrigue. A captivating logline can trigger the reader to see the potential for entertainment value and want to see that TV series or movie made. They’ll want that script or treatment to work. It gets them emotionally invested”. And that’s always a great way for any producer to dive into a script or treatment pitched.
i.Another value of a great logline is how well it “travels.” A producer pitches an executive and that executive pitches their boss. That one or two sentence idea becomes the catalyst for every step in the process of development, pitching, producing, and ultimately marketing to the viewers and audiences. Those few sentences are a point of departure for the full story, but they remain the touchstone for everything to serve that core idea.
1.Here’s some professional advice on writing and pitching loglines that sell:
a.Television shows can be marketed to the public with taglines that sound compelling, but they don’t give the details required when pitching to sell a project.
i.”In a world where justice has failed, one woman fights to expose the truth!” is an example of the type of “poster tagline” we might see, but it gives us more of the theme of the show, rather than the actual story.
b.When writing and pitching a logline for a new television show, the one-liner can still have clever wording, but needs to be much more explicit:
i.”In the years that follow a zombie apocalypse, a group of survivors led by a former police officer, travel in search of a safe and secure home. But it’s their interpersonal conflicts that present a greater danger to their survival than the zombies that roam the country.”
c.That example tells us the specific premise, the world the story explores, and the specific plight of our main character or characters…in one sentence. It’s enough information for a reader to know if they like the subject and story, and if so, their mind will be open to reading more. Also, in reading more they’ll have a sense for where the story goes and will be better equipped to know if the right choices were made for how the story unfolds.
b.A Show Outline.
i.After you hook them with a logline, they need to see your showâ€™s outline. The outline is an important part of how to write a profession TV show description because it adds more information to your log line. A good outline shouldn’t be more than 400 words and should tell the reader what the broader parts of the story will be.
- 2. Characters.
a.There are plenty of details that are necessary as in
vi.Social status, emotional status and physical status
vii.Strengths, weaknesses, obsessions, habits, dislikes, gestures and so on.
b.List characters by first and last name.
1.Cast the characters Buffy, Rupert, Willow, Xander, Angel and Spike. Add two characters that are villans.
2. You can keep the character descriptions from the original series, or
a.Introduce one or more minority characters
i.Can be by race, a LGBTQ character, etc.
a.Bottom line: Superheroes are big now! How can you capitalize on this popularity with Buffy yet remain true to the characters and storyline?
b.If you are going to introduce a variation on a character or characters, be prepared in this section to defend why you are moving away from the original concept.
c.If you are keeping the characters intact, explain why.
- 3. Cast:
a.Suggest current actors in their mid to late 20â€™s to fill the character roles for this show.
i. A good starting place for your research is IMDb (Internet Movie Database). This is a huge database of actors past and present.
i.Supply solid reasoning as to why each actor fits the role you assigned and what makes that actor a good choice.
ii.Treat this seriously, as an executive determining the fate of your show would.
iii.You have a limited thespian budget for this show. Soâ€¦
1.Avoid casting an actor who is a current major movie star.
a.Consider: Why would Chadwick Boseman, who has earned rave reviews for playing characters as diverse as Thurgood Marshall and Black Panther, commit to a show when he can now name the motion picture he wants and his salary?
i.What about original stars such as Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and Alyson Hannigan (Willow)? If you bring one or more back, what characters would they play? They played popular characters in the original series.
ii. If you elect to bring back original actors, they would be in addition to your six main characters.
iii.What about recording artists such as Drake (Degrassi; TNG), Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) and Ariana Grande (Victorious), who have acting credits from early in their careers but now concentrate on their music? Not likely, once again, because each focuses on their recording careers and the 10-episode commitment you are requiring.
2.Look at current shows you binge-watch or watch every week and look up their profile in IMDB to see if they qualify by age.
a.Good current examples would be Eden Sher and Charlie McDermott of The Middle. Also, Nina Dobrev, who played Elena in The Vampire Diaries. Or Ninaâ€™s good friend, singer/dancer/actress Julianne Hough.
3.Think about shows on Disney and Nickelodeon or another childrenâ€™s sitcom show you faithfully watched as a child. Many of those actors are in their 20â€™s now and might fill your character descriptions.
4.You canâ€™t use the reason â€œI know them personally,â€ unless you have a signed affidavit from the actor claiming you know this person.
- 4. A Sample Scene.
a.This will be a 3-minute scene, featuring at least four and up to six of your characters, in dialog for your show.
b.Here is a sample script. Remember, you only need to write for three minutes, but follow this format.
c. An action sequence is a good idea.
i.Once you write a script, get as many of your friends together to act out the scene. Have them present the scene in front of a small audience: At least one audience member should be in the targeted demo, one should be a Buffy fan.
1.Your audience can give you a critique on your script and, perhaps, suggest changes to make the scene funnier, make sense, be true to the characters, etc.
ii.Bottom line: You are rebooting Buffy, so it should be visually appealing, adventurous and make people laugh.
- 5. Future Episode Short Pitches.
- Two to three sentence paragraphs outlining plotlines for future episodes.
- These short pitches may be where you include special guest stars (must list the actor by name).