Sunday, December 15, 2013
How to Make a Successful Pitch
In my years working in television I heard thousands of pitches, and as head of development for production companies I made a few, too. I'm often asked, "what are executives looking for when you pitch them? In my experience they are looking for two things: 1. They want to be thrilled 2. They want to believe you can do it. Let's talk about that in detail. 1. Film studio and network executives hear hundreds if not thousands of pitches a year. They hear them in their offices, of course, but also everywhere they go. I once got pitched by a caddy at the Bel Air golf course who was also a screenwriter. Most of the time, they say 'no.' But the reason they got in the business, the reason they have their current job, is because they want to be part of creating something wonderful. Nothing excites an executive more than a great story - something that they can be a part of and that might make their reputation. They want to be thrilled by a pitch -- but they rarely are. 2. However, even a great story is not enough. As I've written in previous posts, an idea is only as good as its execution. For example, it's one thing to go into a network and pitch the idea of starring Bill Cosby in a sitcom where he plays a doctor. It's a very different meeting if, like Carsey-Werner productions, you walk in with Bill Cosby himself. (see my earlier post, turn your idea into a property). Even with Bill Cosby, the two networks at the time with the biggest audience turned down the pitch for The Cosby Show, which made NBC, the network that said yes, the #1 network during the 1980s. That's why it's important to create a track record in the entertainment business before you pitch. Unless they feel comfortable with the second point, it doesn't matter how great your idea is. If you're already a producer or can show a video of your work, that will help prove it. If you haven't produced anything, try to partner with a production company that has produced shows. Pitching and picking shows remain an art, not a science. If it were a science, no show or movie would fail. However, If you keep these two points in mind -- 1. Thrill them; 2. Prove you can do it -- you'll have a much better chance.