As owners of our production company, Joke Productions, Inc., we’ve been on both sides of a Hollywood pitch meeting.
- The selling side, when we’re out convincing networks to buy our shows, and…
- The receiving side, when taking unscripted TV pitches from agents, producers, talent, and some of you.
In more than a few emails and tweets many of you have asked us for pitching advice. We thought about writing a post series detailing the finer points of the Hollywood pitch meeting.
However, Stephanie Palmer has already beat us to the punch (more like knocked us out) with her terrific blog Good In A Room.
If you want to sell your ideas to Hollywood, you owe it to yourself to visit Stephanie’s blog, check out her book, and sign up for her newsletter.
We’ve been selling shows for almost a decade, and we find Good In A Room informative…that should tell you something.
Before You Pitch To Us
If you’ve been around this blog, you know we’re open to hearing your unscripted TV pitches. But honestly, we wish everyone who did pitch to us would read these posts by Stephanie Palmer first:
How To Cure Pitch Meeting Anxiety
We get it–many of you are trying to break in to Hollywood, and there can be a lot of emotion tied to that. It’s easy to get nervous in a big pitch meeting.
But if your nerves get the best of you, you’ll scare us into thinking you’ll crumble under pressure, and that working with you could be a nightmare. Stephanie has some good tips to get you out of your head and into a better place for pitch success.
How To Answer The Question: “How Did You Come Up With This Idea?”
Bringing us an unscripted TV idea?
We want to know your connection to the world of the show. If you’re smart enough to take Stephanie’s advice from this post and apply it to your pitch meeting with us, you’re the kind of person we want to work with.
The Most Common Pitch Meeting Mistakes (That You Don’t Know You’re Making)
Stephanie’s advice here is SO on the head it hurts to read it. Why? Not only do people make these mistakes all the time when pitching to us, but, when we were first starting out…we made them, too.
Please read, digest, and follow this advice. Every word is dead on.
20 Things You Should Never Do In A Pitch Meeting
We present this as an exclamation point to the post mentioned above. If you find yourself pitching to us, violating numbers 3, 8, 14, 17, and 20 will raise big fat red flags and we won’t want to work with you.
Scripted versus Unscripted: There Are Differences
Stephanie’s advice is mostly tailored to the scripted world. While much of it still works for those pitching unscripted TV shows to us, there are some differences we’d like to highlight.
Here are three posts from Good In A Room on which we offer a slightly different opinion should you find yourself telling us about a show you want us to consider.
The Most Popular Pitching Formula in Hollywood (And 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use It)
Here, Stephanie discusses the old “It’s Good Will Hunting meets House Party” pitch strategy so often made fun of in parodies of the Hollywood system. (But that ridiculous example is all mine.)
While we agree with Stephanie’s reasons not to use this pitching approach in most situations, we don’t mind hearing it if you’re pitching to us.
If you’ve discovered a terrific family, business, or world you have access to, and can lay it out for us as “It’s Duck Dynasty meets X” or “It’s Survivor meets Y” it will help us start a bigger conversation about what the show could be.
In fact, we just sold a dozen episodes of a new TV show to a major cable network using the “It’s X meets Y” formula. (We’ll tell you which one when we’re allowed to talk about it…it’s airing later this year.)
That’s not to say others in Hollywood won’t be turned off by this practice (we’re sure some will), or that it can’t make you look stupid (please don’t actually pitch us “It’s Good Will Hunting meets House Party.”) but we won’t hold it against you if you use this approach to pitch us.
The Best Way To Use Visual Aids In Your Pitch… Don’t!
While we one-hundred percent agree with Stephanie’s assertion that you could hurt yourself using visual aids in a scripted pitch, they are an absolute must when pitching us your unscripted TV idea.
Ideally we want to see a beautiful video pitch that highlights the world and talent you are trying to sell. At a bare minimum photos of your cast, their world, and some flip-cam footage with decent audio is necessary to get us excited about the show you’re pitching.
How To Pitch And Sell Your Reality TV Idea
This is a really good post chock full of useful nuggets, but it takes things from a “writer-centric” point of view — it’s more for “idea people” than filmmakers or artists who want to play a bigger role in the show they are pitching.
The fact of the matter is that unscripted TV budgets get tighter every day, and it’s very difficult to pay someone to just “walk away” from a project.
That’s why we love teaming up with filmmakers and hands-on-producers who not only have unscripted TV ideas, but also have the skills and desire to work on the shows they sell.
The young producers who pitched us what eventually became MTV’s CAGED (read their story here) made far more money working on the show than they ever would have made by simply taking a small producer’s fee to do nothing beyond introducing us to the concept.
There are a lot of people out there pitching “reality TV ideas.” Far less of them are putting together great tape, finding interesting casts, and uncovering new worlds that should be on TV. Bringing us more than just an idea will make you–and your pitch–a lot more valuable to us.
Get Good In A Room
We can’t say enough good things about Stephanie Palmer and her blog Good In A Room. It’s one of those websites we wish existed when we were first getting in the business.
Check out what Stephanie has to say, then come back and pitch us some shows!