In our recent panel discussion at Our Stories Festival (watch here) featuring writer-director Adjani Salmon, Jon Petrie (Director of Comedy Commissioning) and Tanya Quereshi (Head of BBC Comedy) we really broke down and explored the journey from creating content online to having your own commissioned TV series.
Below are 5 of the major keys:
1. Network Across: It is ‘who you know’
One of the key things Adjani showed was that he just kept meeting people! It was literally the friend, of a friend, of a friend… Of a friend who knew the agent that would initially go on to sign him!
Added to this was his continual meeting of production companies until he found the right fit in Big Deal productions who helped get it off the ground (boop boop).
Talent and craft is definitely the foundation of a long and successful career but building connections is just as crucial as your creative talent. Who you know can open doors, provide opportunities, and lead to fruitful collaborations. Realest talk… go to those industry events, reach out to fellow creators, and forge relationships with other industry professionals. Networking isn’t just about making contacts; it’s about nurturing genuine relationships that can help you on your journey.
2. Understand the Format of TV
While online sketches allow for quick, bite-sized content, TV is an entirely different beast.
It’s a medium that demands a longer format, where characters and stories need to be fully fleshed out. Creators should take the time to understand the intricacies of TV storytelling. Your content may be brilliant in short bursts, but for television, you gotta develop and sustain narratives over extended episodes or seasons.
3. Writing is Rewriting: Your Last Draft is Never Your Last Draft
No matter how brilliant your initial script may be, it’s essential to embrace the mantra that writing is rewriting. Adjani mentioned that him and co-writer Ali Hughes did 45 drafts of Dreaming Whilst Black before resubmitting it to their BBC exec.
Also don’t shy away from feedback and constructive criticism; instead, use them to improve your work. The path to a commissioned series is often paved with countless revisions.
4. Make What You Want to Make
One thing that both execs echoed was that they’re looking for content that stands out, something they haven’t seen before.
So instead of trying to spend time crafting a pitch of what they ‘might’ want, focus on creating what you want to make. (and make it good). Authenticity and originality resonate with audiences and industry decision-makers alike.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and be true to your unique voice.
5. Don’t Stop!
Whilst we’re all happy for Adjani’s success and journey, we can easily forget it took 7 years for him to get to this point.
This serves as a testament to the reality that success requires unwavering determination and patience. It’s easy to become discouraged when things don’t happen quickly, but the lesson here is clear: don’t stop. Keep honing your craft, keep networking, and keep creating content.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your TV series, but we’re looking forward to seeing it!
You can also watch the full video here
Support and resources:
For those looking to delve deeper into the world of writing and pitching for TV, featuring opportunities from BBC Comedy, Channel 4 and more click here
See you on the big screen/s.