Film & TV

Pitching Your Show

Shonda Rhimes

Lesson time 17:33 min

You can't make a TV show without pitching it first. Shonda shares how she originally pitched Grey's Anatomy to network executives and her top tips for how to deliver an effective pitch.

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Shonda Rhimes
Teaches Writing for Television
In 6+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television.
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Preview

So a pitch, for those of you who don't know, and why should you know? Because they're the worst. A pitch is when you go into a producer or a studio or a network, and you tell them the story of whatever idea you have. You say, I have an idea for a medical show about four young surgical interns who blah, blah, blah. A pitch. And it's usually five to 10 minutes long, and you give them all the details of the show. And in television, they'll tell you whether or not they're interested in buying that show and thus hiring you to write that script or not. That is a pitch. Pitching is probably the single most important thing that you can do once you've gotten in the door. You want to get a chance to write a television show. You want to get your chance to develop something, you have to pitch. You can't just do whatever. You have to walk into the door and say, here I am. Here's my idea. And here's how it's going to work. That is the most important thing you can do. And if you're bad at it, it is a giant challenge. So you really have to figure out how to do it and how to do it well. Oftentimes, what makes a really bad pitch are two things. One, no sense of structure. Two, something you cannot follow. If you can't take me from plot A point to plot B to plot C point, and I don't know what's going to happen, or I have no sense of where we're going or where we've been, that's terrible. If I'm lost or just too much, like if it goes on for too long, and it gets sort of painfully long, you're doomed. You want to be able to get in, speak your piece, let them ask you questions, and then you can elaborate all you want to, and get out. You start with the premise. You tell them what the pitch is about. This is a show about a group of young surgeons. Then you tell them what the world is going to be. You give them a paragraph of what the world is going to be about. Then you introduce the characters. You tell them what the plot is going to be. Then you tell them the plot, then you tell them what you told them, then you tell them how funny it's going to be or how moving it's going to be or how great it's going to be, then you tell them how many episodes you can come up with. Basically like, this endless amount of episodes, because we can do blah, blah, blah. And then you thank them and you leave. It's actually quite simple, but it feels difficult. I think it's incredibly important to know as much as you can about your idea before you walk in the door and pitch it. You don't ever go in the door sort of vague. I want to do a show about martians, and that's all you know. But you also don't go in the door and say, I want to do a show about martians and their names are Joe, Sally, Tom, and Eddie and they live at 452-- you don't do that either. That's way too many details. So you have to be able to know all the details, bu...


Make Great Television

When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she got so nervous she had to start over. Twice. Since then, she has created and produced TV’s biggest hits. In her screenwriting class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, and stand out in the writers’ room. You’ll also get original pilot scripts, pitch notes, and series bibles from her shows. Welcome to Shondaland.



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Comments

Millie J.

It's incredible to be learning SO MUCH from Shonda! I'm so grateful ~ we all are. Just hearing about how to structure a pitch is the cherry on the cupcake -- and there are lots more cherries on this playlist! It's exciting to hear the behind-the-scenes business aspect. Thank you for sharing everything!

A fellow student

Shonda Rhimes is the most brilliant teacher. I could not ask for anyone better.

Natalie F.

This is definitely helping my writing! She is the smartest woman I just learn so much from her seriously. She's so real, and in this industry, it's rare! Thank you so much!!

Weronika K.

With every next lesson, I'm more and more admire you as an instructor. I love how honest you're with us. You give us this sparkle of hope, we just need to be well prepared and grab the bull by its horns! Thank you, Shonda!!

Marcus M.

Great advice on pitching. I'm not a show runner or writer, but I've had a few people pitch ideas to me in hopes of me forwarding them on to some of my contacts that might help. I wonder if Shonda and her team accepts pitches? Either way, this is a great lesson!

Margaret W.

I absolutely LOVE this lesson! It's exactly what I needed to hear. She is AMAZING! I hope my TV Series will be addictive, seen by millions of viewers and have an endless amount of episodes.

Cara H.

I had to pitch a show idea while interning on a popular PBS Show here in Texas. It was an eye awakening experience. I was warned about how fast it would go. Wow, they weren't lying. I could sense what ideas were flowing by the silence or type of questioning. I realized how unprepared I was, but the experience was priceless. Had I been exposed to Shonda's class previously I would have certainly had more ammo to bring to the table. I later had a camera gig for a TV Fest here in Austin. I made sure to watch the pitching competition. The competition planted a seed that has been growing ever since. I am so excited about this class and can't wait to pitch my TV show idea.

EK T.

This is one of the most useful lessons yet. It has answers to those questions you might want to ask but may not get a response. Thanks a bunch Ms. Rhimes

CeeJai J.

Great lesson, my biggest take away is - you don't have to have the 'perfect pitch' (pun intended) to get a show on the air. But I have to have great content!

A fellow student

Dear Shonda Rhimes, I am viewing from the Netherlands. Thanks for these lessons. Just want to let you know that there is a young Dutch student who became a doctor inspired by Greys Anatomy. She just was interviewed for Dutch television, where she showed her Iphone recordings of a hospital taken out of business by an insurance company and what that meant for its patients and doctors. Also she speaks out against the increase of administrative work doctors have to endure. 60% is now spend on paperwork instead of on patients. She wants to spend more time with the patients, just like the doctors in Greys Anatomy. That is how big and far reached your show inspires and is loved. Deep bow!Karin Ysbrandy