SOMEONE DIES IN THIS ELEVATOR PITCH
It’s always helpful to have an idea of what’s expected from a worksheet or template, so we thought we’d share with you the pitch Tal Minear wrote for Someone Dies In This Elevator.
State your idea in a way that will get our attention and the attention of a single listener. Make sure we understand why it’s valuable and unique and something people should invest in. Make sure it aligns with our mission. We want to hear your voice and approach in your statement.
Title: Someone Dies in this Elevator.
An anthology podcast where the only thing that ties each story together is that (1) it takes place in an elevator and (2) someone dies (in the elevator, of course). That someone is not strictly a human person. Each episode will have a unique writer – though, in some cases, it may be acceptable for a writer to write multiple episodes as long as they are separate stories (especially across seasons). Each episode will be approximately 11 minutes long.
The elevators will vary from episode to episode, in both time and place. Maybe it’s a space elevator. Maybe it’s a corporate elevator from the 1920s. Maybe it’s an elevator to an underwater steampunk world in an alternate 1700s. Maybe it’s the elevator to an apartment complex in 2020. It doesn’t have to be ordinary or fantastical. It just has to be an elevator. And someone’s gotta die. Who’s in the elevator? Who dies? What’s the story? This will vary from episode to episode. The stories will not connect, as it’s an anthology.
I picture each episode with a full cast and sound design, not narrated by one person. This podcast will be an exercise in how far you can go with a single prompt, and the various ways it can be interpreted.
AUDIENCE & IMPACT
Every project has a primary audience as its target, even as we seek to attract large and broad audiences. Tell us who your target audience is and how this idea serves them. In addition to identifying your target audience, tell us what impact this series will have on them. How will they have changed, what will they feel, or what might they be moved to do as a result of what you produce?
The target audience for this podcast is people who want to hear creative takes on the same premise (someone dying in an elevator). The audience is not interested in an overarching plot or storyline, just a story that grabs them with a hook and takes them on a journey.
SOUND & STYLE
What will a listener hear when they press play? Tell us about the tone, the mood, the sound of your show. Feel free to compare your approach to other media as a way to describe it. Do you have a format in mind (on a scale from interview format on one end to full documentary on the other)? Do you have a way to innovate the sound and style to stand out?
When they press play, the listener will first hear the ambiance of the elevator. This will vary across episodes (I imagine a space elevator will sound differently than my apartment’s elevator). The mood will also vary across episodes. Despite the title, I don’t picture every single episode being a work of horror or sadness. Maybe it’s a happy episode and at the end, a fly dies in the elevator. The stories of this anthology podcast are not linked through tone – they’re linked by the premise. The more different the episodes are, the more interesting the podcast will be. The innovation of sound will shine in episodes that push the premise of the show – going into space or underwater or something new entirely. The only limit is what can happen in an elevator. And trust me, a LOT can happen in an elevator.
BEYOND THE PODCAST
The best podcasts exist as strong ideas expressed across multiple media and activities. Does your idea have any expression beyond the podcast itself and, if so, please describe them. Describe the ways you might build on the idea you stated earlier to connect with the real world.
Each episode being written by a different author will naturally connect with the real world, allowing different people to bring new perspectives and experiences to the show. I’m also very intrigued by the prospect of drawing the new elevator each episode takes the audience to. As far as social media goes, I picture an Instagram composed of endless elevator pictures from across the globe. Perhaps on Twitter, an invitation of people to rate their local elevator.
THE PRACTICAL REALITIES
Make shows that are financially sustainable. That means they need to be made efficiently, and they need to attract large audiences. So please address these questions: How many seasons will your show be and how many episodes in those seasons? What kind of budget will it take to produce your idea? If you don’t know, please be explicit about that. What support would you need to make a successful/hit program? What partners might you bring to the process for audience, funding, or other support?
