Think Different

Everyone’s trying to do the same thing, and they’re not getting anywhere because they can’t distinguish themselves from everyone else who’s trying to do the same thing.

I’ve been seeking out advice from experienced production companies about Highwaymen.  Both have gone far out of their way to be helpful, and I’m grateful for their completely selfless efforts.  Both have had hit shows on Canadian television, with modest international success for good measure.  Both are struggling to find traction with their follow-up efforts.  The industry is even tougher than it was just a few years ago they say.

Still, they tell me to keep believing in myself and my project.  No one else will champion the series with the same passion as me.  The writing is good — better than 95% of the stuff they’re forced to read.  I’m talented and show much potential.  They also don’t want anything to do with my show beyond providing the odd bit of mentorship.

One says a three act structure for a half hour drama series is too unusual for television.  The other says a 50-something protagonist is too old for my intended broadcaster.  Not only should I go younger, but I should also have him doing different things.  Also, a show set in Canada will not sell well in other markets.

Neither knows anything about football.  Neither had anything to say about the story itself.

The Canadian Football League averaged 804,000 viewers per game, over 144 games in 2010.  My series is about a fictional team in the CFL.  Add the drama, tragedy, and comedy angles, on top of the football action, and I’ll bring in another 500,000 viewers.  1.3 million viewers per episode would put Highwaymen in the top 15 watched TV shows in Canada per week.  That list includes CSI, House, and many others.

I know my show is different from everything else on the television.  That’s the point.  The market is over saturated with that other stuff.  It’s time to try something new.  I can create a hit show in Canada and I don’t care how the rest of the world receives it.

The timing couldn’t be better.  The new head of CTV is the former head of CTV sports.  The CFL has never been more popular on television (which broadcasts on CTV’s sister network).  Two full episodes are written.  Decisions about the 2012-13 season are going to be made soon.  It’s time to get something in front of the right people.

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