June 28, 2023

How We Built

a Netflix Sensation

Hi Zooliners,

If you think selling an original show to Netflix can’t be done, then we have great news for you. Tom, our CEO, not only has done exactly that but he’s also condensed some of the lessons he learned during the process in his latest Forbes column with the piece 5 Lessons: How Our Indie Production House Built A Netflix Sensation. We’re feeling generous, so here’s a sneak peek!

Lesson number one: Look for inspiration in your data. Is data analysis the most exciting part of our jobs? Bluntly, no. But, it’s an important part of any media or marketing effort and sometimes there are hints of magic laying amongst those datasets. In our case, we looked at the data of digitized versions of TV episodes, including old footage and interviews of my father’s work, that we had uploaded to YouTube. Tom’s father, Frank Elstner, was one of Germany’s most popular TV personalities for decades and remains an important figure in the media landscape today. It wasn’t exactly surprising that these episodes were being watched, but what did surprise us was the incredibly high completion rate of these videos, many of which were over an hour long. It gave life to a new idea, and that idea ultimately became one of our biggest yet.

Lesson number two: Have clear goals. We knew we wanted to pitch a final interview series for my father, but we didn’t stop there. We wanted Netflix to be its home and we refused to waver from that goal. We designed everything from the concept, the logline, and the pitch to appeal to Netflix. We did our research and our homework so that when we landed a meeting, we had a very tailored idea to suit their platform.

Lesson number three: Invest in yourself. We knew we had a good idea and while we knew where we wanted this show to ultimately live, we didn’t want to wait for its conception. So, we doubled down, bet on ourselves, and we produced and published the show on YouTube first. Now of course, this won’t always be feasible. You need to have the team and resources to do this, but if you can bootstrap your idea, do it. Whether that means producing a pilot, putting together the best trailer ever, or creating a short of what you intend to build out in the future as something feature length, this kind of commitment is motivating for your team and for whomever you are pitching to. Anyone can have good ideas, but those that can take projects from ideation to reality are setting themselves apart in a major way. We’re convinced that this was a major part of Netflix’s decision to pick up the show in the end. We proved our commitment, our talent, and we were able to show them there was an audience waiting for more.

To learn more about how we sold a show to Netflix and the inspiration behind the process, read the full article 5 Lessons: How Our Indie Production House Built A Netflix Sensation. Who knows, maybe it will set you on your own path to streaming glory. We’ll definitely be watching.

Greetings on top, Zoo Kid On The Blog

How We Built a Netflix Sensation

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