Saturday, February 13, 2010

TV Producer Talk

Yesterday I went and spoke with a friend of a friend who produces mainly TV series and TV movies (but also some features). He came from a business background, graduated from UCLA. But then switched over and began PA-ing. He did that for a year and then moved up to being an Associate Producer. He says he was sort of thown into the job and didn't really know what he was doing, but as they say..."fake it til you make it!" He now has an office on the Warner Bros lot.

He explained the process a pilot goes through to reach the air.

First step - find an awesome piece of material...this may come from a book or news article, or may just be cooked up in your head.

Next step, attach a writer. Since he is represented by WME, he goes to them first to try to attach a writer. If WME likes the concept, with the producer, they'll put together a package...this may include writers, actors, etc. Anything that would make the show attractive to a network. Packaging is SUPER important to agencies because when they bring a package to a network, they not only get a percentage from their clients but they also get a percentage of the show's budget and backend in the show. So this can mean big bucks for an agency.

June through August: Networks are open for pitches.

November: Scripts are turned in to the network for the shows they are possibly interested in.

December through January: Pilots are ordered by the network for approved scripts.

April through May: Networks look at the pilots and decide what they want to put on their line-up.

The smaller cable channels (ex. TNT, USA, etc.) don't follow the same schedule as the majors, they just ask for what they need at any particular the time frame will be different. One of the big differences between cable channels and the big networks is that networks tend to diversify more. Cable has niches...most of their shows are all similar in tone and feel. Networks (big and small) though have lost their edge right now for the most part. Most of what is being ordered falls in the category of either comedy or fantasy. This is what is selling at the moment and networks go with what has worked in the past. There is movement away from the TV movie, of which there used to be about 300 a year, now there is closer to 90, because it is the most expensive of TV entertainment to produce. Reality shows are the cheapest to make, then the 1/2 hour Comedy, followed by 1 hour drama, and finally the TV movie (usually 1-4 mil).

So that is a little overview of how the process works. If anyone is interested in seeing the 2010 pilot grid and scripts, I would be happy to share :)

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