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Sizzle Reels: Produce Before You Pitch (Part 1)
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Part 1: Why Make a Sizzle Reel?  (Oh and er, um…  "what’s a sizzle reel?”)

By Dan Abrams

In 2010, most producers must bring video to an exec to pitch their show, especially reality/non-fiction TV. Titans like Mark Burnett & Jerry Bruckheimer might be able to sell shows on just an idea.  However for us mere mortals we need more than that because there is more that needs to be conveyed.


Producing a great sizzle reel is a solid way to demonstrate the three things we want to convey:

First, you’ve got a good idea,

Second, your particular vision of that idea is worthwhile, and

Third, they need you to execute/produce that vision for the series.


Here’s why: since there are so many ways to mess up a project, buying a pitch alone presumes the buyers truly imagines the same show in their head as the producers has in his/hers. By seeing a sizzle reel the buyers can better (literally) see the idea in action. They can get a better sense of the look & feel of the show. And finally, they can gauge the producer’s professionalism.


The pitch has six likely outcomes:

The good news is that now, because of lower equipment costs and their resulting ubiquity, it’s getting much easier to produce "sizzle reels" and increase your chance of success.


Each of the next three installments will provide advice on:

- how to turn your great idea into an effective sizzle reel (by advising on how to ensure it will be something the buyer will want to buy).

- how to actually produce your sizzle reel (by guiding you on the facets to consider).

- how to use your sizzle reel once it’s done)


Good luck!

Go to Part 2

Dan Abrams is the Supervising Producer of "The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie” airing on HGTV