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I am a nice respectful person trying to get into the industry to pitch a television show. Please help.

Algonquin, IL |
Filed under: Entertainment law

I have my ducks in a row for a very strong story line for a reality based television show. It can be very frustrating coming into contact with companies and all of them state that "they don't accept any unsolicited concepts" How do I become solicited?

Attorney Answers 7

  1. You picked an odd forum to discuss how to break into show biz----recommend you get yourself a manager (they cost money) to plug you into the right folks. That is the most common method. Occassional, no....very rarely some other forms of publicity can get a foot in the door (remember the Octomom).

    This is a forum for people to ask legal questions of attorneys.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

  2. Actually, the only way most TV networks or production companies will accept unsolicited material is if it comes from an agent or an entertainment attorney so you actually are in the right place! I suggest that you search Avvo for entertainment attorneys with television experience that are already working with TV networks and and retain them. It will cost you money upfront in the form of a retainer but think of it as an investment in your business and it may be the best money you ever spend. Good luck!

    Ivan J. Parron, Esq.

  3. Get an agent and a good entertainment attorney. You can find one in your area through this site. You will need these people anyway and should not forego retaining them. They will be invaluable to you as you navigate the entertainment industry.
    Good luck

  4. My colleagues offered good info here. In my opinion, you will not be well served thinking you need to hire a lawyer to shop your concept. There are many lawyers that also work in this way, but being an entertainment lawyer does not necessarilly mean you help talent find work.

    For example, my firm works in entertainment and we boast several celebrities among our clients that we have worked with but we would not be able to help you with this. We, for example, prepare various agreements, review studio contracts, handle IP for production companies, etc. While there are many lawyers that do handle talent representation on some level, I would be looking more for agents/managers to work with as this is their principle function.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Good luck!

    The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. Feel free to call for a free phone consultation; your inquiries are always welcome: CONTACT: 866-871-8655 DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

  5. Normally it just means that they will accept pitches only from agents and attorneys. Even then, they will usually require that a submission agreement be signed and submitted with the pitch materials.

    Also, even if you have a great concept for a show, it is usually very difficult to to sell it directly to a network without an established showrunner being on-board.

    You also need to be sure you are pitching it to the right companies, especially when it comes to the various cable channels. Oftentimes those channels are looking for shows that fit within the particular programming direction of the channel at the time you're making the submission, and often times they are looking for projects that fit within certain specific genre parameters, depending on what audience demographics they are targeting .

    Good luck.

    The above is not intended as legal advice and does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship, as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

  6. About the only other way people are going about "breaking into" the biz these days is to put together a pilot-short (3-5 minutes max) either on their own of with a free-lance production company, and put it up on YouTube. The budget for something like this can be $0-+/-$5000. But this is a business answer, and not a legal one.

  7. You need to find an agent or attorney to submit your concept. An entertainment attorney is likely where you need to look first, and ask for referral to a TV screenwriter agent with top notch contacts. Your problem is that ideas, even with "ducks in a row" are a dime a dozen in television, particularly for relaity shows. What the studios are looking for is fully developed shows (pilots) by well known writers and producers so that the studio can do focus group testing for marketability and, if chosen, do filming and marketing and distribution. Studios have lots of pilots to choose from and do not need to take concepts and ideas that come out of the blue (unsolicited concepts.) Unsolicited concepts are nothing but trouble for the studio as the submitters uniformly have unrealistic expectations and negotiations consume an inordinate amount of time and when turned down generate wild claims of "they're so stupid they can't see how good it is", "they stole my concept", or "they are so unfair" etc. So, unless a well-respected agent or producer with good control over clients and a history of successful shows is submitting, the studios understandably just flat refuse to accept the trouble, as it's seldom if ever good business to accept trouble.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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