How to Pitch a TV or Film Series with a Show Bible

Watching a Series on TV

TV and other film series are all the rage now, where they are shown on TV or or one of the many streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO. Often these series are inspired by novels and other types of books.

Do think your book or script might make a good series? Commonly, these series have a few leading characters with overlapping story lines and a fairly complex story that lends itself to three or more episodes. Most of the series I have watched have been about 8 to 16 episodes; but I’ve also followed some series with 30 or more episodes. I even watched one Turkish series — Peasants Rebellion or a story of a fisherman who returns as his twin to a wealthy family to find his killerthat had 120 episodes, and it was so good, I watched them all!

The way to pitch these series ideas is to create a Show Bible or Series Bible. This includes information about the project, a list of the major characters, a short description of each episode, any PR you have gotten for yourself, the book, or the project so far, and an author bio. Additionally, it helps to include a listing of other films in your category. If you have created a promotional video for the series, include that, and if you have written a script, include this for the first episode. If you have scripts for additional episodes, indicate these are available, but don’t include them in the Show Bible because that will make it too long.

For example, here’s a typical table of contents, which is the format I have used for some Show Bibles I put together for myself and a client:

- Title Page with the name of the series, a 10–15 logline of what this is about, and if it’s based on a book, say that. You might also include a photo that dramatically illustrates what the series is about, such as a photo that might appear on a movie poster. If you have created a sample movie poster for your film, use that.

- Introduction, where you feature an overview of the project. If it’s based on a published book indicate that and if the sales or publicity for it has been impressive, mention that, and brieflymention any past credits you have gotten for other films or books

- The Major Characters, where you name the lead and the more important supporting characters, and briefly describe who they are, how they contribute to the story, and their approximate age.

- Other Recent Films in the Genre, where you list other films, their box office, year of release, and distributor.

- Any PR for Yourself, the Book, or the Series. If you have gotten any publicity or awards for yourself, the book, screenplay, or films in the series, mention it here. You can include a few pages with sample clips, headlines, or list of articles and media appearances. If you have created — or will be creating — a promotional video for the film, mention it, and provide a link if it’s available or indicate when it will be.

- The Episodes in the Series. Give each episode a names and provide a 1–2 sentence description. If the episode already has a completed script or chapter in a book which you are including as a sample, your description can be a little longer, though limit it to a paragraph.

- Sample Episodes. If you have written a script, include the first episode, and indicate if any others are available. If the series is based on a book and no script is available, include a few chapters that would turn into the first episode when the series is created.

As for where to get information on the recent films in the genre, you can obtain them if you have a an IMDBPro membership, which costs $149.99 a year or $19.99 a month. Once you are a Pro member, go to the Box Office and click on “Genres.” Look for the keywords that best describe the films in your series. There are over 150 listings to choose from. You can choose multiple categores, and sometimes you will find same film with multiple listings. Then, print out the listing of all of the films in the selected genre — up to the top 100 films if there are more than 100 listings in a categry. The films are listed by their lifetime gross, starting with the highest grossing film. Since these listings can go back, even as far as the 1980s, and possibly earlier, it is better to select the most recent films — say going back five to ten years, depending on how many films have appeared in your genre. For instance, if it’s a long list, go back just five years; if a shorter list, go back ten years. Then, in your write up, list the key categories in reverse chronological order, the most recent films first, and besides the title, include the lifetime gross in millions (ie: $188 million, not $188,020,017, the lifestime gross for Intersteller), and include the distributor and release date. Each listing will look something like this:

Interstellar — $188 million, Paramount Pictures, 2014.

In your introduction to this section, you might summarize your general findings, such as pointing out that there have been many films in this genre and they have generally done very well.

For still more information on particular films that are more closely related to your own series, look at each picture individually to see more details on the story, director, cast, any awards, and other information. For further details, you can go to BoxOfficeMojo.com, a division of IMDB.

Once you have this Show Bible, you are ready to pitch your series to film and TV producers and agents. Start with a query letter to introduce your series and offer to send the Show Bible if they are interested. If you need help in knowing who to pitch to, a good resource is PublishersAgentsFilms (publishersagentsfilms.com), which can send an email query on your behalf to over 1200 producers and over 600 film agents and managers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GINI GRAHAM SCOTT, Ph.D., J.D., is a nationally known writer, consultant, speaker, and seminar leader, specializing in business and work relationships, professional and personal development, social trends, and popular culture. She has published 50 books with major publishers. She has worked with dozens of clients on memoirs, self-help, popular business books, and film scripts. Writing samples are at www.changemakerspublishingandwriting.com.

She is the founder of Changemakers Publishing, featuring books on work, business, psychology, social trends, and self-help. The company has published over 150 print, e-books, and audiobooks. She has licensed several dozen books for foreign sales, including the UK, Russia, Korea, Spain, and Japan.

She has received national media exposure for her books, including appearances on Good Morning America, Oprah, and CNN. She has been the producer and host of a talk show series, Changemakers, featuring interviews on social trends.

Scott is active in a number of community and business groups, including the Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek Chambers of Commerce. She is a graduate of the prestigious Leadership Contra Costa program. She does workshops and seminars on the topics of her books.

She is also the writer and executive producer of 10 films in distribution, release, or production. Her most recent films that have been released include Driver, The New Age of Aging, and Infidelity.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her J.D. from the University of San Francisco Law School. She has received five MAs at Cal State University, East Bay, most recently in Communication.

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GINI GRAHAM SCOTT, Ph.D., J.D., is a nationally known writer, consultant, speaker, and seminar leader, who has published over 200 books.

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Gini Graham Scott

Gini Graham Scott

GINI GRAHAM SCOTT, Ph.D., J.D., is a nationally known writer, consultant, speaker, and seminar leader, who has published over 200 books.

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