If you’re thinking about entering Box of Tricks’ Screen/Play Award, but don’t know the first thing about pitching for television, worry not: we’re here to guide you through the process. We’ve enlisted the help of acclaimed writer for stage and television, Ella Carmen Greenhill (Plastic Figurines, Coronation Street) to give you her own personal top tips. Over to you, Ella!
“I asked all the producers that I’ve worked with and am currently working with one thing that they look for in a pitch. I thought that would be my job done but actually the majority came back with the same answer – PASSION. So number one on my pitch top tips list is…
– Be passionate about your idea. – Love what you are writing about, show that in your pitch and other’s will love it too. This is even more true when it comes to the spoken pitch. Show how excited you are about your idea and that will excite other people.
– Be pacey and succinct – don’t waffle on. Short precise sentences that are to the point. Every sentence should earn it’s place.
– And with that in mind use the rule of three – your protagonist is “smart, funny, sexy”. Your antagonist is “nasty, sly, stinky”. Never more than three, it just gets too messy.
– This isn’t an academic piece of writing – be conversational, be light hearted, be fun.
– Tone should reflect tone – so if you’re show is a comedy then your pitch should make the reader laugh. If it’s a tragic love story, it should make us sad. If it’s a show about a crazed, man-eating shark then… well I don’t know… but you get the idea!
– Write your breakdown for episode 1 as if it’s episode 3 – don’t waste time on set up and who’s who – get to the gritty action asap.
– Be specific – if you know the place well – if it’s your home town for example, then show that – tell us something we wouldn’t know.
– Create banging characters and make sure they are all different – don’t have two character breakdowns that are the same.
– You might want to think about the POV of the piece – from who’s eyes are we seeing this world?
– Why you? This is tough and something I hate doing but it’s a good idea, even if it’s just a sentence to show why only you can write this and make it amazing. This is your call and you might decide that your idea and the passion you have exuded through your written pitch is enough but I do know that some producers respond well to these little extra touches.
– What is unique about this show – how is it different to anything we’ve seen before? That doesn’t mean it can’t be a story of the week procedural, it absolutely can, but why is it different to every other show in that category?
~ Ella Carmen Greenhill, playwright and television scriptwriter
If Ella’s tips have got the inspiration flowing, then you’ve got until 6 November to get your submissions in to our Screen/Play Award in partnership with Sky Studios. Check out our handy Fact Sheet which tells you everything you need to know about the application process, and if there’s a burning question that we’ve somehow managed to overlook, drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to answer!