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Must We Produce All Episodes Of Our Sitcom At Once?

You guys know I've been trying to go into sitcom production for a while, right? Well, recently, I found an upcoming writer-director who has written a 13 episode sitcom that's pretty nice. So I offered to get involved in it.

Being a cautious businessman, I told him to let us fully produce the 1 to 3 best episodes first and then show them to an audience to make sure that what we're producing is ok. But he's insisting that we must produce everything at once.

According to him, there's nothing one can do with 3 or 4 episodes of a show. According to him, advertisers will only sponsor a show that's already on air, and for a TV station to pick up the show, it must have at least 13 episodes. He's also concerned about producing all the episodes before January which is when advertisers usually start spending.

According to me, going ahead to produce 13 episodes without a proper feedback cycle is overconfidence at its worst.

Who do you think is right? People in the TV business, we need your opinion!

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18 answers

Thanks guys. Well, I'm hiring writers to come up with a new script, since this writer isn't selling.

Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested: "Let's Create A New Sitcom" - For Writers

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Seun, pls dont give up. I know how it feels; i went down this road before I could make a breakthrough. I applaud your decision to suspend shooting for now.

Pls get all the knowledge you can get before you go back to it. In fact, get on as mant sets as you possibly can. watch others do it.

Dont worry if you think what they are doing is crap; even there there's something to learn.

As i promised earlier I'll furnish you with info the moment the trainings commencenwithy my 'boss'.

Keep hope alive.

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Then look for someone who can write more than 13 scripts in less than 3 months so that your sitcom can constantly be on air.

It's one thing to write a script; and it's another thing to follow up. If you can't follow up what you've wrote, your name would vanish into the thin air.

Look at super story, it's been running for 6 yeras why? because Adenuga was able to follow up his story.

I want the best for your sitcom, and I would also advice you to look for a writer who can follow up with stories so that once one finishes, another one would begin. Once sponsors see the way your stories are, believe me they would be willing to sponsor your program.

Good luck.

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Thanks, guys. Believe it or not, I only posted this thread because the other guy asked me to. I think I've lost interest and I've gone back to developing my own script. It's a pity that my writing is "not even good".

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Seun, the guy you met wants to take advantage of you.

Again, you cannot produce 13 episodes of a sitcom before January 2008, except craps and scraps.

From the biggest TV producers and directors to the biggest advertisers, they will tell you what CrazyT and I have said.

Seun, I have told you everything and even offered you the services of FARUK LASAKI.

If the so called producer/director hears the name of FARUK LASAKI, he will pee in his pants.

God bless you.

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@ Seun

I'm just seeing this now. We have talked on another thread before and you know about me and and the little things I have done in this line.

First advice: I hope you started marketing the sitcom from the script. What I mean is that I hope the scripting was done in a way that is will make the sitcom marketable to a Nigerian audience. this is crucial and sadly, it is missed by many who venture intoproduction. If you want, send me an episode of the sitcom and i'll let you know my thoughts.

secondly: Take that director's advice; it is safer and cheaper to shoot 13 eps rather than 3. See, dont trust too much the opinion of ad agencies. sponsorship is not always by quality of the programme. Those guys most times give ads to people who are willing to give them a cut irrespective of the quality of the programme. dont fall into this pit; it is self-distructive on the long run.

@ crazy T: I do not have 20 years experience in the industry but i know for sure that the era of NBL giving a soap 28million is certainly over. spot ads is the in thing now as you can see from the diff ads on soaps today.

Basically seun, nobody is gonna give u 28million!

Take a look at the diff soaps on TV today. we all agree that many are crap but have u noticed that some of the crappiest ones are the ones with the most ads? That should tell you something about how ads are given these days. Its one of two ways: get in bed with the ad guys, give them a large cut and you will get ads for ur sitcome. Or fund your prog for a while without compromising and you will attract the ads when the companies see that you have a large following and they have something to gain.

Let me give you some advice as given to me by my directing teacher, someone you all know very well:

1. never work with stars; work with artistes.

2. pay Attention To Details( ATD)

3. Dont compromise on your vision

4. Know the demography of the nigerian Tv audience: women and children are the ones who really watch soaps and stuff so include them in tour story.

5.entertain, dont preach

6.respect your audience, never take them for granted. its because of them that you are getting sponsorship!

7. a bad script will never make a good film.

I rest for now. Pls mail me shamanmomoh@yahoo.com. if there's anything i can do to help i will be glad to.

By the way, who is this writer-director? Let me know his name privately so I can say what i know about his/her capabilities if I know.

Take care bro.

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Thanks, twinstaiye. How I wish someone in the TV industry or an advertising agency will say something.

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Seun, I may not be working in movie industry, but I sure know as an ardent TV Viewer and a lover of a sitcom that Nigerian audiences prefer a one hour soap to a 30 minute sitcom. I however say this without prejudice to what you are embarking on, just airing my views as a lover of Nigeria TV programmes. This probably explains why I dont watch naija sitcom like 'Everyday people' 'This life', etc. But Viewers prefers a 30 minutes episodes that ends compare to the ones that will be continued next week. That probably also explains why viewers enjoy watching 'my mother', 'one love', and of course to some extent 'papa ajasco and company'.

