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How to pitch scripted content

Missed our Film Victoria / ACMI session on Thursday? Missed finding out how the free to air scripted commissioners want you to pitch ideas to them?

Or read the notes we made for you!

Sally Riley, Head of Scripted Production, ABC

Tone is important. What is tone? It’s the feel - it could be noir, light, dark, gritty, light on its feet, heavy.

If I get a script and bible I’ll read the script first. I don’t like people who pitch me 10 shows at once – we’re not Hollywood. I want to know which show you want to make. If we’re going on this journey, it’s a two year journey, so we need to love the show and be able to work together. We need to have the same vision.

Rick Maier, Head of Drama and Executive Production, Network 10

The character breakdown is a useful writing tool but really I like reading the first episode. An audience will only give you 3 minutes to grab them, so I want to be grabbed by that first episode.

Please don’t pitch to me at a funeral…

Andy Ryan, Head of Drama, Nine Network

Here Come The Habibs – we almost decided to commission that show off the title. It was clear, strong, identifiable.

When you’re pitching what you’re actually doing is coaching us as to how we’re going to re-pitch it internally – I have to pitch it to many departments. If you haven’t given me a simple clear premise then how can I sell it on?

Know your audience and respect them.

And don’t say you don’t have a TV or you don’t watch TV!

Best pitch? Househusbands. That’s it. Says it all.

Todd Abbott, Head of Comedy, ABC

Make sure you don’t pitch something that already exists! If you use points of reference don’t use the obvious things - I don’t want the next Fleabag, I want the next great thing.

Be confident in your own idea; If you know and believe in your show you can sell it.

Most of us know within the first 2 mins if it’s for us.

If you’re doing pitch documentation make sure you have a clear exciting first paragraph, at this stage I don’t need you to have 17 pages with character breakdowns.

Amanda Duthie, Head of Scripted, SBS

It’s hard when lots of resources have been thrown on a bible and we’re already in development on a similar show; I’d rather people called me to check it out.

Covid has been development heaven; people have watched a lot more stuff and that comes across in the conversations I’m having with people. Many more people have stumbled across SBS on Demand and started watching the range of content on there.

Kyas Hepworth, Acting Head of NITV, Senior Commissioning Editor, SBS

Please make sure that you have watched NITV and content by black creatives; know the black Canon. Don’t come in and pitch something that wouldn’t relate to our audience.

When you can feel the heart of the creatives in the show that’s brilliant.

I love it when someone has thought about a finance plan - it’s really important.

Libbie Doherty, Head of Children's Production, ABC

We often get pitches from first timers so we try to have an inclusive environment; we know it can be so scary to pitch. We want you to do the best pitch you can do.

Think of a pitch as the beginning of the conversation, it’s building a relationship with us. If you pitch to us regularly you’ll get to know us.

I’ve got development execs and two great commissioning execs – pick up the phone and talk to us, start to develop that relationship; so few people do and you really should.

Also please don’t turn up in a pirate suit with a band and start playing and don’t bring the puppet and get it to pitch for you!

#RunningFreeLive is produced by Media Mentors with the support of Film Victoria and ACMI. It runs on the first Thursday of the month and features an incredible line up of industry insiders from the TV world. You can watch all the episodes on the ACMI YouTube channel.

Following each panel is a zoom networking room where you can speak directly to the panel guests – a perfect opportunity to connect to the decision makers of the Australian TV production world.

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