3. Title Synopsis / Treatment
This is a detailed outline, typically 3 to 10 pages, depending on the genre, that tells the story of your series and concept as it plays out in both the pilot episode, and over the arc of the series. It will include a description of the “world” and premise of the series, the plight of your main character(s), and sample episode storylines. The content varies by genre, but we’ll break it into two main categories:
– The logline has explained the main premise and plight of your protagonist, and now this is where you drill in and bring the world their world to life. The key is to not be so detailed that it bogs down the reader, but to hit on all of the most critical beats in the episode or season you are detailing. This may include an outline of the Pilot episode (whether or not you have a script), an outline of a first season arc so we can see how the series evolves, and what the specific episode summaries are. Our article How-To-Pitch-A-TV-Show-Pilot-Script.asp
provides a full view of writing pitch treatments for scripted series.
– While the logline should detail the set-up or subject that is the focus of the series, when you dig in to write the synopsis you’ll most likely be writing what we’ll “potentially” or “ideally” witness in the series. Since much of these series’ are character focused, a majority of your synopsis should cover the main characters lives, habits, passions, pursuits, and conflicts. You can get a more expanded view by checking out our article on Create-Pitch-Reality-TV-Shows.asp
The Verbal Pitch | A meeting of the minds…
The Goal –
While you have no control over whether or not the Executive will connect with your pitch, what you do have control over is the single basic goal of the meeting. That is, to connect with them in like-minded creativity. One of the best things an executive can discover is a new writer or producer who knows how to think and make fresh and compelling choices. So even if you don’t sell the pitch for that particular project in the room, they’ll feel a “connection of the minds” and be open to new projects you deliver in the future. Or, in a best case scenario, they like the way you think so much that they’ll want to work with you in figuring out how the idea or story may work. It’s a combination of factors, but you MUST win them over by how you think and view things.
The Prep –
When you have a tightly written pitch that outlines the specifics of your film or treatment, it’s then time to practice pitching it off page. Know the logline cold. It’s short, and holds the most impact. It’s what sets their view on the project, and the words you’ve carefully crafted but be told exactly as is. But for the synopsis you’re going to have to train your thought process to follow the story beats, but not verbatim. You don’t want to memorize five or ten pages of text, so what you’re going to do is give an abbreviated walk-through of the story. Some of the specific wording or turn of a phrase you’ll remember, while most others you won’t. Take a drive, go for a bike ride, a run, a swim, or anything that allows you some focused solitude. When your mind is finally comfortable hopping through the obstacle course of your story, then do without the distraction of activity. Stand up, and give the pitch. Pitch your dog, pitch your kids, pitch your spouse. Let them interrupt you, and keep your momentum. You need to build a flexible muscle so you’re not walking into the room with a perfectly rehearsed robo-pitch that will be DOA. When your story is a part of you, then you can easily pitch it with the flexibility needed. You’ll be comfortable.
The Pitch –
Hopefully you’re pitching a project that will fill a void. Something we haven’t seen before. A subject they haven’t thought of before. But with an approach that gives it a highly unique perspective…your angle in. Know in your heart what makes the project special. Getting past the pleasantries, start your pitch with a cause. Right from the start hit them with a core question that will be the flashpoint for the pitch. Then you’re ready to share the logline with them. If you have the right project, they’ll want it to work. Their mind is then open to absorbing much of the details you’ll follow with as you walk them through the arc of the story, or the structure and content of the concept. Be prepared to be interrupted, and take it as your opportunity to engage with them. If it’s the right question, you’ll then become conspirators in figuring out how the story best works. Do not let the momentum die. Keep moving forward in the pitch. Also keep in mind, you’ll be on edge, excited, nervous to a certain degree…it’s common to race over details. This is often a great way to cut the fat out of the narrative and deliver just the essential facets of the story or concept. While nerves can sharpen your energy, they can also cloud your ability to “hear” what the executive may be saying (or not saying) to you during and after the pitch. You must listen. You’re not there to sell them. You’re there to serve them. If you listen and hear what they communicate, it may tell you more about what they want, rather than you only hearing that they don’t want yours. It’s a process. You’re building a collaborative relationship.
As the pitch wraps up and they’ve shared their view, always have one or two other projects in your hip pocket just to mention to them. They’ll tell you on the spot “sure, what are they”, or “follow up with that one”. It’s a way to keep the tone positive and moving forward.
The Follow-Up –
Only follow up when they specifically expressed an interest in the project. If they weren’t sure, or only spoke of issues, you’ll only be bugging them about a project they’re not interested in.
Another way to follow up isn’t to follow up asking if they want to engage on the project, but to follow up with a new project. It gives them the opportunity to address or share any determination of your original pitch, while no whipping a dead horse. At the very least their mind will open up to see if your new pitch is more viable.