So, you want to get your film or TV show on Netflix? Unfortunately, there’s no easy A-B-C blueprint to follow here, and the truth of the matter is it’s a tough task. However, don’t let this dissuade you from trying. It’s not impossible. At the end of the day, Netflix is one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world, and they’re always on the lookout for new content!
While the roadmap for each individual project making it onto Netflix is always going to be slightly different, there are certainly a few pointers and tips that you can follow to give yourself a far better chance of success. If you have a project in mind and a goal set, read on to find out how you can get that famous “tu-dum” playing at the start of your production.
Have a clear, concise vision in your pitch
First things first (and this goes for any production, not just the one you want to end up on Netflix) – you need to have a very clear vision. In the pitch for your film, you should be able to succinctly summarize what the film is about, who it’s made for, and where it should exist in a content library. Furthermore, why make this film right now? And why you? If these basic things aren’t nailed, you’re going to find pitching it to Netflix an even tougher job.
Additionally, as an extra little tip, you may even want to include a roadmap that builds your world and opens up the possibility of extending it in the future, assuming that makes sense for the project. Streaming companies like Netflix love to capitalize on the success of a first installment with follow-ups. It’ll be interesting to know how your world can be built and what the potential longevity is. Of course, if you’re pitching a limited series or a one-off documentary, this won’t be as relevant.
Is this your best work?
This pretty much goes without saying, but to even have the tiniest of chances of making it onto a streaming site as large as Netflix, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and your team. Is this the very best work you can produce? Nowadays, there’s so much great work, and the competition is tough—if this is anything less than the very best, you can forget about it. Even if it is, that may still not be enough.
Secondly, you need to ask if this stands out from the crowd. What makes your show or film so unique, and why should Netflix commission it? If you can’t answer these questions convincingly, you’ll need to circle back to the drawing board.
Find an aggregator
This is perhaps the most important tip we can give you when it comes to getting your film on Netflix. As you can imagine, there are many independent producers and filmmakers out there who would all love to have their film or show streaming on Netflix. If Netflix was to take pitches from everyone separately and independently, it would take so much time and effort that it simply wouldn’t be worth it.
Instead, Netflix only works with trusted third-party aggregators. On their website, you’ll find the following guidance when it comes to pitching ideas:
“If you have an idea, game, script, screenplay, or production already in development that you’d like to pitch to Netflix, you must work through a licensed agent, producer, attorney, manager, or industry executive, as appropriate, who already has a relationship with Netflix. We are unable to share references for these resources.
If you do not have any of these resources available, Netflix will be unable to accept your unsolicited submissions.”
In other words, an aggregator is absolutely essential. They meet with Netflix regularly to pitch ideas, and they know what the streaming platform is looking for. These aggregators are always on the lookout for the next big thing, so they will be the ones to hear your pitch and review your film. If they like it, they’ll pitch it to Netflix on your behalf and help you package it properly, taking care of all the details before final delivery to Netflix.
And how much does this cost? Well, it depends. Different aggregators use different pricing models, so there isn’t a universal, consistent figure for you to work with here. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect that most aggregators will charge at least $1,000 to get your film on Netflix, and there may well be further pitch fees, annual charges, or percentage cuts of any profit generated. Here’s an idea of what two aggregators cost:
- Quiver Digital charges $1500 + $150 pitch fee + $75 annual charges (payable after 2 years)
- Distribber charges $995 +$150 annual charges (payable after 1 year)
For help in finding an aggregator, you can explore a full list of “NPFP” partners here. These are elite companies that have met strict requirements to become a “Netflix Preferred Fulfillment Partner.”
Find an agent
Finding an aggregator isn’t the answer to everything, unfortunately. If you’re serious about getting your film on Netflix, hiring an agent can open a lot of doors for you. While aggregators are there to get your film onto Netflix with packaging and final delivery, you may be wondering how you get to meet an aggregator in the first place.
An agent who’s earned their access and credibility in the business can pull strings and arrange such meetings with potential buyers. They will offer their expertise on how to improve your pitch and help it stand out from the crowd, assist with marketing, and guide the development process to a successful conclusion. They also have their ear to the ground and meet with Netflix buyers regularly, so they know what the network is looking for.
Attach a big name
Love it or hate it, in this business, sometimes it really is all about “who you know.” One of the ways to give your film or show a fighting chance is to attach a “big name” to the project. If you can find a producer, an executive, or an actor who already has a great relationship and track record of working with Netflix, it’s undoubtedly going to help you out.
If this “big name” backs your project and comes on board, it signals to Netflix that you’re worth a shot. This person has the ability to pull in an audience and produce great work, and they’re willing to vouch for you and believe in your project!
Do your homework
With all of the above in mind, you need to do your homework. Catching the eye of a big name in the industry or finding the right aggregator and agent is not simple. If you want the best chance of finding the right fit and getting people on board with your film or TV show, you need to research who it is you should be targeting.
If you have a new German comedy aimed at Gen-Z, it might not make sense to be talking to an aggregator who specializes in groundbreaking historic documentaries. And vice versa. Instead of wasting your time aimlessly, invest in the time it takes to dig deep and find the people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.
Network, network, network
How might you bump into these kinds of people? It isn’t going to happen sitting in front of your PC screen, sending out cold emails. You need to network in person and network hard. The good news is there are plenty of opportunities to do so.
Thankfully emerging from the other side of the pandemic, in-person events are back on. From pitching and film festivals to industry talks, networking events and casual social gatherings, there are many ways to rub shoulders and get your face seen and known throughout the year. In the case of pitching festivals, not only will you have the benefit of networking and potentially meeting the right person, but you’ll learn a lot about the industry and what it takes to build a great pitch. Both pitching and film festivals also present the possibility of meeting directly with Netflix personnel – they’ll be in attendance.
Social media helps
When it comes to networking and getting your face known (for the right reasons, of course), social media can certainly help out. You should keep an active presence online by sharing your latest work, getting involved with discussions in the industry and connecting with people in the business. If you happen to have a substantial following or are able to build one (we’re talking tens of thousands of followers/subscribers at minimum), then that can certainly pique the interest of Netflix. They like to know that you can bring an audience with you.
Working the social media angle can also help if you’re able to generate substantial social chatter and interest in your project. There’s a good case in hand happening right now, with Russell Cook (aka “Hardest Geezer”) currently attempting to be the first person to run the entire length of Africa. He’s been courting Netflix and generating a lot of chatter on Twitter and YouTube, so watch this space…
Getting your film or TV show streaming on Netflix isn’t easy. It’s a long, arduous process, and there will be many setbacks. In fact, our final piece of advice here would be to get comfortable with rejection. The word “no” doesn’t necessarily mean no forever; it just means not today.
Pretty much everyone in the industry starts off with a “no.” How you deal with this rejection is key. Try to build on it by taking feedback on board and understanding that you have to knock on thousands of doors before even one opens. Rejection and failure are part of the game. With perseverance, patience and the application of the advice you’ve read above, you can maneuver yourself and your project to be in the best possible position to get that famous “tu-dum” playing at the start of your show.
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