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What exactly is a format and how does it differ from an ‘idea’? This course will answer that question and give you the tools to turn your TV idea into a workable format. Plus, you’ll learn the importance of costing your series as well as having a watertight pitch. You’ll get creative stimulation and practical methodologies from the teaching team of highly experienced Producer Jon Donaldson and Senior Production Manager Genevieve Ginty, and leave with a template for your own series format “bible”.


In this course you’ll learn about:

• What constitutes a series format and why broadcasters and production companies love them
• The difference between an idea, a format and a brand.
• How formats are licensed and sold in Australia and internationally.
• Successful formats, and why they’ve worked.
• Why some formats do well internationally, but not locally.
• What constitutes a format “bible” and how to write one
• How to turn your idea into a series format
• Critically assessing the elements required to produce your format series.
• Making sure your format can be made for the ‘right’ amount, by learning about production methodology.

As part of the course you will receive a Series Bible Template (soft copy).

PLEASE NOTE: This course does not cover scripted formats (ie drama or comedy series)

The course runs for one full weekend (5th & 6th May) and then Saturday 12th May. There will be “homework” to do between these sessions. Students will then pitch their format series to the rest of their class on the following evening of Wednesday 16th May. The course comprises lectures, screenings, group work and class discussions. You will work on your own format idea and bible, (this can be a “real” or “practice” idea), and you may chose to work in groups or individually.

Ask any TV producer what their goal is and they’re likely to respond: “To create a TV format that travels the world and makes me rich!” And why not? Networks worldwide are hungry for series formats that will guarantee audiences and produce long running shows in their schedules. If you’re already working in TV production and want to get a better understanding of formats and series development, or if you aren’t in the industry but have a great idea for a show, then this course will be invaluable.

To get the most from this course you should allocate some time between the two weekend sessions, and before the final pitch, to refine your idea and work on your pitch.



Genevieve has worked as a Production manager with many of Australia’s celebrated producers of light entertainment, lifestyle, observational documentaries, factual programs and reality series. As a Production Manager, she managed shows such as Big Brother, Queer Eye for the Straight, Strictly Dancing and Friday Night Games among others. In 2005 Genevieve became the Production Supervisor at Southern Star Endemol, where she was across the development, management and delivery of Endemol’s slate of programs.

Since 2011 Genevieve has worked as a development & production consultant. This primarily involves assisting producers with program development, budgeting, scheduling, and production methodology as well as business and production management. Genevieve also regularly lectures at Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS).


Jon Donaldson has worked as a Producer for twenty years, beginning his career in the UK working for Granada T. He is also a BBC trained field and studio director. His specialities are producing studio shows (lots of studio experience with live TV) and format development (idea generation, format construction, budgeting and scheduling) and he has been a development executive with many of Australia’s largest Production companies.. He has produced in a wide range of genres: comedy, light ent, music, children's (he won a BAFTA for ME:TV in 2006), reality, lifestyle and he has developed shows across all genres.
Jon has created and run production teams of various sizes, from whole departments (Nickelodeon UK), to smaller more focused teams (Room 101 – a comedy series for SBS)

Jon has produced various ‘production models’ for a whole variety of shows. For example, a children’s series 'Move It’ where they he developed a model to make over 325 episodes (6 series) at a very low price point for Channel 9. This involved recording 5 shows a day, therefore amortising the costs effectively. He has also produced production models for larger multi-million dollar shows.

Jon is a very hands on producer generating ideas, writing scripts, structuring items for studio, storyboarding and shot listing for the field. He has experience of storylining in reality shows, after being the series producer on Dancing With The Stars and Make Me A Supermodel and also had lots of experience dealing with talent, from training brand-new hosts to those with a lifetime of experience.

Have any Questions? Please get in touch or 1300 065 281

***DISCLAIMER*** AFTRS reserves the right to cancel any course for any reason at any time. In the event of a course being cancelled a full refund of course fees will be provided. If an enrolee wishes to withdraw from a course, they may do so up to 15 days before the course commences and get a full refund. Cancellations within 14 days of course commencement will incur a fee. For more information on AFTRS Open's policies, including refund policies, please see our policies page


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.