You wake up one morning with an idea for an awesome reality TV show and you rush to write it down. The journey to create reality television for network television has begun.
When developing show ideas, be it-narrative or reality television, the best place to start is with your characters. Narratives are easy, you can make up anything you want. One of your characters can be a talking mouse or a flying baby elephant. Granted you will need a pretty good animation department but you get the point. For reality television, it’s a bit more complicated because you are dealing with real people. With narrative work, casting will begin once you have developed the characters. With reality, television, you have to find those characters to develop the show.
When developing reality television for networks, an idea is not enough, you need to have great cast involved. A cast that the masses will be able to relate to. Lauren Conrad was a high school girl struggling with the woes of growing pains. Good and bad relationships are something we all experience, but the raw sincerity of Lauren is what made the show special. You could see the hurt and joy she experienced on the show. This allowed viewers to care about what she experienced. This is what made it a great show.
Once you have a great cast attached, you should think about collaborating with a great unscripted or reality show production company. When we got our first deal with E!, they partnered us with an established and “approved” production company called Intuitive Entertainment. Approved production companies are companies that have worked with Networks for years and have built up a certain amount of trust for being able to deliver compelling video content.
Sure you will want to run the show yourself. Unfortunately, it does not work like that.
The first thing you will learn when developing content is that you should not be too attached to an idea. Anyone who has ever collaborated on a creative piece knows that ideas, storylines change. When creating reality television shows for Networks, these changes can come from your collaboration partner or the network development team. Sometimes it will feel like changes/notes are coming from both at the same time. That’s ok. Stay calm. The most important thing is to digest all the notes and be respectful.
However. If you feel strongly about a particular creative point, stand your ground. Trust me, it is better to find a new deal then to completely lose your vision. First, make 100% sure that the notes you are receiving are stupid before you jump ship and close the door completely. Remember, it can be cold outside, and nothing creates more heat then having any show on the air, rather than no show on the air.
As mentioned in the previous section, you will receive notes on how your production partner or Network partner will want to make adjustments. Understand this. Producing content for network television is the most collaborative event you will ever be part of. Your production partner will have 3-4 members on their development team, the Network will have 4-5 members on the development team. On top of that, the Executives will want to chime in. Your show, from inception, was told through the mind of one creative with a specific outlook on life.
Each person involved in the production process has a perception, a view on life and how a story should be told. It is your job, to listen to all creative thoughts, then communicate effectively with your team. Stay involved with every change and creative decision. Each change impacts the long term story, perhaps immediately. Take every suggestion into consideration. Reject stupid ideas, but if an idea has ANY merit, consider it, and start a dialogue on how it can serve a purpose in the overall world you are trying to bring to life.
This is the best part of the whole process, you have developed your show for years and now it’s going to see the light of day. Hopefully, you structured your deal to your liking. These deal points would have been addressed initially in a deal memo, then your final producer’s agreement. If you or someone you know has a great reality tv show idea, share this link using the buttons at the beginning of the article and contact us, we know a thing or two.