“Deep Dive” True Crime Series – you’ve seen them. The Jinx. Making a Murderer. Our own upcoming CNN/HLN series, Unmasking a Killer, is also a deep dive. How do these series work? How can you develop true crime series like these? And why do these types of series come with far more responsibility than others? Today we share five crucial tips you need to know. Plus…where we’ve been for the last two months.
True Crime Series – Just What Is a Deep Dive?
In terms of true crime series in unscripted television, a “deep dive” is an exploration of a single case over several…or many…episodes.
As mentioned above, The Jinx and Making a Murderer are recent, popular examples of this style of TV.
Also, our own upcoming CNN/HLN TV series Unmasking a Killer, is a true crime deep dive. (Proud to say this was just announced – and we’re thrilled to be working with CNN/HLN)
However, there are some specific things you need to consider before developing any true crime series (and we go into FAR greater depth in today’s podcast episode, so be sure to listen.)
True Crime Series: Not Just Entertainment. Not At All.
The big thing you must remember about producing true crime series is that the people sharing their stories have been through something unspeakably awful.
They are not reality TV contestants. They’re not big personalities who want their fifteen minutes of fame.
These are human beings, and if they choose to trust you with their story, they have a reason.
- Maybe they’re a survivor who wants to inspire other victims to pull through.
- They may be family members who want to memorialize a loved one, while sharing a message to others in their situation.
- Police who sit for an interview may do so in hopes that just one person, somewhere, will pick up a tip that could save their lives.
- Or perhaps your story (like our new series) covers an active investigation, and the airing it could help provide victims with justice.
If anyone sits for you, they’re not thinking about making entertainment. For them, a true crime series is about something much more. A true crime producer can never forget that.
Yes, It’s Still TV and Film
Of course your series still needs to be compelling. If people don’t watch, no message will be heard. No criminals will be apprehended. No good can be done. But more than any other genre of TV, we believe true crime comes with real responsibility.
We go into this and so much more in this podcast episode.
Just some of what we cover today:
- The responsibility of true crime and dealing with real stories from real people
- The gut check we’ve always used when making our shows
- Why make a true crime series in the first place?
- Your “why now” and what you need to share with TV networks
- What attachments are necessary to pitch a deep dive true crime series?
- What about cases that have a real time, active investigation angle?
- Your second hook for a true crime series – how does it work?
- And…where we’ve been for the last two months. Plus, the future of this podcast.
True crime may seem like an exciting genre to new producers, but it has its own rules. More importantly, it comes with a lot of responsibility.
If you’re passionate about producing true crime series — and in it for the right reasons — today’s podcast will help you immensely. The five tips we share will help you develop a great true crime series, and do so responsibly.
Transcript Coming Soon!
Helpful and Related Links
- You always need a second hook, even in true crime.
- Here’s a previous episode we did about reenactment shows
- On today’s episode, we mentioned our visit to the School of Motion podcast, where we discussed reality TV budgets, schedules, how “real” is reality TV, and so much more. Joey, the host, grilled us and we had a blast. Check it out here.
- Here’s a post we wrote over on the Joke and Biagio blog about the filmmaking craft behind making our last true crime series Three Days to Live.
- Follow us on Twitter: @JokeAndBiagio – we’re around often and try to respond to most tweets.
Let’s Make Some TV Together
Trying to break into unscripted television, reality TV, documentary series, or true crime? Want to pitch to our company? Here’s what to do next:
Read our in-depth page about how to pitch us a show. It also talks about what it’s really like to work in our business, the unscripted TV and film industry.