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OVERDRIVE (W.T)


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#1 Mungai Kiroga

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 07:30 AM

Hi guys.

I am a young, aspiring television producer from Nairobi, Kenya. I am working on pilot episode for a program idea that I have. Since I have been a member of this forum for about two years now and I have learned loads from all of you, I feel that I should share with you my progress. It is my first production and I am very excited about it.

THE PROGRAM

The working title for the program is Overdrive (there is a magazine in India with the same title so I will definitely change it before we start production). It will be a thirty-minute motoring program.

I know that a program on cars is not exactly new. All the same, this one will be different from the likes of pimp my ride and top-gear. It will have a different feel from them. In addition, we do not have a motoring program produced in East Africa for East Africa so I am sure Overdrive will attract an audience. It will be comprised of short segments that will alternate each week.

The highlight of the program will be a segment tentatively called drive like an ace. We will take an ordinary driver and over the period of one season, transform her into a driving expert with tough skills. For this segment, we are working with a company that specializes in arming drivers with survival driving skills. It is run by a rally driver called Glen Edmunds (glenedmunds.com). We will teach our student 4x4 driving skills, defensive driving, how to drive out of a hostile situation, and so on.

The show will have two presenters, one male and one female. It will be exciting, humorous and sometimes emotional.

THE PILOT EPISODE

The pilot will be longer that the actual episodes. In the first half, we will introduce the program, the presenters and the contributors. In the second half, we will have a sample episode of the program.

I am the producer, director and scriptwriter. I am working with two friends of mine who are the co-producers. They both know people who have production equipment that we can use. Between the three of us, we should be able to find cameras, lights, sound equipment and etcetera to use.

The co-producers and I plan to shoot between January 26 and February 9 2008. Right now, we are drafting the budget, scouting for filming locations, applying for permits, looking for presenters and confirming with the contributors. We are also running up and down all over the city trying to convince people to lend us equipment and invest financially in the project.

THE BUDGET

What budget?

THE CHALLENGES

We have a lot to do between now and January. I for one have to finish the final script. We also have numerous elements to confirm including the money. Fortunately for us, we are excited and committed to the project. We are determined to shoot the pilot regardless of how much or how little money we will have. If need be, we will take on multiple roles to get it done.

That is all for now, I will give updates on the project from time to time. Good luck to us!!!
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#2 Walter Graff

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 09:21 AM

We are determined to shoot the pilot regardless of how much or how little money we will have.


It sounds like an ambitious and exciting project but I believe you are going about it wrong. Make a great one page concept and pitch the concept to whoever you think might be interested. Putting something together, regardless of how much budget you have is a great way to make a piece that no one will be interested in. One reality is you have never done this. Odds are good, no one would let you make such a show on your own. They want someone who is experienced in the nuances of making a television program. So the reality is they would more than likely not let a novice make a TV show who knows nothing about the intricacies of making a TV program. Many established companies are looking for ideas and shows that they can produce. It's much easier for a company with a track record to sell a program than someone with no experience doing so. In that case, a broadcaster that might be interested in purchasing such a program would usually ghost your production to a company that they deal with that does have a track record. I think a lot of folks think that 'pilots' are programs you spend your money to make. I think the term you want to use is 'pitch video'. You would pay for a pitch video, a company you sell your program to would pay for a pilot. You could make one as you say but make it longer than the real thing would be. Big mistake. You want to make something that gives a clear idea of what you envision but usually make it less in length so that if they like it, they want to see more, rather than having too much that can change someone's mind real fast. If it's not good and short, then it's easy, and if its not good and long, they will not watch much and you will have spent far too much time making something that could have been shorter and done the same thing. OF course I speak from American and European experience so your experience may be different. But I have also had a thousands of people like you all pitch the same idea of making a 'pilot' only to have failure, because they didn't know the process, nor understand the industry.

My suggestion is to first and foremost make a one-page of the concept. Make it good. If someone doesn't get the idea in the first two sentences, they will not, so consider how important the two sentences that describe what the show is about are. Second, make a small pitch video with a short, and interesting segment, that gives a flavor for your idea. Make is short and sweet so folks will want to see more if they like it, rather than it being too long and possibly offering concept they don't like that clouds what they see, because its not perfect, and the length makes it less interesting. Third, look into finding a production company that has experience in programming and possibly the type of program you want to pitch. Pitch to them. If they like it they will have a far greater chance of selling it than you. Of course my experience is based on programs I have sold in the US and Europe so your country might be different.
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 02:46 PM

My suggestion is to first and foremost make a one-page of the concept. Make it good. ". Second, make a small pitch video with a short, and interesting segment, that gives a flavor for your idea. Make is short and sweet so folks will want to see more if they like it, rather than it being too long and possibly offering concept they don't like that clouds what they see, because its not perfect, and the length makes it less interesting. Third, look into finding a production company that has experience in programming and possibly the type of program you want to pitch. Pitch to them. If they like it they will have a far greater chance of selling it than you. Of course my experience is based on programs I have sold in the US and Europe so your country might be different."



