Red Flags. In this business you have to learn quickly just when to say when. A red flag may pop up at any time and you don't even realize that it is and its TOO LATE! What is a red flag?
I am glad you asked. A red flag is a warning. A red flag alerts one that danger is ahead, looming, very close and for the body and mind to take notice and fast. One should take note when more than one flag waves. Red flags have been used since the 15th century when the "red flag" was used as a "flag of defiance."It was raised in cities and castles under siege to indicate that they would not surrender. The color red became associated with patriotism early in the French Revolution. Did you know that the United States has some state laws that forbid flying a red flag (OK, MN, SD), where it is a felony with a possible 10 year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine to fly one.
A red flag in motor sports is used to stop either a practice session or a race due to conditions been considered too dangerous. A red flag waiving while someone is boating and taking part in water sports signifies "man down in the water." There are also red flags that a therapist will talk about when "sensing danger within relationships."
You are probably wondering what the hell it is I am getting at about "Red Flags and Pitching TV Shows." I am so glad that you asked. A red flag in the pitching process always raises "questions" and is a good indication that things are not right or there will be some sort of problem that WILL come up - if you don't do something about it and fast! You really have to have a trained ear to listen to what people are saying and doing, these are clues and are a good indication of RED FLAGS, waving all over the friggin place!
Here are two big things to consider up front to spotting red flags in the starting stages of the pitching process.
1. Talent. If you have trouble right off the bat with talent who won't sign a basic pitching agreement or can't commit to meetings or doing the work that it takes to be part of a team...then you better think twice about going out to pitch a show with them attached. Lots of changes to a basic agreement up front can signal huge troubles, later down the road. I say really consider the talent as a whole and assess whether or not making a show with them will be effortless and easy. If you get a red flag up front, follow your instincts and cut the cord.
2. Body Language. This is good to observe during a pitch. You can tell a lot about the mood of the executive and the room just by observing the way they are sitting in the chair, expressions on their faces, are they tense, bored, happy...take notes and adjust your pitch accordingly - you only have a small window of time to blow them away, so if you see "funny body language" its a red flag.
3. No's. If two or more companies give you a NO, its a red flag. Find out why. Was it because it was a bad idea? Good idea but they didn't like the talent? Loved the pitch but have something similar in development? Its in your best interest to find out more details than the NO. Then you can decide whether or not to continue pitching or not. If you do continue and decide that its just your pitch you need to refine then OK. BUT its a good idea to get all the red flags out of the way before you hit any of the big players. If you are not sure about the pitch, pitch some of the smaller companies and use their feedback to get all of your red flags out of the way!
I have learned that projects that are effortless, are usually the projects that GO...