Funny Ideas – Advice from Sophia Zachariou
Before starting as a Development and Production Executive at Screen NSW, Sophia Zachariou had a long and impressive track record as Executive Producer of some ground-breaking programs on Australian TV, including The Chaser’s Media Circus, Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting, The Chaser’s War on Everything and Saturday Night Crack Up, as well as developing the ABC’s iView hit series Fresh Blood, which uncovered a new generation of comedy writers.
Sophia shared her experiences and insights with a group of emerging screen comedy writers from Western Sydney at ICE in early March.
Here are Sophia’s 15 top tips for new screen content producers:
- Go to industry events, network and meet key people – network heads, TV buyers, commissioning editors.
- Ask for an initial meeting with a producer or commissioning editor; explain you’d like to get information about what they are looking for.
- Be persistent but never annoying, be friendly and professional.
- Do your research, find out what they’ve done before, what their slate is, what shows are on their network.
- When you meet, ask for information; what genres, budgets, types of shows are they looking for, what time slots do they want to fill, what else have they got coming up
- Ask for a second meeting so you can pitch your idea after you’ve garnered all of the info you need.
- Show something visual at this second meeting, a power-point presentation or a sizzle reel.
- Make your pitch is brief (usually no more than 3-5 minutes).
- Say what your title is (a good title is important).
- Say what it is; and if it’s TV, how many episodes etc.
- Briefly explain where the idea has come from. What’s inspired it What is it based on
- Don’t tell the whole story. Outline the world of the story. What is an audience going to see
- Describe where you see your show fitting – the time slot, who is the audience, who will it appeal to.
- What is it similar to in tone and style
- Ask them who they recommend as producers and collaborators – it shows you’re willing to collaborate.
Photos: Barry Gamba.