I agree mostly, except in the length of the "pitch video." I think is better to have a short, entire key-scene done as a standalone piece and pitch that, than a one-pager that may not make sense because it abruptly cuts at the one minute mark. I agree with what Walter: "If someone doesn't get the idea in the first two sentences, they will not, so consider how important the two sentences that describe what the show is about." But I think it's important to have that scene carry itself to the end, particularly if you want to direct the pilot. I think of it as a very-tight short film (5 minutes at the very longest) where all the elements of the larger piece would be included to give a real sense of what the TV show will be like. But what Walter might be saying is let an established production company worry about that, you just worry about something small to hook the production company itself.

Most Western studio executives first look at the image of whatever project is presented to them. If that is well shot and edited, they look at the acting. If that is believable, then they look at the storytelling. If that is water tight, then they may consider giving you a chance, in that order generally. So, if you manage to do all that, keep people interested throughout and wondering what happens next at the end of the short, you may have a shot at getting some money to produce it. Easy, right? Plus, you would show you can personally produce or direct, if that is anything you want to go for.

Or you could do the often-done "Trailer" of a larger piece, where the entire story is more or less outlined with key moments played out for the audience to be hooked on. I personally don't like this approach for no-budget projects for it requires a lot more money/ production value to make in a good-looking, believable sort of way. But it can certainly work. Just remember that for this kind of project whatever you end up doing, for whoever to see, it is got to be the best thing you can produce, otherwise you would probably just be starting off with the wrong foot. The old cliche of first impressions being long-lasting couldn't be truer here.

Again, just my opinion.

Good luck!
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 02:51 PM

I agree mostly, except



Excpet it seems we are talking about two diferent things. He is talking about a TV show (non dramtic) and you seem to be talking about more of a feature/dramatic.
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 09:22 PM

Excpet it seems we are talking about two diferent things. He is talking about a TV show (non dramtic) and you seem to be talking about more of a feature/dramatic.



Oops!

Got it, should have read the whole thing twice. I just locked on the whole dramatic project side of production, which is what I do. Sorry guys.
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#6 Mungai Kiroga

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 05:15 AM

It sounds like an ambitious and exciting project but I believe you are going about it wrong. Make a great one page concept and pitch the concept to whoever you think might be interested. Putting something together, regardless of how much budget you have is a great way to make a piece that no one will be interested in.

Of course my experience is based on programs I have sold in the US and Europe so your country might be different.



Thank you for the replies. I should clarify that Overdrive will be a thirty minute non-dramatic program that will run weekly. I have been sending proposals to various parties for the past six months or so. The feedback from most people has been the same, "we want to see a sample". It is difficult to convine broadcasters and potential sponsors to get involved with the project because my experience is limited. With a pilot, it will be easier to get them on board.

I could write a concept and try to sell it to another more established comopany as you suggest. However, Overdrive will not be a complex program. It wil not require the resources used in dramatic programs. Also, Kenya's television industry is young. Most of the programs we watch are foreign. There is growing demand for local productions and broadcasters are keen looking for programs that will feed the need.


Will people like the pilot? I believe that they will. The responses I have been getting from people I have sent proposals to have been very positive. They like they idea. I just need to prove that it can be shot and that we can shoot it.
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#7 Mungai Kiroga

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 07:16 AM

Hi everybody. It has been a while since I posted an update on this topic. Initially, we had planned to start shooting at the beginning of this month. Unfortunately, due to the unrest in my country we had to postpone production until the situation could cool down.

Last week, I had a meeting with an executive at one of our stations and I made my first pitch. It was quite nerve wrecking but it went well. He liked the idea and hinted that the station would be interested in the program once we start production. However, he said that he would like to see the pilot episode first.

The weapon of choice for the pilot episode is a Sony Z1U. The script is about 80% complete. The program will have two presenters, one male and one female. Although it is essentially a non-dramatic show, there will be some acting just to liven it up. The presenters will play defined and distinguishable characters. The guy will be mischievous, conniving and we will give him funny lines. He will present light topics and will also antagonize the female presenter. On the other hand, lady will be the more serious one of the two. She will present the more serious and complex topics.

Visually, I want to go for two different ?looks?. Whenever the female presenter is on screen, the camera work will be serious and ?business like?. We will have formal composition, locked down cameras or very minimal movement, long (duration) shots and few cuts with smooth continuity. Whenever the male presenter is on screen, the camera work will be casual. That means hand held camera shots or stead cam shots, short (duration) shots, less formal composition and relatively faster editing.

The male presenter?s wardrobe will be casual and will consist mainly of denim pants. The female presenter will be slightly more formally dressed although we will not clad put her in business suits.

We will most likely shoot HDV although that is not yet confirmed. We are yet to find an editor who will give us a good deal to edit HDV.

There are a few issues to be sorted out before we can shoot the pilot. The key issue is of course funding. I knew that this project would be expensive. I just didn?t know HOW expensive it would be. I am beginning to get an idea of what Robert Rodriguez went through when he was trying to shoot ?El Mariachi?.

Still, our commitment to the project is still high. If all goes well, we will shoot the pilot in March and have it ready by April. Hopefully, within the next three or at most four months, we will have more than just an idea on paper.
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