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Unit 2 - The Perfect Pitch

A visual guide to creating a television show pitch.
by

Avery Mangahas

on 22 February 2013

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Transcript of Unit 2 - The Perfect Pitch

MOPED ARMY The Perfect Pitch Logline: Self-taught moped mechanics and childhood friends open a scooter shop and try for success despite numerous distractions in the form of pranks, video games, no business experience, tumultuous friendships, crazy landlords, and, well, life. OVERVIEW Four self-taught moped designers and engineers have decided to get serious and turn their casual interest into cash; they’ve opened a scooter shop. Now we’ll track them in their first year open for business. Can these natural jokesters buckle down and run a successful shop? Or will their attention, cash flow, and patience run out too soon?

Tom got interested in mopeds a few years back, and, despite never even riding a motor cycle, taught himself how to build one. His casual interest slowly took over, until he was hanging around shops nearly every night of the week. That’s when he realized maybe he should get his own. He taught his best friend from childhood, Dick, everything he knew (which wasn’t that much), talked him into pooling resources, and the two opened MOPED ARMY, their new vintage bike shop.

Now, they’ll have to stick together and figure out a way to make their little shop a neighborhood staple. EPISODES "He's one wheel short of a bike" CHARACTERS Tom handles the mechanics, doing most of the engine work. He and Dick have been friends since childhood, and even room together now (above the scooter shop). He’s 110% committed to MOPED ARMY, and he’ll do anything to keep it going. That kind of pressure can make a guy pretty jumpy... SUMMARY Now you have the basic building blocks of a pitch. Every pitch will be a little different, and depending
on the show you may include other elements, such as a family tree or a glossary. But in general logline, overview, characters and episodes are the foundation of the perfect pitch.
pitch (n.): a presentation or proposition, usually employed in explaining and selling a business idea. Pitches are indispensable to making television. In order to get a show on the air, it must be bought by a network for distribution. In order to be bought by a network, a production company must pitch the show idea. They create a standard brief that explains exactly what the show will be and present it to a network. A bad pitch means the network will pass and the idea will die. A great pitch means the idea will become a television show. And a great pitch is made up of a few essential elements. Here's an example The first, and perhaps most important part of a pitch is the logline. The logline is a one, two or three sentence blurb that sums up the entire premise of a show. The logline is the first thing a network sees, and it must GRAB you. If a logline is boring, chances are the show is boring too. On the other hand, you can probably still sell a boring show if you have a really great logline. The next element of a pitch is the Overview. Here you write three or four paragraphs that introduce the show in more detail. This is where you flesh out the logline (that you spent so many hours perfecting into the fewest words possible). Why did a random guy move in with two hot young ladies (Three's Company)? Why are there a bunch of gourmet chefs cooped up in a kitchen together (Top Chef)? Good shows, like good novels, begin in the middle. The Overview catches the network up on what happened before the beginning. TOM the Dictator DICK the Artist Where Tom is the brain, Dick is the heart of the shop. He knows next to nothing about engines, but he’s a whiz with a paint brush. Or an airbrush. Dick does most of the designs for the bikes at MOPED ARMY. He’s a laid back guy--sometimes too laid back, if you ask Tom. Can their friendship survive the stress of running a business together? Or will Dick crumble under the pressure, like the fragile, artistic flower that he is? HARRY the Prankster Tom and Dick met Harry when they needed an extra roommate--that’s right, Harry is from Craigslist. He’s loud, strange, and doesn’t give a frack. He’s also a brilliant mechanic. Tom hired him in the shop to help out a few days a week. But between the time wasting and the pranking, he might not be worth it... BRYAN the Finder Bryan is another friend of Tom and Dick’s--and also lives with them. Unfortunately, Bryan is hopeless in the garage. He does know his way around a computer (he placed the ad that brought them Harry), so the guys look to him when they need rare, hard-to-find, parts for their vintage bikes. He’s the Master of Craiglist around these parts. The next step is to introduce the characters. All good television shows, scripted and reality, have great characters. Plot isn't that important if you have interesting enough characters. It's a good idea to give each person a title that encapsulates their role on the show. Include a picture, and a few lines about their personality. Try to emphasize their relationships with other characters; this will drive plot. An essential element of a pitch is episode ideas. This is a list of potential episodes that give the flavor of the show. Is it a family sitcom? A procedural drama? A process show? This list should make that clear. Potential episodes also show that your television show has legs - that it's repeatable. A show needs to last for potentially many seasons, so it's good to show you have enough material to fill that much air time. A local Boston man comes in with his unicycle - he wants an engine attached. Tom and Dick collaborate (and argue) about how to make this uni go, without making it look terrible. Meanwhile, Harry decides Bryan needs more of a life, so he takes him out for a night on the town that turns into a "The Hangover" style nightmare. Your episodes should have an "A" story (the main plot) and a supporting "B" story. Some episodes even have a tiny "C" story. This episode has an A (Tom and Dick) and a B (Harry and Bryan). So what are you waiting for? Go develop some television!
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