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UnequalProductions
03-11-2016, 05:21 PM
My writing partner I seem to be running into the same situation over and over. People love our pilot scripts. We haven't written on yet that hasn't landed with a production company.

But then they always insist that we go in and pitch it with no other talent attached. "Studios have the actors they love." "Networks have deals with directors." "Better to just go in clean."

And nothing. We have credits to our name (mostly features and animation), but we have yet to have one of our shows make it to the air.

So why? Why are they pushing us to go into these rooms alone only to fail? Is there really examples of writers with no credits selling a series? All the people we practice these pitches with just say "You guys did great," but they have to have an idea what a selling/non-selling pitch sounds like, right?

surftatboy
03-11-2016, 06:28 PM
Hand raised. But I assume it was because they wanted to make a deal with the showrunners (I believe I was irrelevant), as they were hot coming off a hit show.

I am suprised that your producers have been cool with you pitching with no attachments. Surprised your reps want to risk it.

It is annoying, in my view, the way want to pretend the script doesn't exist. But I suppose there are times it makes sense as a strategy.

ProfessorChomp
03-12-2016, 08:52 AM
Nobodies can and do sell shows - and it sounds like you're not a nobody to begin with. Attachments can help, but they're also time-consuming to attain. Given the narrow window for pitching (at least for network), I can see why they just want to get in the room asap.

ANECDOTE: I pitched a show to networks with WeinsteinCo as the studio, with their (awesomely supportive) exec at every pitch. After two passes, she set up some meetings with TV directors. We landed a well-known one. Didn't help at all - execs sort of nodded when we'd mention his involvement and just wanted us to get to the story. There was no sense of "Ooh, an attachment" even though this guy has made some great TV. Ultimately networks/outlets have very clear mandates of what they want to buy (often there's a weekend retreat where they ascertain "this season we want 1) a legal thriller 2) a cop drama, 3) a family drama, so go find those...")

Attachments help sometimes, not other times. Ultimately it's all about the concept and execution and pitching to the right exec on the right day.

EdFury
03-12-2016, 09:48 AM
My writing partner I seem to be running into the same situation over and over. People love our pilot scripts. We haven't written on yet that hasn't landed with a production company.

But then they always insist that we go in and pitch it with no other talent attached. "Studios have the actors they love." "Networks have deals with directors." "Better to just go in clean."

And nothing. We have credits to our name (mostly features and animation), but we have yet to have one of our shows make it to the air.

So why? Why are they pushing us to go into these rooms alone only to fail? Is there really examples of writers with no credits selling a series? All the people we practice these pitches with just say "You guys did great," but they have to have an idea what a selling/non-selling pitch sounds like, right?

No. They have no idea what a selling or not selling pitch sounds like. It always boils down to what works for producers or network people at that exact moment. If you're in there on the right day at the right time with the right idea for them at that exact moment... you're gold. And you have zero control over that. All you can do is be good in the room, with a solid idea, and hope your timing is right.

They're not pushing you to fail. It's a numbers game. The people in the waiting area when you left? There to pitch their show. And the people arriving in the parking lot as you leave? There to pitch after them. And so on. The odds just by sheer numbers are against you. I was told over and over what an amazing fresh take my pilot was on the procedural genre. Never sold it. Never got close. Will I save it for down the road? Sure. And maybe somebody remembers it when they're looking for a procedural in 3 years. One can hope.

Experienced credited writers hear no most of the time, but you know that. You're credited writers. But like all serious writers, you look at all rejections as personal. I know I do until I shake myself out of it, which sometimes takes a while.

Like feature scripts, there are hundreds of thousands of series pilots and ideas out there and yes, most of them bad. But agents and managers also play the numbers game, getting as many of them out there and getting just as many meetings as they can hoping one or more will stick.

I just sold a pilot. My first one. How? By sheer good fortune. Right place. Right time. The moment. At lunch with a production company exec I'd worked with who'd just moved to a new company. At the end of the lunch she casually mentioned they'd just signed a deal with a BIG TV star. Household name big. And they already had a cable network on the hook for the show, based on his name alone and the agreed upon genre. Now they needed to come up with the series for him. He had a vague idea of what he wanted. By vague, I mean 2 required elements. One kinda specific, a dog, and the other a general feeling of tone. That's it. I had genre, a dog, and tone. I asked her if I came up with an idea, could I pitch it? She said sure. Send me a one page. And over months and months of back and forth I sold the idea and wrote the pilot, on a contract, for money. They love it. Now, it's in the star's hands. And the waiting continues. And like all projects at this point, there are a million reasons it fails right here, and hundreds of miracles that have to happen for it to move forward.

