Pitch a superhero TV Show
Wicked: A supernatural drama
Pitch a superhero TV show. Raymond Munoz wants to make a supernatural drama about an adopted teenage witch looking for her parents. He pitches the TV show to producer Simon Howley and screenwriter J.E. Clarke.
Season 3: Listen to the episode
Pitch a superhero TV Show - Transcript
Feedback from Simon Howley - Scripted TV and film producer
I think Raymond's pitch is good. I think there's a really good idea trying to get out there. It's a brief pitch, and he tells a story very well, which is, you know, it's all about storytelling.
I think it's perfect for that elusive young adult audience, that kind of things that my 16-year-old daughter would watch. There's a certain amount of, I think you'd mention it to Raymond, of Harry Potter. So there's a certain amount of familiarity, whether that's good or bad, I don't know. But I like the world he's created.
I like the voodoo in there. I like that she's adopted. I like the family arguments within it. Also, you know, for me what the pitch is lacking, and it's maybe something go back to Raymond with. What's the series arc? Where does it go? What are the dilemmas? Where's the Jeopardy? That's a word I hate. But where, you know, where does this series take us?
So that's what he's gotta work on, he's not actually put pen to paper or written anything yet. Does that matter?
I don't know much about Raymond and his background. To help sell this, you need a writing sample. Whether that was a full script or whether it was just a couple of scenes.
Is it a US network show?
We also need some idea of where he sees the show playing. Does he see it as a US network show? Does he see it on high-end Cable TV? Does he see it as a streaming show? What length is it? A 30 or 60 minute TV show? Is it serialised?
What about the title? Wicked?
Another title would work. I think it works as a working title. You know, Wicked is a good title, but what's it's saying about the series? What's going to jump out of that EPG? You know of that streaming guide.
I think as the series idea develops another title may come, but I think Wicked will work as a working title.
His idea is a sort of mixture of witchcraft and superhero fantasy. Is that going to sit together?
Superheroes means Lycra and capes
I think it can in a weird way. To be honest, I think if it's superheroes, for me that means Lyrca and capes. And I don't think this is a Lycra in capes show. What is the difference between superheroes on witches? I think maybe, you know, I think maybe you're right. You need to know what it is. Is it witchcraft, or is it superhero show?
I think superheroes and witches don't quite work, although I do like the idea of it.
You've produced movies, you've produced network dramas. Where should he go with this?
Well, I'd like to see a statement of intent from Raymond. To be honest, I'd like to see how the series pans out. For me, it feels like a streamer show, which will be Netflix and Amazon. So I'd like to see a treatment to help progress it further and a writing sample.
Package your pitch with casting and directors
One thing that we're doing at the moment with a couple of shows is we're looking at casting. So what would those casting ideas be? The next stage, after looking at a treatment and a writing sample will be possibly going out to talent and try to get a package together.
We've just got a couple of shows that we've packaged with the writers and directors or writers on talent, and that's what we're looking to do. We're looking to put something together. So the buyers in this very competitive market find it really hard to say no.
I'd also want to know where it's set? Is it in Los Angeles, New York? Is it set in some kind of netherworld that you don't know? Whereabouts in the USA is it.
Feedback from screenwriter J.E. Clarke
I think it's got a lot of potential but it's not fleshed out enough and distinct enough yet to break free from the pack of Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed and everything in that category. It's like writing about something about mutants who have to make their way in the world, and it's too close to X-men.
His central character, Cleo, is this teenager with magical powers hunting for her parents. You had some interesting ideas about, actually where he could take it?
Making your characters live and breathe
When I was hearing his pitch, the point that I perked up was the fact that it was an adopted kid looking to find out what their heritage is.
In everything that I write, I usually throw in some political commentary and the observation about you know, the human and I think that's what makes my characters live and breathe. So that's the unique thread that I see in his pitch.
There are so many issues involved with being adopted and wanting to find your biological parents knowing where you came from? Why were you let go? Maybe you have a medical problem and you need to find out if there's something that genetically that needs to be tested, you know? But you don't know unless you reach your biological parents.
If you focus on that and then just overlay the magic and the world of the magic on top, it would really make this stand out, as opposed to simply being gosh, this is Buffy but with incantation.
Finding a unique angle on a genre
His idea includes voodoo and serial killers you must like the sound of that being a horror writer?
Oh, yeah, believe me, I like my splatter. And with that too, you still want to make sure that you take it from a unique angle because there's been a million serial killer things out there. Look at Dexter.
So he's got to find an original route for this idea. He's got to steer it away from the kind of Buffy, Harry Potter world. He's got to write it and then he's got to just keep going and try to sell it or write something else. Is that a summary of your advice?
Also, there's something that I see a lot of new screenwriters do, and I cautioned them not to. They kind of view their characters as like, you know, cut out pawns. It's like, OK, I've got my hero here and I've got my side comedic actor here and they go way too hard for formula.
I really stress that any writer needs to get into the actual head of every single character they have and think, what would I genuinely do if I were them? And then let the characters tell you where it's going to go.