The Making of a TV Show from the Ground Up, Part 1
As y’all know, Second Shot has been sold as a television show, and I’ve had a bunch of questions about how that happened and what the process is like. So here we go with some answers!
Did you know anything about the TV/film industry when you sold your book for TV?
Nope, I had NO knowledge of the TV/film world when this journey started. My literary agent, who is a goddess, is the one who knows that biz. When I submitted the manuscript of Second Shot to her, she was the one who asked me to write a TV bible for it because she thought it had commercial potential.
Am not gonna lie. When my agent asked me if I could write a television bible for the project. I answered, “Of course!” No kidding, as soon as we got off the phone, I googled what a television bible was, and then googled how to write one.
What’s a TV bible?
It’s a marketing package, a sales document if you will, that describes the show and makes it sound appealing to a producer or studio. It’s the TV equivalent of a book proposal, which usually includes the first several chapters of a book and a synopsis that describes the rest of it.
There’s no standardized format for a TV bible. I googled a bunch of templates until I found one that didn’t make me want to run away screaming!
How did your agent sell your TV show?
She approached a production company she had a contact at which she knew was a reputable company. There are a lot of people calling themselves producers who don’t have the experience or money to pull together a TV show or film and get it made. Which is to say, be careful and do your homework if someone tries to option your book or screenplay!
The production company offered us what’s called a shopping deal. This is a short-term contract (typically six months long) where a producer or production company agrees to try to package the project. This means they might find a lead actor who agrees to do the show/movie, or perhaps a director who wants to make it. If a major star wants to be involved in the project, they’ll “attach” to it, which means they verbally agree to work on the project if and when it gets funded.
The production company might decide to invest its own money in the show and make it. Or, it may try to raise money from investors to make the show. The production company “shopping” the project also might sell it to a studio that actually plans to invest money in it and make it.
What happened after you had a shopping deal?
In my case, a bunch of A-list actresses showed interest in the project—we’re talking the biggest names in Hollywood. I was flabbergasted. In my particular project, the lead character is a woman in her late fifties. Because most actresses look younger than they are, this means an actress in her 60s should play her. As it turns out, there are almost NO leading roles for actresses of that age, and furthermore, they very rarely get to run around, shoot guns, and do cool stunts.
People just don’t make action stars out of 60-year-old actresses. Hence, some serious heavy hitters rolled in on my little project. One of the biggest actresses in the business even tried to buy the project for her production company to make.
Also, a MAJOR director with an incredible resumé attached to the project pretty quickly.
At that point, a bunch of studios offered to buy the project, and we held an auction for it. That took several rounds of offers and several weeks of me frantically learning legal terms used in TV and film contracts. But we finally picked the best offer which happened to be from a production company we were super excited to work with.
And then the contract negotiations began—but we’ll talk about that in another post.