Friday, October 12, 2012

Lessons from a Sizzle Reel

Right now you can bet that someone just like you is sitting in a room pitching a reality show and is showing a sizzle reel.  If you don't have a sizzle you can just about forget about selling a show on the spot from a treatment.  What's most important to show in a sizzle?  I've done some great sizzles and nothing is going to ever be perfect for a network executive, but the elements in the sizzle should all be there to get them interested to garner a sale.

Your number one thing - you need a smoking hot sizzle to seal a deal!  You have to capture your message and your audience.  Here are some tips I have learned:

1. Make it no more than 3 to 5 minutes long.
2. Have a good Editor.
3. Have great characters.
4. Have good content.
5. Know your audience. 
6. Get to the Point.

Here's one of our character sizzles.  We took this out (mind you this wasn't the show sizzle) and we signed a deal from this...

If you have any tips to share from your POV, we would love to hear them!  Everyone always wants to know what you did for a sale - send your stories so we can share them with people who are out there pitching their shows and ideas!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reality Television And The Limitations Of Copyright 

Great article today in the Huffington Post written by David Ginsburg - here's a blurb in case you didn't see it...

Recent weeks have seen much entertainment industry and legal attention to an aggressive dispute between two networks over a pair of "reality" television shows. CBS has broadcast Big Brother in the United States since 2000, and it got wind of a prospective but as-yet uncompleted show entitled The Glass House it believed ABC was developing for a June 18, 2012 debut. In general, both shows involve a group of people living together in a house, sequestered from the outside world, continuously monitored by numerous television cameras, and on both shows contestants are eliminated over a respective season until there is a prize winner. To Read more click link:

My thoughts are that I totally agree, you can not copyright an idea in reality. There have been so many knock off's of knock off's that one idea gives light to another and so on. That is what has made reality REALITY! For every idea that we take out into the marketplace there have been 3-5 others that have pitched - that same idea - only yours might be slightly different. My connections and my timing might also might be different as well. 

I think that ideas are a dime a dozen and it seems to me that CBS approach should have been different. What if they were flattered that the idea was a spin off and similar from theirs? What if they went on with the attitude that "we have created so many hits in the past, present and our future is going to be even better!" Let Glass House try and have a run. I think that anything that gets on the air these days is lucky. Its hard to sell and get things green lit! Lets change that focus and work on future stuff that has the potential to be the next "Survivor," or "Glass House," vs. taking people to court. Let's make this genre even better than it is.

What are your thoughts about David's article in the Huffington Post today?  I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Follow Up to Poker Faced Pitches

I wanted to write a post to follow up after our "Poker Faced" pitch meeting that we had at "said big corporation" with "said Jr. Development Exec."  Hence the mouse with the trumpet - we overcame our obstacles with our show from the lessons we learned at that pitch...

So, I came back to the office frustrated and confused.  Their big top executive wanted us to pitch the concept after they heard it.  We were pitching the people below them.  (I still don't completely understand this process of pitching someone under the main big person who likes the concept -  but wants the people under them to say no after hearing your pitch, because they've never got anything green lit the entire time they are at "said corporation."  It totally baffles me.

We brainstormed and completely took every single note they gave us and reworked and reformatted the show.  I mean complete overhaul.  Since we didn't have money for a sizzle on this particular project I knew we needed some kind of a visual to show anyone we pitched so they could have a peek into SEEING what we were thinking.  So, I found a clip on the Today Show of Matt interviewing one of the people I could see on our show and we made a CD of the interview.  We incorporated that into our pitch.

We had two other pitches lined up with production companies and on our first pitch (before 11 am - which is apparently the best time to pitch during the day) we knocked it out of the park.  It happened to be thundering during our pitch, a dog was running around barking and it was loud and noisy, but we pitched and they liked.  I really felt that our visual clip was what sold it.  So, right now we are working on our deal, the talent's deal and moving forward.

I guess the point I am getting to is that all pitch meetings give you clues on how to make it better and how to refine what you have.  It may have been one of the weirdest pitch meetings of my career but it made our show better and WE are in the process of signing a deal to produce this with a production company that we like!  And to top it off, I had to go into "said corporation" again for a meeting with someone else - and I saw one of the people who we pitched and I wanted so badly to tell them "remember our show we pitched you in that awful meeting where you stared me down the whole time - we got a production deal, ha ha!"  I have heard that they still have not gotten anything green lit since!  Oh well...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poker Faced Pitches

Have you ever been in a pitch meeting that right from the beginning felt like you were in a meat locker? You could see your breath because it was so COLD? I am not talking about the room being cold at all, if you catch my drift. Yup. That was a pitch meeting we had this week. It was like a meat locker inside. And really, it wasn't our team. We actually came in because a big executive wanted our concept to be heard by some of the folks underneath them. We pitched this big corporate place before and experienced the same cold bone chilling feeling.

Picture this, your executive walks in. He or she shakes your hand with the "cold fish" handshake, smiles slightly and sits down. Every word that comes out of your mouth they are examining. The whole pitch they are poker faced, no inflection, no smile, no real interest and are set on hating what you have? When they finally do make a comment - your left going hu? No personality, no presence, nothing to add value to even try and act like you like us or the idea of the project or yourself for that matter!

I have been in many pitch meetings where if they like a small bit of what you have - you talk about ways that it could be better. We brainstorm together and make the outline of what we came in with be something even better. That happened to us when we went to pitch USA recently and the exec loved the conceptual idea and we sat there for two hours talking about how we could make it better, bigger and fit into what they had. It was one of the best meetings that I have had in a long time, outside of a few great ones at FremantleMedia.

I really didn't want to pitch this place again esp after our first meeting with the uninterested Jr. executive. But my TV intern reminded me that this meeting doesn't mean that it will end up the same way...I had my doubts and boy was I right--again. When you pitch someone that has a job just to have a job and hasn't ever gotten anything green lit EVER - and has only had one production makes you wonder what the heck you are doing there.

Granted, I appreciate any time given to me to hear my ideas. But what I don't appreciate is the hardness and the lack of personality when meeting with someone. At the end of the pitch they didn't even walk us out! They disappeared so fast that they were not even in the hall when we left! I am actually still scratching my head 5 hours later going, what happened there? What do they like anyway? ESP since their big exec wanted them to hear the pitch...

The bottom line, you should pitch people you like but sometimes when a bigger contact initiates that they want their team to hear the pitch, you go do it. You smile, you say thank you, you shake hands and then you walk away talking about them outside of their building...