We’ve all heard of Netflix, and more so, we’ve all likely spent hours sucked into the world of one TV show or another that makes up the steaming system’s extensive collection of content. With 75 million yearly subscribers, Netflix is a television powerhouse, home to some of the most high profile shows in existence.
It is every television show maker’s dream to see their show in the homes of millions of people across the world, and there is really no place more desirable to make this happen than through Netflix…but getting this done is an incredibly difficult task. How do you make it happen?
It starts with the idea. You are going to need something pretty damn unique, as the tv world has never been richer in creativity than it is today. But fresh ideas are out there, and if you think you’ve got a good one then hold on to it tightly. You are going to have to flesh out your concept in detail, familiarizing yourself with all of the things your show would encompass, from characters to setting to style to plot. Getting your prospective show out there does not mean you need to write an entire series worth of content, oftentimes you need only a great, well-thought out idea to hook the right people who can get you where you want to go.
But, more often than not, you as the writer will need to develop a coherent script for, at the very least, the pilot episode of your show. TV Production companies are rarely interested in an “idea”, as everyone has ideas. If you are able to buckle down and put your idea into a developed, thoughtful script, preferably a couple of episodes, you are much more likely to catch the eye of a production company. These people want to see that you have thought out your idea and have enough material to turn it into a potentially long-lasting television show.
You are then going to want to get in touch with a producer or agent that best matches the direction you see your show heading in. You should do extensive research to determine which production companies and studios would be a good fit, who specifically you should contact, how they like to be queried (email, fax, mail, etc.) and what exactly they are looking for in terms of content (comedy, drama, sci-fi, etc.) The absolute best case scenario is to pitch in person, if you can manage to find a connection to a producer or somehow manage to arrange an in person meeting—it is the easiest way to passionately pitch your show, and you will be there to be certain nothing is misunderstood and the agent/producer is clear on your ideas and visions. There are a number of questions you should absolutely be able to answer about your show before heading into a pitch. These include:
- How are your primary characters and your characters’ world unique?
- How are these great, complex, conflicted, multi-layered, perhaps flawed characters ones that the audience is able to become emotionally invested in?
- Why do we care and why do we need to tell this story?
- What’s the tone of the show? Be able to compare to a show or movie if possible.
- Season one primary character arcs.
- An overview of the first season plot.
- How is this series sustainable over 100 episodes? (this is the golden mark to reach, because it’s where prod co’s can syndicate out the series; if you can’t show at least a shred of hope to make 100 eps, it’s barely worth thinking about doing).
- How is this show different than shows of the same genre that are on the air now? Specificity is key.
- Who are your dream writers/directors/cast? (almost every single tv show on the air has multiple writers/directors – so pick a few who are working on shows right now and think they’d do well writing your show).
Now, if you’ve got an agent/producer, preferably one who has ties with Netflix already, you are on track to getting your show on to Netflix’s radar. Your form of representation will assist in readying your project to be pitched to the network. If this is successful, you will be able to sell your show to Netflix for a discussed sum of money, as well as negotiate a contract for an order number of episodes and compensation as per the terms of the agreement. From there, it can take any amount of time to get your show up onto the TV screen, if it even makes it to that point. The TV industry is incredibly fickle, with shows being picked up, produced and fully made only to be cancelled at the final moment.
There are no set steps to creating a show and successfully getting it into the most sought-after streaming service. Hundreds of creators have taken different routes, as a lot of it depends on connections/chance encounters, and what works for some people will not work for the other. It is important to dedicate everything you have to creating your show if this is something you truly want to do, and following your gut and intuition in terms of choosing a next step is incredibly important.
But, hopefully by following these steps you will give yourself the best possible chance to make your tv-show worthy idea a reality.