Write and Shoot Your Own – But Know Your Audience First!

I make a big point at the end of my book Writing the Pilot (currently available as an e-book from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, soon in paperback) that writing a spec pilot should not be an end, but a beginning. Technology for both filmmaking and distribution is so cheap these days there’s no reason to leave your script gathering dust on a shelf when your filmed show can be grabbing audiences on the web.

Of course finding that audience is always going to be the hard part. One quick shortcut? Find a bunch of viewers who feel like there’s nothing on that reflects their lives and write a show just for them.

That’s what Greg and Jennifer Willits are doing. They’re shooting the pilot for a new sitcom for and about Catholic families.

“There is a lot of Catholic catechesis out there but not a lot of Catholic entertainment. We want to prove that it can be done,” Greg said. “This is going to be a pilot, simply a proof of concept to hopefully inspire others in Catholic and secular media to push the envelope a bit creatively.”

I’ve got to admit, I’m not going to be going out of my way to hunt this down on the web, or to call DirecTV and demand they add Catholic TV to my channel list. But that’s exactly the point. I’m not their audience. They don’t need me to watch.

The Willits figured out who would want to watch their series and then set about writing and producing it for them. And even better, they found a large, wealthy institution that wants to reach the same audience, and seems to be providing the funding.

Will it work? Who knows? But it will have a chance to succeed or fail on its own merits… unlike a script that’s sitting in a drawer.

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