Unscripted

Big Coat to crowdsource its next unscripted idea

Love It or List It indie Big Coat Productions is turning to the Canadian public in a bid to crowdsource ideas for its next big reality series. (Pictured L-R: CEO Maria Armstrong and president Catherine Fogarty)
November 27, 2014

Love It or List It indie Big Coat Productions is turning to the Canadian public in a bid to crowdsource ideas for its next big reality series. (Pictured L-R: CEO Maria Armstrong and president Catherine Fogarty)

The idea for one of Big Coat Productions’ most successful series, Love It or List It, came from a very personal place.

More than a decade ago, CEO and executive producer Maria Armstrong was trying to decide if she should renovate her current home or move out altogether – one of those conundrums that may be trifling in the bigger picture of life, but is often agonizing for a homeowner at the time.

That experience eventually evolved into a pitch idea for Love It or List It, now currently in its sixth season on W Network in Canada and its 10th season on HGTV in the U.S.

A series concept “resonates with the audience more when it comes from an experience that is personal,” Armstrong told realscreen‘s sister publication Playback Daily. “If I’m experiencing it, then someone you know is experiencing it.”

Looking to mimic the success of that origin story, Big Coat is now reaching out to the public for ideas and pitches for the next unscripted series it will develop.

Having launched on November 24, “What’s The Big Idea?!” asks Canadians from across the country to submit ideas for reality series or to pitch themselves or their friends as the stars or hosts of a new reality series.

The prodco is also launching an extensive marketing campaign to attract submissions, including print and digital ads and promotion via social media. The competition will also accept submissions from people who are already involved in television and media, as well as students studying television or media and communications.

If a pitch submitted through the campaign is greenlit to pilot by a network, the creator will receive a CAD$2,500 prize. If the concept goes to series, the creator would receive a $10,000 prize. If someone submits an idea for a host or subjects for a reality premises and it goes to series, the same prize money would apply.

If a series does go to pilot or series, Big Coat would retain all the rights. The creator’s involvement in potential series past the submission stage would depend on how involved they want to be in the project, as well as their own experience in the industry. The amount of ideas the prodco will pursue will depend on the quantity and quality of submissions, Forgarty said.

“We could get 500 submissions and one rises to the top, or we could get 500 and we love five,” said Big Coat Productions president Catherine Fogarty.

Armstrong said the budget for the campaign is about $50,000, which does not include the costs of the prize money. Still, she believes the investment will pay off in the long run as the prodco seeks to develop more shows and formats that can draw in audiences from around the world.

“We really feel strongly that it is a worthwhile investment, because we feel that we will find ideas that will generate and translate into new programming,” Armstrong said.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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