You’ve probably heard about the hugely popular Meet the Adebanjos, the UK’s Number 1 Sitcom centred around a modern British-African family living in London, but what you probably haven’t heard about is the blood, sweat and tears that the show’s creators went through to get the series on the screen.
In 2010 Debra Odutuyo sold her car and moved back in with her parents and Andrew Osayemi left his Investment Banking career, joining forces they launched their TV production company, which produced Meet The Adebanjos. Within seven years of launching the company, they have successfully sold their TV show all over the world, with loyal TV viewers in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and in UK, and generating enough revenue to make three seasons and 50 episodes without a major mainstream broadcaster in sight.
Determined that those coming up behind them, don’t have to reinvent the wheel, they have devised a five-step plan on how to succeed in the creative industry without mainstream support for creatives who have been struggling to achieve results in the industry. They quite rightly believe that creatives can and should follow their dreams and make a success of their work without traditional mainstream validation.
Here are their five steps on how to succeed in the TV business without mainstream support:
1. Understand your audience:
Make very good niche content where you can easily find a community online to help you promote it: We made our show Meet the Adebanjos about Africans living aboard because we knew there was a large audience of people living in the diaspora who could connect with it. You could do the same by doing a show for gamers, single dads, women trying to lose weight etc.
2. Find funding:
Beg, borrow (but don’t steal!) money from friends and family to raise cash to make a pilot episode/pilot season. Undertake a crowdfunding campaign to source funds. Take your time developing the show concept so that the script is amazing and then make the show for as cheap as possible without compromising on quality. Debra sold her car and moved back in with her parents and Andrew quit his city trading job and convinced many of his friends to invest in the 1st season so they could make it independently. They worked with script editors and writers who had worked on the popular British sitcom Desmond’s to help get the scripts right before producing them.
3. Invest in marketing:
Focus on promoting and marketing the 1st episode/season rather than making money from it. You want as many people to see it as possible. Have a budget for marketing and promoting. Andrew and Debra printed posters all over the UK telling people to watch the 1st episodes online, they did deals with African TV stations to air the 1st season for free and emailed every journalist they knew to cover the story.
4. Get selling:
Work on your sales pitch. You can fund your future seasons by preselling your future shows to broadcasters/publications/advertisers focused on your niche audience. Andrew says once your show has been able to generate a lot of buzz you will start getting a lot of interest from niche broadcasters, online platforms, media platforms, advertisers who think their audience will love your content. This is where you need to be on top of your game selling your concepts for future seasons. Andrew did presale deals with multiple TV stations in Africa and UK which provided the funds to completely fund all future seasons since.
5. Learn from failure:
Even if all fails and you do not get a TV deal you will have generated so much buzz about your work and what you do that many opportunities will come your way so it will still be a win. You can’t lose. From the back of launching Meet the Adebanjos, Andrew and Debra have had opportunities beyond their wildest dreams. From consultancy gigs all over the world to being invited to speak at the UN, their message is simple. If you do great work and it makes a big buzz it will lead to things bigger and better than you think is possible even if your initial goal is not achieved.
The full digital boxset of Meet the Adebanjos is available for £9.99. Order it here.