I got this question recently:

“Apparently, submitting a plain idea without any scripts is sometimes valid for television programming. Tell me if I’m wrong about this. Now, I don’t want to do something stupid, so that’s why I am asking a professional in the matter.

I have a great idea for a show, but I don’t want it to end up with just any people producing it. I am a huge fan of Nickelodeon, and I wanted to submit my show idea to them. This is their FAQ post:

Q. What steps do I need to take to submit an idea I have for a show?
A. If you have a programming idea, you must have a licensed agent or attorney contact Nickelodeon Development in writing at Nickelodeon 1515 Broadway, New York, New York 10036 to request a “Submission Release” form. The proposal must be accompanied by the signed submission release for review. If not, the proposal will not be considered.

So I need an agent, I think. Does the Hollywood Creative Directory supply a list of agents, or only producers and such? Do I really need an agent for this particular instance, or is it just to scare people like me away?

I know my chances are low. But if things go as planned, I want my show animated in a specific drawing style that they’ve used before. Is it possible to specify this without creating a turn-off?

Also, since it’s just an idea and not a script, do I need a synopsis?”

First, if you haven’t already done so, read my post, How to create an original television series (breaking into television writing).

If you’re an established television writer you might be able to go in and pitch your idea to some studio executives and have them respond favorably. But even then, it’s a long shot. Creating your own television show is the holy grail of the entertainment industry so there are lots of very smart, very talented people with a lot of experience trying to do it. And even if you get a network to shoot your pilot there are a lot of pilots that never actually get aired. The point is, what your’re about to try is maybe the hardest thing in the entertainment industry – and that’s saying a lot because there a ton of really difficult things to accomplish in the industry.

With that said, I’m all for following your dreams and going out and trying to make things happen for yourself. So good for you.

So to answer your questions specifically…

If you don’t have a script or even a synopsis what exactly do you have as an idea? The more concrete your story idea is the better off you’ll be. So if you can write the pilot episode and a few additional episodes it gives the studio executives a lot more to read and get a feel for what it is you’re trying to do. If all you have is a few sentences describing your idea I can’t see it being taken very seriously, but who knows.

Yes, the Hollywood Creative Directory does have an Agents/Managers version which you could use to find an agent. But it’s going to be very difficult to find an agent with nothing more than a story idea. In fact, I doubt you’ll find any interest from agents and managers. But again, who knows. If I were you I would do a Google search for “entertainment lawyers” and contact a few lawyers and see how much they would charge you to make this submission to Nickelodeon. I would guess you’ll be able to find one who will probably do it for less than $1,000. Even at $300 per hour they should be able to make this submission in a few hours. That’s going to be the quickest easiest way to get your idea to Nickelodeon.

If you try and submit your story idea without an agent or lawyer there’s a good chance it will just be thrown away, but again, you never know who might read it and pass it along. You might try to submit it on your own first and see what happens. If it gets rejected then try and find a lawyer to submit it for you.

I wouldn’t mention the drawing style at this stage of the process. Unless it really adds to the pitch, it’s not worth mentioning. You’re main goal is to get a meeting or at least a conference call with them about your project and at that time you can tell them what your aesthetic vision is for the project.

Good luck!

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