As regards what you are calling for opinion on, I will say from experience that a already produced 13 episodes would be prefer than just a 3 mere episodes. Have you also thought about it from this point of view that, an executive producer would not want to release cash to a production that is not completed fearing that his investment quota might be made away with. Take a risk and plunge into producing all the 13 episodes, it also saves time and cost effective. You also dont have anything to lose though, you may even ended up selling the right to DSTV, Hinolly, or even Trend Nollywood or better still mass produce it into CD or VHS.

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Thanks a million for your comments. Am I right to assume that crazyT is the only respondent from the industry?

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i think doing it all at once is the best thing cuz 1-3 esposides shouldn't decide whether the audiences like the show or not. after a whole season (13 episodes) the audience will then decide if the like the characters, the story line and stuff like that.

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Would it work if, instead of pitching the entire series to a TV station, you produced a two-part pilot which could stand on its own as a comedy programme, i.e. one without successive episodes? Surely, TV stations do air such programmes? Then if it worked, you could pitch the series which would be based on the pilot.

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@topic

It will be good for you to find out from these guys who are signing millions of naira now how they started, especially one of the hottest kids on the block; Kayode Peters of FLATMATES.

Zeb Ejiro has a stunning record of 3 most popullar film makers in Nigeria and CrazyT is trying to compare you to him. Maybe you should equally try and see if you will get your own N28bill from NBL with only 3 episodes.

For God's sake Nigeria is not USA. And whoever knows the workings of the Nigerian film industry should know that ZEB got that favour from NBL becauese of his records in the film industry, not because of the script(wack). He has never been good in scripts except directing and production (in the Naija standard).

People like Adenuga of super story will only need to say that he intends starting another sitcom in two years time and he will be signing contract with companies worth millions of naira the same day he made the statement.

Conclusion: 3 options.

1. Go through your script well, study the Nigerian audience well and what they like most, if you are truely convinced you have a good script(most importantly), then go ahead and shoot all, otherwise nobody will listen to you.

2. Take the 3 episodes to NBL as CrazyT adviced.

3. Or just sell the 3 episodes to ZEB for N5,000 which will fetch him millions. (most talented young artist have ended up in this option as a result of waiting for either NBL or whatever company to sponsor them first).

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@ seun

Hey you have the right idea because here in the U.S they produce one episode which is called a pilot and they have to show it to a test audience and even if the tv station is interested they still have to show it to their own test audience and the potential advertisers before they sign up for the 13 episodes which becomes a season.

that how its done here i dont know if its different in Nainja

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it is not right to throw all the 13 episodes into the market.

10 episodes is a good start because it will give the sponsors and idea of how the storyline and plot goes. 5 initial pilot so you wont have to waste funds unnecessarily

the pilot determines whether the sponsors will go along with it or whether some twists and more plots have to be added to give the sitcom the required audience

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@ Seun, I agree with you 100%, my arguement is based on the fact that I am filmmaker with more than 20years experience in TV production I think am qualified to tell you that no production is done without a TV pilot; this are test episodes (about 3 episodes of an intended TV series) This is used to discover whether an entertaining concept can be successfully realized. You should see it as prototypes of the production.

You don’t expect advertising companies to go through the whole 13 episodes; the most important thing they want to know is if you have the story to sustain the 1st 13 episodes.

So Seun you are right not to want to go for the whole 13 episode, because if your story lines are okay and the plot of the 1st three episodes really goes according to the script, it’s the advertising company that will be running after you guys.

Zeb Ejiro did the same with most of his soaps; I remember when Nigeria breweries gave him about 28million Naira after seeing only 2 episodes of his soap series.  Despite the fact that his name (Zeb Ejiro) carries weight, NB still need to see the pilots first before committing themselves to the production.

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If you are quiet satisfied with the script and you have the cash to produce the 13 episodes, i will advice you to go ahead.

Because no company in Nigeria will give you audience if you have only 3 episodes out of 48 episodes for a year. Nigerian companies like already-made stuff. Film producers in Nigeria hardly get any assistance untill they finish their job.

Besides, it will save you cost. THIS IS NIGERIA.

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except you want your sitcom to be like a flash in the pan, well am not am not in the business but if you are sure of it and you can convince sponsors that its going to be a hit and if it is you'll definately get sponsors,then i think you need to produce enough episode to find out if the audience will like it, so that it can continue airing even while you are producing more episodes,maybe more episodes than 3 will do the magic.

goodluck,and can't wait to see how thats going to be,in this naija.

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IMHO

it will pay if you listened to the director, its his profession and he knows the market.

To you and I the 3 to 4 episodes sounds good to test out the market and audience reaction,

but it seems from previous replies that the Nigerian market (mentality) demands all or nothing.

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