Found myself pitching a couple of shows not long ago. I thought it was a meet and greet. Nah-ah.
One pitch was just one that had been bouncing around my head for the past while – let’s call it the I’m Cool About This Pitch. The other is one I’m quite sweet on – the I’m Hot About This Pitch.
The Cool Pitch: A depressed and suicidal multihyphenate is given five million dollars with which to make her debut feature.
The Hot Pitch: A year in the life of genetically engineered soldiers.
Guess which one they liked more? Guess which one I promised to write up within eighteen hours? Sigh*.
I should learn to be more aware of my audience: given the choice between a period of time with super-soldiers/planarian-worms/domesticated-chickens, and a personal, identifiable journey from darkness into light, they went for the unwritten and undeveloped pitch.
* Mental note for the next Hot Pitch: Private First Class Ray Gunn awakens one morning to discover he is the ultimate soldier. Nothing can stop, hurt or kill him. His imagination is the limit. One day, he stops taking orders….
After a week of jitters, it is done.
In the end, I pitched to six out of eleven producers and commissioners. Of the five that I didn’t sit down with, two were no-shows to begin with, two left before I started working my way around them (there were two rounds, as it were, and I was in the second round), and one left thinking she’d finished (or survived – understandable considering she’d just sat through twenty-plus two-minute* pitches without a break).
For me, the best thing was experiencing firsthand most of what I’d read or heard. It’s one thing to know in a theoretical sense, Don’t take it personally if they’re sitting there poker-faced, but it’s another to sit opposite someone and fight the urge to babble about your project just because they’re not leaping out of their seat, kissing you on both cheeks, and declaring the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
The most useful sit-downs were where a conversation took place. Once the logline, plot description and themes were out of the way – what else did they want to know? The remaining ninety seconds were filled up by a Q & A where I showed off the depth of my knowledge**. Whether they could do anything with the project or not was almost beside the point. It was pretty cool to talk about a project as if it had real possibilities, rather than as just An idea I’ve got for a show….
Did I like it? Yes – I rather enjoyed it actually. Even if you get an ignorant and short-sighted producer, it’s good to realise in the rush of blood to the head, I disagree with your noises of disrespect – my mistake for pitching a drama to a reality-programme maker.
Would I do it again? Yes. I have survived the gauntlet that is DateNight. Bring it on.
* Short two producers, Mr Gannaway tried to ease the load by cutting the pitching time down from three to two minutes.
** Except for when I was asked what target audience I had in mind. No matter how often you’re told and read that you need only write for yourself and don’t worry about the market – that’s what the producer worries about, you will be asked what target audience you have in mind for your project.