How NOT to pitch a pilot

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by Ken Levine

Pitching pilots to networks is somewhat of an art. I mean, it’s not Adele singing or Linda Lovelace eating a cucumber, but it does take a certain skill. My writing partner, David Isaacs and I have been pitching pilots for years. We don’t sell them all but we have sold quite a few. So we have some sense as to what’s involved.  (And it’s closer to what Linda Lovelace does.)

Generally, we keep our pitch down to about fifteen minutes. We never read. We may go in with a sheet of bullet points or no notes at all. We explain the premise, the theme, and what about the project excites us. We introduce the characters briefly, and offer possible story suggestions for down the line. Along the way we integrate a few jokes.

The idea is to spark their interest in a way that they can actually picture the show on their network. We answer any questions and keep the dialogue going for as long as we can. The more they talk about it, usually the more interested they are.

Generally the whole process is over in a half hour and we leave. Networks tend to bunch their pilot pitch meetings together so we know they already heard three pitches this morning and two more are scheduled after us. It must get very tedious hearing all these pitches back to back. I don’t envy them.

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