Wednesday Workshop: Bible Class – Report

Posted on: Thursday 02 July 2015 6:57am by Tom Jordan


 To create a strong pitch bible, you need to:

  • Identify your target audience
  • Identify your target investor/broadcaster
  • Identify the competition
  • Do your homework & do your groundwork
  • Brainstorm with your creative team
  • Understand your property inside out

 In temperatures that could melt Sheffield steel, a hive of creative minds gathered in a darkened Hub 3 to learn from the experts about how to create a great pitch bible.

This four-hour session was a workshop of biblical proportions, and it was testament to the wealth of expert knowledge that the only (temporary) exodus was for the tea break. That’s the puns out of the way, now down to business.

 The workshop was split into two parts, with the first session a talk from each of the five-strong expert panel about what they look for in a good pitch bible.

Some themes were common. A bible needs to develop along with your idea. In the first incarnation, for that initial pitch, a bible should be concise. That’s not to say your idea and story world shouldn’t be fully developed in your own mind, rather that all that information doesn’t need to be presented on the first meeting. After you’ve won the initial interest from the network, you can expand the bible with episode ideas, character development, and more visuals, all of which will help bring the series to fruition.

The universal message to would-be pitchers from all panel members was to properly know your audience, and make sure that comes through strongly in your bible.

Among the many other individual tips – or golden nuggets, as the panelists liked to call them – were the following:

  • Screenwriter Alan Gilby said his idea development is all about creating worlds – think of your show as a conceptual totality.
  • Beth Parker, Disney Channels EMEA, said building relationships with the people you want to pitch to at events such as CMC is an ideal platform for selling your idea.
  • Dave Skwarczek, creative director of Eat Your Lunch, said character development is key to a good pitch: “Relatable characters’ are bundles of desire, fear and charm that the audience wants to be or hang out with.”
  • Writer and director Tony Collingwood talked about two versions of a bible: the Pitch Bible, a concise selling tool with art that gives a clear overview of the show, and a Writer’s Bible, which is a working tool that contains the rules of the game for the development of the show.
  • Alison Stewart, CBeebies, said that the design tone of the bible should reflect the tone of the show, and that when pitching to CBeebies early conversations can be useful; they’d rather receive a one or two-page concept initially that can then be developed further if they like the idea.

Part two saw the delegates tasked with using the advice they’d heard to produce their own pitch bibles.

We split into five groups, each with an ‘expert consultant’ on board, and were asked to create a pitch bible for a retelling of Treasure Island to a specific target audience.

It was speed development at its finest, or as writer-turned-compere Alan Gilbey put it: “A year and a half of development in an hour and a half”.

We brainstormed to produce a first-draft bible, based on key questions about character, relationships and story goals. Then three people moved on to the next table to pitch it to another group, who were now transformed into no-nonsense executives giving the idea their earnest scrutiny.

Next we moved on to the next phase, developing the second-stage bible and programme ideas in our newly merged groups, before some brave volunteers pitched the final ideas to the whole room.

There was some excellent work, and confident pitches, with perhaps the over-riding theme that emerged being to make the principal Treasure Island character, Jim, female – Jem, Mij (Jim backwards), and excellent taglines including such as ‘It’s hard to be a girl in a pirate world’… Perhaps an idea worth putting in a real pitch bible?

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Tom Jordan

About the author

Tom Jordan

Freelance, Writer

Tom is a freelance writer and editor based in Sheffield. He has over a decade of experience in travel publishing, writing for National Geographic Traveller, Sunday Times Travel Magazine and CNN, among others, and editing for travel guide books. His recent focus has also been as a development editor in… Read more