To Pilot or not to Pilot?
Sometimes a new show succeeds without any Pilot, and a network has to stick to their guns.
In the USA TV Pilots are practically mandatory before a new show ever hits screens -but in Australia where it’s far less common, new formats can be crushed in a matter of weeks.
So should networks actually invest more money to mount Pilots before a new show hits the screen?
That was a question tackled recently at the Screen Forever conference.
Ben Ulm, Head of Reality & Factual, ITV Studios Australia said the cost of producing shows in Australia requires that light entertainment shows become stripped across two or three nights.
“There’s been some brave decisions made in the last few years where shows are launched on air without the benefit of being developed in other territories. When they fell, they fell badly. There’s no real Off-Broadway in this country. You think of some of the successful original ideas from this country, from The Panel to The Project to Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation … there are lots of examples of that. Maybe there’s a clue there.
“But a lot of them get to develop on air… a strong premise good cast, but it’s pretty cut-throat.
At 1 minute past 9 careers swing. It’s ironic because the data across a month now is much more meaningful than what happens at 1 minute past 9. But we’e all conditioned to look at those ratings, and either have a good day or a bad day (as a result).”
Stephen Tate, Head of Entertainment and Factual Programs, Network 10 said none of those 3 shows were really piloted, but the network made a commitment to stick with them.
“Sometimes I think a Pilot is a reason to not proceed. I know that’s quite a controversial thing to say. But it gives people a reason to stand back and fold their arms and say ‘There’s so many reasons why this won’t work.’
“Sometimes I think you’ve just got to screw your courage to the sticking place and make a show, make it work, and keep adjusting it on air as we did with Have You Been Paying Attention? Sometimes you just have to stick with it and hone it so that it can actually end up being the powerhouse that it is.”