Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Reality Show Pitch › “I can’t strees enough to
“I can’t strees enough to protect this before pitching. I have had many
shows turn into a well-known series and I didn’t start getting paid for
them until I properly protected myself. If they can snag it from ya,
brother they will.”
Listen to ‘Brother Grinner’ and taketh heed! The film & tv industry is probably one of the greatest gigs especially if you can go mainstream. But be advised; when it comes to getting a hold on the ‘next big thing’ people in this industry steal and won’t think anything of it until you’re able to bring them to heel.
After you’ve gotten everything written down as Grinner suggested, yes do submit a copy to the WGA ($25 – $35 bucks well spent) to register your show. However, all this does is establish ‘a chain of title’ meaning at the time of registering you’ve shown ownership of the ‘product’. For more protection, you’ll need to submit another written copy and a copy of the completed pitch / sizzle reel of the show to the US Copyright Office if you live in the US. They’ve changed the way they accept submissions so read the instructions carefully. $45 will get you a certificate of copyright and an iron-clad piece of evidence of ownership.
You’ll also need an entertainment attorney because all the chain of title does is establish when the show was registered and who claims ownership. All of which will be disputed vehemently in court if you’ve caught someone snagging your show. Remember, you cannot copyright ideas. But you can protect your creation once it is affixed into a medium for dissemination or distribution. Doing these things will give a legal timeline of when that was done.
With music, shows and anything else that can be conceived as ‘content’ independents like yourself are better served by producing the show on your own dime first. The big media outfits are lazy and don’t want to spend the money developing shows unless they came up with it first. They are far more apt to buy an established product. My advice to you is to just produce the show yourself, get some episodes online (which will also establish your show as being a ‘published work’) build an audience and then pitch it through the avenues Grinner mentioned earlier. You will be take far more serious with an established product in hand than just with a ‘idea’ to pitch.
It’s harder to do it that way, but you’ll have more muscle to back you up. Because most likely, if ‘they’ want your show they’re going to want to buy it outright and cut you out of the loop. Having that manager Grinner mentioned and an attorney will help you get a better deal.
Lastly, stick to video for ‘reality tv’ type shows. If the show takes off, you’re going to need to crank out episodes in a timely / inexpensive manner. Film is great if you’re making a ‘one off’ or a narrative series’ but it takes a lot of time and ‘flowla’ for lab fees and telecine processing. That will be money better spent developing your show.