Hope you’re having a great week!
I wanted to pop in and answer a question that has come up recently as I’ve been talking about upcoming markets EFM and MIPTV - people want to know if producing an independent pilot is advisable in trying to set up a series.
Short answer is No - there’s no real model for selling independently produced pilots or series to streamers and networks.
There are a few exceptions to that but generally speaking, I don’t advise spending resources on independently producing a TV pilot hoping you will entice a streamer or network to commission an entire series.
What I do advise on occasion though, in cases where you have the funds and would like to visually express your concept, is to produce a proof of concept trailer - sometimes that’s a couple minutes long, sometimes a little longer - but particularly for newer directors if you want to ‘prove your chops’ in a given genre then that could be a good tool in your arsenal.
But like all development assets, it’s an investment that you may or may not get ROI from if the series doesn’t go forward, so just be aware of that.
On the other hand, I’ve seen filmmakers produce short films or web series that serve as proof of concepts for bigger series ideas. The beauty of these formats is that they can stand on their own in festivals and serve dual-purpose that way - so you may be able to get a two-for-one if you can also cross collateralize a short or web series as a proof of concept for something bigger (whether it’s a feature or series).
It also depends on the genre - unscripted and doc series concepts are obviously less expensive to produce than scripted ones. For my own scripted series I tend to invest in developments assets like pitch decks, treatments, other written and visual pitch materials, but I haven’t gone the route of producing scripted proof of concept videos yet. For unscripted series, I’ve gone as far as producing teasers and even a low cost pilot once, but none of them went anywhere, and I’ve since gone back to focus solely on scripted series for my TV slate.
Bottom line is this - if you are developing a series or want to go to market with one, I wouldn’t spend resources on shooting an indie pilot and instead focus on developing written and visual assets and then patterning with the right writers/producers/companies who can get it in front of buyers and stand out amongst all the noise.
I’ll go into more detail later on this last part - getting it in front of buyers - which these days isn’t a straightforward submission to the streamers, rather putting together a patchwork of co-production partners.
TV Essentials redux?
In the past I had a TV Essentials course that delved into the nitty gritty of this whole process but it’s due for an update, and if schedule allows I might consider doing some version of this course again next year with all the updated information.
In the mean time, I’m coaching a handful of members through the process in the FS Pro group, as well as posting up resources that are relevant to series development and pitching to potential partners and buyers.
If you’re interested in getting in on this, check out the FS Pro details and apply here.
As always, I’m taking your questions below too! Please feel free to leave a comment or question and I’m happy to point you in the right direction if I can.
On that note, I’ll put a wrap on things for today. Hope you have a wonderful day ahead and speak to you again soon…
To your success,