To fully understand the scope of the TV and movie industries in their current forms, you should take a minute or two to explore TV provider guides, the Netflix dashboard, Hulu, Amazon, and HBO picks, for example. Consider the sheer number and impressive number of original shows and movies available to enjoy.
Remember that these shows and movies are the ones that made it. These works are the best of the best that screenwriters put in the hands of executives, in the form of a script or treatment. To further this point, a very small percentage of scripts are good enough to make it to the big or small screen. For every job that’s on TV, hundreds and hundreds, and maybe even thousands, have been denied and haven’t been made for TV or film.
The main reason scripts are denied? Lack of originality.
Frankly, when an agent or executive reviews a script, it has probably been established as “good” or even “excellent.” But if this script isn’t original, there’s a good chance it will be thrown at the end of the pack.
Even when it seems that unoriginal TV shows will be commissioned and filmed as pilots, their lack of originality often comes to light and they are shelved. As proof, just look at how many pilots are not commissioned in series. The same thing happens in the film industry, although on a smaller scale.
At the same time, you can write a familiar premise in an original way. When done right, it can increase the chances of selling your script because film production companies and agencies don’t like to take risks and prefer to produce something that has been tried and tested. It’s a fine line that requires experience and feedback.