Hollywood is built on the power of Idea. The “Closed Door” myth is busted open thanks to the Internet, and this pro’s experience.
Hollywood is built on the power of “idea”, and television is the most rapidly evolving platform for ideas to be produced through storytelling and games. Most people think of Hollywood as a closed door, with opportunities reserved for those who “know people”. On the contrary, Hollywood is a machine constantly on the search for new ideas to help reinvent itself and bring a fresh form of entertainment to viewers. After working for seven years as a Development Executive, creating and pitching concepts with producers, I can tell you it’s simply a game of matching the right concept to the right producer at the right time.
The most notable pioneer of television who started his empire from a simple notion is my former boss, Merv Griffin. In 1964 (post quiz show scandals), Merv was flying back from New York with his wife Julann pondering ideas for shows they could pitch, when they began to explore the following idea; “What if we gave the contestant the answer, and they had to figure out what the question was?” That triggered a playful conversation similar to the following;
Merv, “How many feet are in a mile?”.
Julann, “The Ford Theatre”.
Merv, “Where was Abraham Lincoln shot?”.
That basic idea and game went through many stages of development before even being pitched to the network, but once produced, it became the most successful game show in the history of television we now know as “Jeopardy!” In 1986 Griffin sold the show, along with “Wheel of Fortune” (created shortly after) to The Coca Cola Company for a staggering $250 Million in cash. Also, checkout New Amsterdam Season 3 UK.
Today, the landscape of programming and deal making is vastly different, and creating such simple concepts that haven’t already been produced is difficult. To our benefit, the outlets and opportunities for new TV shows is literally a hundred-fold what it was in the 60’s. Hollywood producers and development executives work full time to create or find those new concepts to sell to TV networks, and more and more are using the Internet to source new material. Checkout the rascal does not dream of bunny girl senpai season 2.
The Television Writers Vault is a valuable tool being used by producers scouting new projects, and for writers (aspiring or professional) to market their concepts and scripts direct to the television industry. Writers can find professional advice on formulating concepts for today’s thriving and competitive programming world, as well as understand the inner-workings of the television industry to streamline projects in the most positive direction.
If you think being an outsider from Hollywood makes it impossible, I know first hand that’s not true. In my first year as a development executive at Merv Griffin Entertainment, I brought in a concept created by a journalist in Florida. The idea was written up in a two-page outline, and explored the simple idea; “How far will an ordinary person go to help a stranger in need?” The idea could have also been pitched as “Pay It Forward meets Candid Camera”. Our producers immediately saw the potential for comedy and entertainment value, and Merv signed the new writer to an option deal. The project was sold on our first pitch to Disney, and eventually packaged for production where it still sits.