Successful tv formats, no 3

3. A pilot is a pilot is a pilot – and you need one!

Now it’s about time to get down to the real stuff with regards to the idea you have. What you want to do is shoot some kind of pilot, so as to have something to show people when you want to market your idea. Format ideas have been sold as paper formats, or even as an idea written on a napkin (or at least that how legend would have it). Truth is, however, if the buyer doesn’t know you and trust you, you need to show that you have a good idea and that you can deliver. So – a pilot is a good thing

A pilot can be anything from you setting up an old HandyCam in your home or your office, engaging a few friends or colleagues to play the different parts of your format (game show contestants, interviewees or what have you) to renting a television studio with a built set and a seven-camera HD production. This pilot should, however, be the pilot that you can show to people, to buyers, and get their interest.

What you should do BEFORE this pilot, however, is a number of smaller pilots. Just test the ideas you have, shoot the different parts of the show at home, try out ideas, get a feel for if your ideas work as well as you think or not. This will serve you well when it’s time to shoot the real pilot. Not only that, it’ll save you money in the end, and probably make you more in the long run.

When you have shot your pilot, take some extra shots of even more exciting situations with the people on the set. This is for the 1 minute trailer that you’ll also have to make, since it’ll be a much better way to reach many potential buyers.

Recap – take your idea, shoot small pilots, as many as needed. These are used to TEST your ideas. Make one big pilot. This one is used to SHOW your idea. And take extra shots for a trailer. Good luck!

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