You may not have the most original idea in the world, and that’s okay! (Some would argue that there aren’t any more original ideas left!)
How many cartoons are about a kid and his or her non-human best friend?
Remember when Hollywood was making all those cop plus dog/child/robot/chicken sandwich/alien movies? Clearly, demand was there, at least for a moment.
My point is that it’s all about execution. Nobody is going to make a kid and a non-human best friend show quite like you!
The most basic way to get attention is to break a pattern.
If you saw a flock of geese flying in a V shape, you wouldn’t look twice. But what if they were flying in the shape of a hashtag? You’d snap a picture and post it online as fast as your Wi-Fi let you, wouldn’t you?
We become more aware when things change. A sudden downpour on a sunny day. Your phone dies in the middle of a call. You accidentally eat a piece of fried okra mistaking it for popcorn chicken.
The same thing happens for execs when they hear a fantastic pitch after a string of mediocre ones.
You’re aiming for “familiar, with a twist”. The execs need to be able to wrap their brains around your characters and show concept. You’ve got five minutes to make an impression before they dismiss it as “nothing new.”
But don’t go too crazy now!
Pitching a Star Wars meets Hannah Montana meets Denver the Last Dinosaur (Google it…better yet, don’t) is going to be a hard sell.
But not impossible.
Be careful though. The more unique your project is, the harder it is to pitch because there isn’t a precedent to show it can be successful.
As you prepare your pitch, try to anticipate any tough questions and objections.
Execs try to poke holes in your bright idea because their bosses will do the same to them when they pitch your idea.
Take a few minutes to brainstorm objections beforehand so you can answer them with the confidence of a mountain goat with a jetpack.
Pitch your idea to close friends who can act as a first audience. They should ask you hard questions, and you should ask them if anything was unclear, or flat out lame.
Be ready if an exec tells you that your show is just like another show out there. You’ll then reply, “Sure, there are some similarities, but my show has ____” (ex. Talking hats that breakdance!)
Better yet, beat them to the punch while showing that you’ve done your research. “These hats are slacker best friends, which has already been done in _____, but that’s where the similarities end.” Then rattle off two or three specific examples, and bingo – objective cleared! The exec is now armed with the information to answer those same objections when she’s asked.
That is how your show idea can stand out.