Last week at Screen Forever Sally Riley, ABC’s Head of Drama and Rick Kalowski, Head of Comedy were both asked what they are looking for.
Despite both appearing on different panels, there was some synergy especially around ABC having early involvement on projects.
“I’m looking for character-driven shows set in unique situations,” Riley answered.
“It can just be in a family or something but it’s the treatment of that which is interesting to me… th people that’s affecting and the relationships.
“We like to be in as early as possible. So we’ll take a pitch document and have a look at it. If you’ve got a series outline, we don’t necessarily need a treatment. Sometimes people bring scripts and that can be good. We’ll take any of that stuff -we take pitches all the time.
“We have a portal where you can submit your stuff.”
However she expressed some concerns around those looking for a face to face meeting from strangers.
“I do get frustrated sometimes when people I don’t know will call me, or send an email asking ‘Can I come in and pitch to you?’ I go, ‘Send me what you’ve got and then we’ll decide,’ but they refuse to send it. They just want to meet me,” she explained.
“It’s not hard to get a pitch meeting with me but I have a team of people, EPs you can met with as well. If I can read an outline or a pitch document, I can tell you if it’s for us or not straight away. So we don’t have to waste each other’s time.”
ABC spends 18 months – 2 years to develop new drama projects that have been pitched.
Rick Kalowski reiterated ABC’s a desire for early involvement, but had a warning for new producers.
“It’s your responsibility as a producer or writer to know what we’ve recently made and what we’re making. But you can’t possibly know what we’re developing, and we’re developing a lot, so we don’t want anybody to waste their time and bring us an idea which is too close to what we’re already developing,” he said.
“That said our position is pretty simple: if you’ve got a track record, or somebody else, and we know you can execute, we will develop wth you from an idea.”
From unknown creatives a video or a script demonstrates an ability to execute, however it’s important to know the ABC schedule.
“It is amazing the amount of people who come in the door and say ‘This is an idea you’ve never heard of before.’ And when I say ‘What’s it about?’ they say ‘It’s about 2 friends, they could be comedians, who live in a small town in Tasmania and they work as real estate agents.’
“When I say ‘We have a show called Rosehaven‘ they say ‘I don’t know, I don’t watch Television.’
“You hear it less and less but people proudly tell you they don’t watch Television, they don’t know what the shows are. They don’t know anybody else’s shows.
“The number of people who brought us The Letdown as an idea -even after The Letdown was on the air!
“Or they say ‘It’s Utopia but it’s like in a government office.’
“That is Utopia!”