I wanted to wrap up my SXSW take away’s series with another strand I enjoyed exploring at the festival and that’s independently financed TV pilots.
But first – my office informed me I got the date wrong on Early Bird Registration for the 2017 Film Finance Essentials course. So there’s actually another 12 hours to score the $199 special, and price goes up tomorrow.
Click Here To Register (real last day! :)
OK now back to independently funded TV pilots which has become a very popular topic with you guys judging from the emails and consulting inquires I get related to this.
My position about a year ago was that it was a fool’s errand to independently finance a TV pilot since networks prefer to finance their own pilots, and aren’t going to acquire them from third parties.
However, in the last year some things have changed. Mostly what we’re seeing now is that creators are financing their own pilots as proof of concept for a series – sometimes that means a full fledged pilot, other times it’s a short form digital series, and I’ve even seen one off shorts be used as proof of concept.
I met a pair of filmmakers at SXSW that invested ~$60K of their own money and produced a 30 min pilot that is honestly broadcast quality. They then posted the trailer to the pilot on Facebook and started pinging anyone they knew in the business and circulating it around. Long story short, they ended up in pitch meetings with 3 different production companies, one of which was Lions Gate TV who they ended up doing a deal with. #Boom
Another filmmaker I met had an idea for a one-off short proof of concept but once he started shooting realized that he could make a full pilot, but didn’t have his own funds to invest. So he got a $30K outside investment and shot a full pilot…then shopped it around to a few companies and landed at Le Bron James production company where they are developing out the series to pitch to networks.
So between those two stories I was very inspired and needless to say, my position on independently financed pilots has changed ;)
Personally I would still be conservative with my approach though and only invest funds on something that I had specifically reverse engineered for the market….meaning, I knew there was a realistic potential buyer on the other side. Realistic is the key term here as I find most creators think HBO and Netflix are realistic buyers for the series when sadly it’s just not the case at all. (this alone is a whole other topic for a different day)
So that’s the scoop on producing your own pilots and proof of concepts for TV! I’m personally involved in a proof of concept digital series for a major cable network as we speak, and it’s been a real learning experience so far. I look forward to sharing more details with you on the nuts and bolts when I’m able to.
What are your thoughts on this subject and have you produced your own pilot yet? I’d love to hear more if you want to discuss in the comments section below…