Chris Grundy from Cool Tools on the DIY Network
Our Coverings 2014 Speaker Blog Series continues with a guest post from Nicola Lees, a specialist in pitching and funding factual TV shows and documentaries and founder of TVMole.com.
The TV industry has an insatiable appetite for new characters, especially those who have an area of expertise or skill such as interior designers, building contractors or architects. From DIY Network to HGTV, the Discovery Channel to Destination America, cable channels are dependent on shows that have compelling onscreen characters who can connect with and entertain the audience, and – most importantly – bring the viewers back to the channel week after week. Nicole Curtis (Rehab Addict), Rev Run (Rev Run’s Renovation), Mike Holmes (Holmes Makes it Right) and Robert Kulp and Mike Whiteside (Salvage Dawgs) all helped DIY Network have its highest viewing numbers ever in January 2014.
Do you think you have what it takes to have your own show on TV? If so, here are some tips to help you attract the attention of TV casting directors and producers.
TV producers are looking for people with strong opinions, eccentric personalities, or access to a unique world. Identify the thing that will make you stand out the most.
Finding onscreen talent with an authentic passion is paramount for many producers – if you don’t feel enthusiastic the audience won’t either and they will reach for the remote control.
Watch lots of television. Study the type of shows you would like to appear on and work out where there might be a gap in the market.
Study the end credits of shows you enjoy to find out which production companies make them and approach the Director or VP of Development to see if they are looking for new faces.
If you are asked to send in a casting tape, keep it short, keep it snappy – 2-3 minutes maximum. You must grab the viewer’s attention at the start of the video (some kind of action is ideal; don’t leave your best till last because they may stop the tape before then.
Think about what is interesting in your world – not just to you, but to the wider public – and include that in your pitch tape. Even better, think about what is visual about your world – what can we see you actually doing?
Be visible. Be active in your industry via professional organizations, get listed in industry directories, appear on panels at events like Coverings, and respond promptly to interview requests from journalists. All of these help to establish your professionalism and credibility.
Be sociable. Make the most of online chatrooms, blogs and social media so producers can find you if they search for your particular expertise. Be interesting, helpful and professional, all of which helps to showcase your personality. Having lots of followers helps to establish your social proof and makes you more attractive to risk-averse TV executives.
TV executives green-light may be only 1/100 of the ideas that are pitched to them, so you need patience and a thick skin.
Be realistic. If you are lucky enough to be hired to host a show, do you have the time to commit to a heavy shooting schedule that could take you away from your business for weeks at a time?
Check out the casting pages at HGTV and DIY Network for current onscreen opportunities. If you’d like to find out more about pitching TV shows you can find lots of resources at www.tvmole.com or follow @tvmole on Twitter.
Nicola Lees has almost twenty years experience of working in the media in London and NYC. She is the founder of TVMole.com, a website that provides industry intelligence for anyone developing, pitching and funding factual TV shows and documentaries.
Nicola will present “Get me on TV!” on Wednesday, April 30 from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM at the Las Vegas Convention Center during Coverings 2014. Click here for more information on Nicola’s session and to view the full list of Coverings 2014 conference sessions.