In November 2018 we put the finishing touches on a sizzle reel for a six-part documentary TV series that followed ten students on their journey to become stand-up comedians, entitled Is This Thing ON. Our executive producer pitched the concept to ABC Comedy and by December, they had requested to see a full episode. We spend the best part of the Christmas break cutting episode 4 and in the middle of January our distributor took it to his contacts at all every Network in the country.
From a production perspective, it’s a waiting game. As well as the five-minute sizzle reel and a full cut of episode 4, we also put together a 30-page prospectus, profiling the creators & cast along with a comprehensive breakdown of each episode.
In the last 6 months, we have developed a relationship with a well-connected distributor. Mike Aldrich from Greenhills Media Group International has a reputation within the industry for unearthing new programs that will appeal to networks. He is also an expert at matchmaking the right network to a product. A show that looks into the world of stand-up is a great fit for the ABC comedy channel, but as Mike pointed out, there are no guarantees. So many elements need to come together to pique the interest of network programmers. Budgets are tighter and decision-makers are more discerning, with a comprehensive understanding of what will appeal to their demographic.
At the end of the day, there is an element of “right place at the right time”
Before cameras roll, before the first production meeting, even before you write the first half-page treatment, ask yourself, is there a market for this idea? Even if you get every element of the production perfect, from creative to casting to shooting and post, if the subject matter of the program does not appeal to the broader community, networks will not buy it.
Over the next few months, we will know if Is This Thing On has a future on Australian Television. If it does, we will celebrate by diving headlong into season 2 and if it doesn’t, we will head back to the drawing board, wiser, smarter and more determined to find that elusive ingredient that will get our work sold.