The Pitch Bible
The Pitch Bible
A pitch bible combines various elements that help define your television show. Often it is what you will use to sell the idea to agents or television producers, so it needs to be done exceptionally well. In our case it probably will be one of the most significant deciding-factors whether or not your “series” gets the green light for spring. It is also a great way to organize and develop your concept. You will sometimes see a pitch bible called a “pitch book” or a “treatment.”
There are various things you can include in a pitch bible. Most of them will depend on what type of show you are pitching (animated, drama, sitcom, reality, etc.). However all pitches will include three very important elements: the logline, synopsis and treatment.
* A logline is a one-sentence description of your idea. If someone asked you what the show was about, what would be your quick answer?
1. Examples of loglines can be found in fall preview guides or online.
2. Television executives usually consider the logline to be the most important element since it is often used later during marketing.
3. It is a good idea to write a dozen loglines and read them to other people to get their reactions.
4. Do not include details of your script in the logline. Put them in the synopsis and treatment.
* A synopsis is a brief summary of your show in a few paragraphs.
1. It should introduce the major characters and major elements of the show (theme, tone etc.).
2. It can be any where from one-half to two pages and should contain little or no dialogue.
* The treatment is more inclusive than the synopsis. It should describe all the major elements of the script including key scenes, major characters, overall storyline, plot, themes and genre of the show.
1. A treatment is similar in form and style to a synopsis, but more detailed.
2. A treatment is usually only about 2-3 pages long or less for a half hour-long show.
3. Although you want to be brief, you need to give enough information so that the reader is interested in the show.
4. Treatments are often done in short story format.
5. Expect to do several revisions of your treatment. Each time make it more condensed and add more vivid language.
6. A series treatment should focus on selling the characters, relationships and the format of the stories that will be playing each week. It is not about telling or selling a story.
* Here are some other elements you may want to include in your pitch bible. You should include anything that will help sell the show. If it won’t help sell the show, don’t include it. If an item is in italics, that also means it is required.
1. Character Descriptions: A description of major and reoccurring characters. It should include such information as their physical characteristics, personalities and how they interact with other characters.
2. Concept Art or Images: Any drawings, illustrations or images that will help bring the story’s characters and environment to life.
3. Episode Synopsis or Story Springboards: A description of the plots of individual episodes that come from the original concept. Each synopsis should have a beginning, middle and an end.
Additional Pitch Bible Tips, (if you were doing this for “real”)
1. Register your treatment with the Writers Guild of America. This will cost you about twenty dollars.
2. Do not include your resume or a sample script in your pitch bible.
3. Place your trademark or WGA number on every page.
4. Have your pitch book bound.
5. Don’t forget to include your contact information.
Preparing and Delivering Your Pitch
* Your pitch is your oral presentation that you give to people you want to read your pitch bible. It is where you become a living, breathing commercial for your TV show—and it can make or break your chances. Here are some tips to ensure you pitch is perfect:
1. Know your material. You should know your characters better than you know your friends. Plus, you don’t want to read it to them. You want to present it.
2. Consider creating poster art or other large visual elements to allow the group better access to your ideas.
3. Bring extra copies of your treatment and other materials. You never know who will be in the meeting with you.
4. Be upbeat, positive and passionate about your idea. If you are not enthusiastic about the show, they won’t be either.
5. Use creative props, but only if they help illustrate your idea.
6. Rehearse your material so it is concise and clear. Use vivid imagery whenever possible.
7. Create a “beat sheet” (or crib sheet) that touches on the main points of your pitch to help you get things down before presenting your pitch.
**ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR OUR RC1 PITCH BIBLE**
- Draft Budget (with the proviso that we have about $200/episode)
- Preliminary Production Schedule. Include how you would use the studio, other equipment. When you would begin shooting? Other space needs such as rehearsal space. Design and construction schedule. Use a calendar with actual dates. This is preliminary; Sally (plus other staff) will help you revise this if your series is chosen but is very important because it will demonstrate FEASIBILITY and answer our questions about how realistic your pitch really is.
- In the case of RC1 and if you are proposing a narrative series your pitch bible must include a script for the first show or pilot (written on spec). Use the correct format. Typically, a half-hour show might equal a 30 page script but this is only a guideline as length of course is linked to style and genre.
See this site for additional suggestions and a pitch bible glossary.
In addition I utilized a number of sources for sections of this discussion of the Pitch Bible, from web sites to a text on TV Scriptwriting. I want to acknowledge that the guidelines come from many different writers and let you know that you too can find lots of material to supplement your work.