This video hit the online waves yesterday, touted as a behind the scenes rarity that only folks at Comic Con got to see until it got out.
It’s a fun watch but I’ll come back to that.
What it really represents is how your stories are thought of by execs. If you look, you can see the ABC logo in the corner and at the very end is a commercial from ABC culled from the footage in the video.
ABC/Disney/The Muppets are steered entirely by marketing – so much so, the marketing department has input on movie and television titles and sometimes story.
Someone had the idea to let it out online – not as a promo – but as a story “How The Muppets convinced ABC they deserved a show”
Fooled or not, like it or not, it worked. But not because they are marketing geniuses; it worked because of the content in the pitch (yes, this is the very thing that they touted it as). Surely, ABC didn’t NEED the proof of concept from characters of such recognition – but you do.
The thing that IS brilliant about this is how it so adeptly sets up the world, the characters, the dilemma AND the series to follow. A lot of TV shows shoot (and air) what is called a premise pilot – particularly if there is a lot world setting up to do. The idea is that by the end of the pilot you will understand the characters and the rules and challenges of their world so at the end you essentially have a ‘to be continued’ as the main characters embark on their journey – alleviating the dreaded exposition of back story we are often laden with in all stories.
So what’s to learn from the-Muppet-farce-viral-proof-of-concept-pitch?
Imagine you’ve never met these characters and look at from a pure story and the delivery of information perspective:
- The world of the writers’ room… the chaos the characters; some sleeping, some stirring up shite – nobody doing any real work.
- The main character enters (Kermit) he greets some by name and some are actually used as props to quiet the room (revealing more characters) and brings the room to the order of business at hand; first we get a joke (a button to the character intro) then the premise of the new show which, intros more characters.
- Another character introduces how the series would be presented stylistically
- Which uses another joke to demonstrate said style suggestion and intro another character
- An incredibly obscure character asks if the show would include incredibly obscure characters (fabulous exposition while making us laugh).
- We get another element introduced by said element (with famous celebrity) AND another joke. THIS IS ALL UNDER THE 3 MINUTE MARK
- We get the main obstacle in form of a joke (Piggy is not doing the show).
- We get the back story of the main character and the main obstacle in one quick exchange.
- We witness the main obstacle (and the style)
- The main obstacle is clearly an issue for all characters in the world
- We get some insight into the mind of the main obstacle via her own words
- The main character meets the main obstacle (AT THE MIDPOINT) with a joke
- A secondary character is seen in the real world just as the premise set up promised – AND the stakes if the premise fails – with a joke.
- More stakes are revealed for other characters – with a joke.
- The unraveling of the main obstacle’s actions.
- More characters working on the premise are given the bad news of the obstacle’s actions – each character has personality and jokes.
- The main obstacle shows up on her own terms – with a joke.
- The main character realizes that in order for him and the others to be successful so does the obstacle he loves to hate and hates to love (lots of jokes) and this is the to be continued moment.
So the pitch as it is, is actually set up in a perfect 3-act structure. It’s a comedy so each beat ends in a joke, (so if you were pitching a horror, each beat would end in a scare and so on).
This format can also be transcribed to fit ANY synopsis or pitch you use to promote your work. The bottom line is a good pitch IS good marketing.
Who knew The Muppets would have so much to teach a grown up?