TV: Developing the idea

Posted: October 10, 2014 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 14_16
Tags: , , ,

You have a week to develop your idea, make a visual trailer and prepare your pitch. Easy!

Where do Ideas come from? Well, there is no such thing as originality. Look around you, at existing ideas. It is always good to start from an existing idea and add a twist, and develop it. It could be changing it for an audience, or adding a genre, or simply revamping an old idea.

The BBC has a great way of developing ideas. They make it as a radio show first, then when they can prove it works, they put it on TV. BBC 2 or 3 usually, and then if it works really well, it moves to BBC1. See: Little Britain, The Day Today, Absolute Power, The Mighty Boosh and (arguably) Have I got News For You and QI, which both have their original versions still running on Radio 4.

Having a reference is vital – why make a show that the audience doesn’t want? Combine audience viewing figures with an element of originality. For example: X Factor and Pop Idol are modern versions of New Faces and other talent shows, just with a public voting system. This voting element is so popular a lot of shows try to add this in.

So, look at what has existed before, what exists now, what the Target Audience is interested in (Culturally, socially etc) and then you can look at what twist you can put on it. What does your audience relate too?

Once you have ideas, interrogate them. Pull them apart to make sure they work and are viable. Look at:

a) treatment – How you are treating the idea. It could be the script as a short story, it could be the shape of the series, the types of questions or tasks for contestants – it all depends on the kind of idea you are working on.

b) suggested cast – who would you like in it? Not necessarily who will be in it – you can name check the type of person to appear in it.

c) target audience – who is it for? The better you do this, the more likely it will appeal to other markets. For example, Dr Who was a Children’s show. It worked so well adults watched it.

d) budget, funding – How much will it cost to make? And is this realistic based on what you will get to make it? Be aware of the balance between talent, effects, locations, sets and the cheapest way to make a show – contestants.

e) production schedule with launch date and contingency plans – when are you making this? How long will it take to shoot, and what will you do if it goes wrong? If you need locations, be aware of the weather – Please note that Game of Thrones is filmed in the Autumn and then post production is winter.

f ) legal and/or ethical issues – Very contextual. Could be watershed issues, could be privacy – be aware of of the possible implications of your ideas (harm to contestants, harm to the viewers etc…)

g) scheduling time – what time it is on has a massive bearing on what you can show. See Above..!

And all this is just to nail down your idea. Once you have the idea, make the trailer (Script, storyboard, ideas for sets, titles & Fonts etc) as a way to show visually what you want to achieve.

And remember, we plan to make the pilot after half term. So, No Pressure.


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