General New Pilot Pitfalls
on Sep 28, 2012
May I add don't have a show that's blatantly racist or about how gay people act silly?
Sep 29, 2012 at 3:30pm
So if youíve discovered this little secret garden of Channel 101, then already youíre interested enough to want to make a show that gets screened. Good. Now letís get down to business.
If your show didnít make the cut, it was not for a lack of scrutiny by us. The Primetime Panel takes the selection process very seriously. Your show was screened, and at the end of the night it was voted on. If there was a debate about it, we might have screened it a second time, just to be sure. You might think weíre dicks for not picking your show, but we are dicks that were thorough.
If your show didnít make it, thereís three possibilities why:
1. It wasnít very good.
2. It wasnít as good as five other shows submitted
3. We couldnít play it.
Options 2 and 3 are a little harder to fix in a post, but reason one isnít. And while I canít be specific about your shows issues, Iíll bet that it might have at least one of the following submission pitfalls, at least to a small degreeÖ
Know your audience: You have the problem of getting your show past a panel of 10 pseudo-intellectual dudes (most of the time) who are examining your show for story structure and production levels. We laugh at clever, archaic jokes and will stone-face the pandering or obvious. If you make it past us, then you your show also has to be mainstream enough to appeal to a 60-40 split of returning audience versus newcomers. So it has to hold a room of 250 people for 5 minutes who have never seen a screening, or have seen 100 of them. Itís a tough tightrope to walk, but if you can do that, you can thrill studio execs and the flyover states with your CBS show pitch. If you live in LA, go to a screening. If you live elsewhere, watch the live Ustream. Better yet, watch the shows the next day, then watch the replay of the live show to see where the audience and you laughed together. Then do that in your show. Simple.
No YouTube sloppy seconds Ė We end up checking every video as we screen it to see if itís been uploaded to Youtube. Generally, if it has more than 100 views on it, or is part of a series on YouTube, it has a much harder climb to get into the screening. We all work really hard to make exclusive content for Channel 101, we just ask the same.
Increase the stakes Ė we get so many shows with two people just having slice-of-life conversations. With only 5 minutes to establish characters, that strategy just does not work. There needs to be conflict, strong character choices and danger in your show or itís not going to screen well.
Keep the show moving Ė if you have any scene thatís in the same location for more than 1 minute, youíre in trouble. The audience will see 9 other shows that move from location to location with abandon and if youíre in a house talking for too long, youíve lost votes. There are exceptions to this rule, but you better have really great actors.
Audio is more important than video Ė If you have shitty audio, we start to tune out. Itís hard to hear and tells us that you didnít go that extra mile to care about 50% of the sensory experience. Great visuals + bad audio = you donít care. Great audio + bad visuals = youíre making an artistic choice with your images. Weird, but true. Go buy a good/great mic and your shows will seem that much better.
No shows about roommates - Seriously, we get a show every month called ďRoomies,Ē or ďRoomsiesĒ or whatever. These shows hit for the cycle of problems with being a 101 show. If youíre thinking about making a show about roommates for 101, donít. Weíre good.
If all these make 101 sound like a bunch of snobby dicks, then maybe this isnít for you. 101 is a cross of a cage match and film school. You will fail a lot, and learn each time. And it costs you nothing for that intimate knowledge. Youíre welcome. Now stop reading this nonsense and make a show that breaks every suggestion I just laid out.
I dare you.
Sep 29, 2012 at 12:27am
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