Starting with the pitch

So what's it about?

I made a mistake with the sitcom pilot I’m working on at the moment: I didn’t nail the pitch down before I started writing it. So even though I’m deep into the second draft, if someone asks me what the premise is, I can only vaguely answer that it’s like a south Asian Frasier:

Karthik’s dad moves in next door — conflict, culture clash and hijinks ensue.

To be honest, I don’t think it’s ever going to get to the point where it’s got a super intriguing pitch — which is a problem, because that’s the first thing most people will hear about it.

I’m going to stick with it for now, because: a. I think it still works as a writing sample that shows off my style; and b. I have a tendency to not finish projects, which I should probably fix.1

But now that I’m embracing the magic of quantity, I know it won’t be too long before I start my next project — so for that, I’ll try starting with the pitch first.

Not only will that solve this problem, but it’ll let me test the idea on people before I start writing it, to gauge whether it’s actually worth spending time on. Plus: I’ve heard that a common question you get asked at interviews and general meetings is what else are you working on? — so it’ll be useful to have strong answers already prepared for all the ideas I’m developing.

How to Write a Pitch

So the next obvious question is: how do you actually write a pitch?

Luckily, I recently watched the incredible Netflix Pitch Workshop hosted by Stage 32. Although I’m a long way from pitching to Netflix, I thought the framework was really great — and a useful way to make sure I’ve figured out all the key elements of my show before I start typing script pages.

I’ll share my full notes as soon as I’ve finished writing them up — the whole thing was three hours long! — but for now, you can read my notes on the two most relevant sections here.

  1. I’ve been working on sitcom pilots for several years now, and I still don’t have a polished sample that I’m happy to show people without adding qualifiers like “I know this needs work!” It turns out that the secret is to actually do that work until I can stop saying that…

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