Seasons: No set limit, as an anthology series with disconnected episodes does not need a series arc. I have a certain satisfaction in having 11 episodes in each season (to follow the symmetry of 11-minute episodes).
Budget: I’d like to pay writers a small stiped for their story, actors a small stipend for lines, and the sound designer/dialogue editor a small stiped for their work (though I’d be happy to do the sound design myself for free). I’m not sure what “small stipend” is feasible.
Support: I would need support finding writers, as well as support marketing and fundraising the show. In an ideal world, I’d love the help of a dialogue editor to cut lines together.
Every Pitch needs details about yourself. Why could you succeed in producing your idea? What kind of creative home are you looking for? Why are you the only one who can make this show?
I could succeed in producing this idea because I’ve produced podcasts before (Sidequesting and Light Hearts). I am looking for a creative home that allows for this weird idea and collection of stories to be told. I might not be the only one who can make this show, but I have an absurd love of elevators and the push to get this unique brand of stories out in the world.
For practical purposes, the best release schedule is weekly or semi-weekly. Establish your season release window. Plan to only make this one season, before moving on. Make it great. Please give an episode outline and detailed descriptions. For a show with an overarching plot, please attempt to hit the eight sequences as best as you can, but that’s a guideline.
I’d like to write and produce the first season (+ a trailer) before releasing episodes, and then release the season weekly or biweekly. I’d want to aim for a late 2020 release (of course October is the “ideal” month because it seems like a scary podcast, but I don’t want to limit myself to that.) Because the nature of the first season is 11 different writers, I can’t predict the plot of each episode. I’ve made a loose outline of the first season below, to establish what I’m going for.
Episode 1: Not a horror episode. Establish that this podcast is not always scary. (Maybe this episode is a little sad).
Episode 2: This one can have horror, but it has to be unexpected. If the first one takes place in a “standard” location, this one does not.
Episode 3: This one is allowed to be scary, in exactly the way you expect.
Episode 4: A balm for the scary episodes. This one is happy. (I have an idea for this one, actually).
Episode 5: This one isn’t horror. It’s sad if the first one isn’t. It’s an unexpected genre otherwise, if that hasn’t happened. Zombie? Steampunk? Space? Some place new.
Episode 6: This one is in an unexpected time, like the 1920s where you have an elevator operator inside the elevator the whole time.
Episode 7: This one is completely absurd. Maybe the elevator itself dies.
Episode 8: Maybe we can have a little horror again. A balm to the unexpected. This one must take place in a new location. Do submarines have elevators? Where does the basement button on the elevator go, really?
Episode 9: Change up the mood. If most of the ones have been sad, make this one happy. If there hasn’t been a lot of suspense, maybe this is a suspenseful episode. Mood whiplash.
Episode 10: Wildcard episode. Whatever I can’t predict and gets submitted goes here.
Episode 11: This is the season finale so I figure whichever of the writer submissions is the “best” goes here. (by “best” I mean most satisfying season ending)
- A heist wherein the culprits use the elevator/elevator shaft as an escape. (Perhaps the security guard is the one who dies?)
- A submarine’s elevator. Is there something foreboding out in the water?
- The famed Elevator to the Moon.
- 1920s gangsters in the prohibition era taking the elevator
- It’s the zombie apocalypse. The elevator is somehow, still functional. For now.
- Fantasy Elevator. Like in TAZ. Roll with it.
- A big fancy hotel. The elevator has so many buttons on it.
- Werewolves. Vampires. Elevator. This goes somewhere. Probably not up.
- They say not to press the B button in the elevator. It goes to the basement. You don’t want to go to the basement.
- Why are there goats in this elevator?
- The elevator shaft is like a snake!
- Elevator is a museum. ART.
- 11ish minute script
- About 11 pages
- Takes place in an elevator
- The POV will stay within the elevator, though obviously characters might be entering and exiting.
- Someone dies in the elevator
- Does not have to be a human person
- Must be a living “someone” so that it can die
- Must be a literal death