Have you ever had one of those nights of sitting on the couch in your Snuggie, while watching Homeland when a thought pops into your head? You get the idea that what this show could really use is some zombies. Everyone is crazy about zombies these days, so how hard could it be to convince an executive producer to green-light a series about fighting terrorist zombies?
Most people with a high concept television idea will unfortunately never get the chance to come face-to-face with a Hollywood producer for the fabled “elevator pitch.” Fortunately for anyone who has heard of the ATX Festival, the chance to have that precious minute of speaking time is within grasp thanks to the pitch competition.
The whole entry process and competition are quite simple. Just film yourself — and any creative partners — pitching your idea for a scripted series and submit it. The guidelines are also pretty straightforward, but important: pitches must be under 90 seconds and describe a scripted series. It may sound brief, but the whole point of a pitch is to sum up the potential broad appeal of a show for executive producers who are usually too busy to pay attention to the unwashed masses.
The beauty of the submission process is that the form of presentation is totally up in the air. You can either throw a few bones at some hungry local film students to add some nice production value, or just use your iPhone to film yourself during your bathroom break at the office. Just make sure it doesn’t go one second over the limit or it'll get thrown out.
All qualifying entries will be screened by this year’s panel of judges, which is comprised of industry insiders and veterans including producer and star of the greatest Christmas movie of all time, Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story, for those of you wondering). The panel of judges plus Ralphie will narrow the entries down to 10 finalists who will then square off in a live pitch competition at the festival.
The final contestant left standing gets the ultimate prize: a chance for a pitch meeting in front with one of the festival’s studio/network partners. While it might not be a sure shot at fame and fortune, it’s still a bigger opportunity that many in the industry rarely receive.
There is a $25 submission fee for all entries, but entrants get special discounts for the festival and for the script writing software program Final Draft, so for those truly committed to writing for television, this is money well spent.
The final deadline for entry is January 18, so there isn’t much time for dilly-dallying. But as long as you have an idea and can record a video, that should be all the time you need.
Make sure you follow all of the official guidelines and complete a submission form and you’ll be on your way to bringing to life your concept for a show that’s part Breaking Bad, part Girls.