Before you pitch
Pitching a show is a whole world away from creating one and, like anything else, the real way to get good at it is practice. Experience. Learning from your own mistakes and watching the pitches of others to see where they went right or wrong. This is one of the reasons I love the Cartoon Forum, an event where I have pitched unsuccessfully (and learned from failure) and then more successfully (and learned from success). At some point I will post my own thoughts on pitching but here is the most important thing to realise about any pitch, any sale:
People have to want to buy what you are selling.
There are great salespeople and terrible salespeople but even the great salespeople need something worth selling and they need to sell it to the right people. You might blow someone away with a flashy presentation and smooth words but a couple of weeks later that person has to convince their superiors and it is just them and your show document.
That show eventually has to sell itself. Which means that, before you pitch, you need to know that your show will be able to continue where you left off. You need to be sure that the show basics – the concept, stories and characters themselves – will provide the answer to any questions your buyer might have. By the way, that also extends to your audience and the early adopters (usually the parents – be good to them by making something great for their kids).
You may love your characters and stories but this is the point where you have to look beyond all that. You have to see your show as a package and you have to know that package very well.
Take your show and consider these questions -
Who exactly is your show aimed at?
What is different, unique, about this show?
What does it offer children beyond entertainment?*
What does it offer to specific broadcasters?
What is the format (episode length etc.)?
Why that format?
Can it sustain more than ten episodes?
Have you got more story ideas?
Does it look great?
Is it producible?**
Is all of this obvious in just one short document?
Is it obvious in just one single line?
* Truth is, entertainment should be a given. That’s not a unique selling point.
** No point in having a great show that can’t be produced or funded.
You need to have the answers to those questions and you need to commit to them. They can’t be pasted on to your show afterwards ‘ people will see through that. The answers to those questions need to be part of the core of your show. Yes, you can change your mind on some of them later and a particular broadcaster may request a change but you need to be strong with those answers right at the start so it is clear that your show’s foundations are solid. If I made one mistake on some of my early show pitches, it was hoping others would sort out my show’s weaknesses. Don’t do that. A broadcaster/producer/whoever may help take your show from great to magical but they won’t want to start anywhere below great.
And no matter what, the show has to be a good fit for them.
Even if they love your show, they will need to match the answers to those questions to their own internal brief, their channel’s mission or aims. And they will eventually need to do it without you, without your passion to carry it through.
So before you pitch, know your show. Know what it is and why. And make sure your show demonstrates that.