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Writing

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.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Such passion! Not just inspiring, but tactically useful too. Thank you!

This was one of the most inspiring, specific, journeys behind the "how to" that I have taken. Thank you Shonda!

What can I say? It was a pleasure watching and learning from Shonda. I love when she says she is a story teller, this is what I always tell people about me, so I immediately felt a bond there.. Thank you!

When Shonda talks about the way she feels when she's writing, what inspires her, and how she stays focused makes me realize I'm on the right track.


Comments

Sayid A.

The original pitch document in the resource tab, where you can download other materials as well.

Asa

I did not find the orgianl Grey's Anatomy Pitch. I am going to search the internet.

Amanda A.

Can anyone direct me to where they found the original Grey's Anatomy Pitch mentioned in the workbook?

A fellow student

Loved the classes so far, however I am finding trouble locating the pitch document Shonda used for Greys quoted in the workbook.

Melanie Star S.

So glad (and surprised) to hear Shonda say "pitches are the worst!" hahaha! I'm so glad to know it's not just us "little people", trying to make it, who feel that way!! :)

Johnny C.

For anyone needing information on financing, some of the other film teachers devote a lesson on the subject.

Michael M.

I love this. I just wish she would have mentioned how to get in front of TV execs. Especially from a new writer who's not written a successful series. Any thoughts?

Vicente

Definitely one of the best lessons. Yes, writers shouldn't be in a pitch room when almost everything is about being good (performance) in the room. That could be an obstacle for great writers and more difficult for foreigner writers.

Jacquie C.

Amazing. I typically write concepts but I have a new idea that I've been pushed really hard to pitch for TV. I've never done that before and I'm SO STRESSED! Listening to Shonda has helped anchor me back to earth. I'm getting amazing information here and it's really helping me to understand my characters better and the flow.

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!