I have an idea for a sitcom that could work as a viable project. Family based the characters are based on real life people that are each unique in their own way etc.
I have a synopsis written out and detailed character descriptions..where do I go from here? What do I need to submit? I know that I need to register with the WGA...but looking for any advice, I'm reading too many conflicting opinions and need to know what the proper way to go about this is.
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06-16-2011 11:57 AM
06-22-2011 07:55 AM
The deal is this, 99.9% of networks will NOT look at new ideas coming from an unrepresented writer. The only one I know that does is FOX. In order to work your way in as a green writer you have to have a writing sample and submit. The sample should be a MOCK episode from a show they have in production. So they can see how you handle their properties and characters.
If you have a television spec, it's likely to get sent back or tossed. Also, make sure you COPYRIGHT your script with the Library of Congress, ie: The US Copyright Office before you do anything with it.
This protects the script and gives you course and will help you recoup legal fees should you sue. Registering your work with the WGA only time stamps it. They offer no protection and if you were to go to court, you can't sue unless the work is registered with the US Copyright Office. The © will protect you for $35 for 85 years and is manditory should you go to court. The WGA is $20 every 5 years and it's not protection, just a time stamp, similar to a notary service. If your idea is worth it you may want to do both, but honestly you only need to © it to be protected.
Keep in mind that TITLE is not protected under ©. Neither are 'ideas', only what is specifically written on the page.
I read this article by David Jimerson here on DVXuser in the 'ARTICLE' section. It's very insightful and I learned a lot about TV writing from it.
Writing For Television - What It Is, How It's Done, and How To Get Started
WRITING FOR TV PART 1
WRITING FOR TV PART 2
06-22-2011 10:59 AM
Anthony makes some good points. I DP'ed a project exactly one year ago this month. It was a pilot for a television drama called La Fontaine. The show's creator/writer/director is M.F. McDowell. He's been a writer in the industry for just over 25 years. Matt is represented by ITM. He normally works with someone else but on this project he was on his own. Networks do request new ideas annually from "Insiders" and for each network that usually means around 25 or 30 scripts are written. From those they may pick out 4 or 5 and fund pilots (sample episode) to be made. After screening the pilots they'll pick one or two, producing a limited number of episodes so they can have stuff to launch for the new season. There are also spec pilots which are produced independantly of the networks, (far less common, but it does happen - La Fontaine is just such an entity). These are shopped around by the television execs at the representative agency to the execs at the networks and/or places like HBO and other cable networks. These specs don't have a particular season but are zero risk to the network since it didn't cost them a nickel to produce so if they pass on it, nothing lost.
In La Fontaine's case ITM wanted some kind of independant feedback/stamp of approval on the project, so it was entered into this year's Banff World Media Festival's international pilot competition where it won the award for "Best Drama". The Banff festival has been around for decades and changed its name from Banff International Television Festival just this year. So now ITM has both audience data and some critical acclaim for this project under its belt, (even the big boys cover their butt), and is now able to rep the pilot to networks all over the world using the award as a form of additional leverage.
Like everything else, its a crap shoot. Even if someone picks up the show, its common for things to change, ie. different crew, cast, etc.
06-22-2011 11:36 AM
I may be wrong, but you might have a better chance if you shoot it yourself, then approach them with the pilot and the necessary episodes to cover the first season. At least this way, they might be more apt to buy on the basis of it being a safer investment. I understand not everyone has the means to shoot a pilot, but it's an idea.
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- Jun 2011