Don't let all this get to you. Easy to say, hard to do. Write more pilots. Keep pitching the ones you have. Get to that moment. Nothing happens when you want it to. Ever. You hear no, punch something, preferably soft, and move on. Move forward. I get the frustration. Believe me.

And I wish you nothing but good fortune and hope you hit someone at the moment.

madworld
03-12-2016, 09:50 AM
Nobodies can and do sell shows - and it sounds like you're not a nobody to begin with. Attachments can help, but they're also time-consuming to attain. Given the narrow window for pitching (at least for network), I can see why they just want to get in the room asap.

ANECDOTE: I pitched a show to networks with WeinsteinCo as the studio, with their (awesomely supportive) exec at every pitch. After two passes, she set up some meetings with TV directors. We landed a well-known one. Didn't help at all - execs sort of nodded when we'd mention his involvement and just wanted us to get to the story. There was no sense of "Ooh, an attachment" even though this guy has made some great TV. Ultimately networks/outlets have very clear mandates of what they want to buy (often there's a weekend retreat where they ascertain "this season we want 1) a legal thriller 2) a cop drama, 3) a family drama, so go find those...")

Attachments help sometimes, not other times. Ultimately it's all about the concept and execution and pitching to the right exec on the right day.


That's the thing, attachments just take forever to get. TV movies too fast for that process. And anyone worth getting is typically working on their own stuff.

Unequal, your work is clearly having an impact so I think you and your partner are right on track. It's just really really hard to get a show going. My only suggestion (which I hesitate to give without hearing your pitches) would be to take a hard look at those concepts to determine if they are sustainable from a network perspective. Sustainability is mission critical, which you already know. You're probably already doing that, so the only thing you *can* do is just not get tired, keep at it, try not to get cynical as frustrating as the process can be.

Listen, you are in the game. Just continue to play, remember what it was like to just enjoying playing? I hope that doesn't sound reductive or dismissive because I feel your frustration. good luck, try to stay motivated, focus on those open doors and small victories. They amount to bigger ones.

surftatboy
03-12-2016, 10:36 AM
Curious...

Everyone saying 'attachments take too long' etc.

Are you guys doing network or premium cable? I feel like that may matter, although you guys surely have more experience with it.

Seems like if you're attempting to do an expensive [epic] premium cable show, you're dead without attachments, no?

With mine. Producer and agency [head of TV] feel the best approach is packaging. Makes sense to me.

Ps... Good on EdFury for admitting this is frustrating enough to often punch sh*t. Agreed. Although, I preferre punching something hard. That or breaking something. Preferably something inexpensive considering you just choked...

madworld
03-12-2016, 02:36 PM
Curious...

Everyone saying 'attachments take too long' etc.

Are you guys doing network or premium cable? I feel like that may matter, although you guys surely have more experience with it.

Seems like if you're attempting to do an expensive [epic] premium cable show, you're dead without attachments, no?

With mine. Producer and agency [head of TV] feel the best approach is packaging. Makes sense to me.

Ps... Good on EdFury for admitting this is frustrating enough to often punch sh*t. Agreed. Although, I preferre punching something hard. That or breaking something. Preferably something inexpensive considering you just choked...


Generally speaking network has a time table they adhere to whereas cable is year round, as people say. It just takes a long time to get people to read stuff and it's very saturated. There are network shows that are set up with casting in place, and there are shows that do the multiple offers and the mad scramble to cast afterwards.

My wife's latest show was already set for the exception of her role. They had cast a wide net and had difficulty filling her slot, and the timing worked with her coming off of something else. But her previous two shows were looking for the male lead after the show had sold, they weren't attachments, so you never know. This is network in those instances.

I guess the point is, an attachment that can add value is great but there are a number of instances where casting is done later, and some places prefer it that way. A great TV director attachment can be a plus too but also may not be, because a network may want a director they had in mind. The guys that are meaningful, everyone wants that, everyone chases them. It can delay the process. So to me, it's not out of the ordinary to see a tv agent not want to attach talent. In fact, every conversation I've had has been for attaching a showrunner, as I'm new, and they're always looking to group me with a solid showrunner. Even then, some places prefer *their* showrunners.

Re: punching things hard, I have a muay thai bag for sale if anyone is interested.

jimjimgrande
03-12-2016, 05:37 PM
No. They have no idea what a selling or not selling pitch sounds like. It always boils down to what works for producers or network people at that exact moment. If you're in there on the right day at the right time with the right idea for them at that exact moment... you're gold. And you have zero control over that. All you can do is be good in the room, with a solid idea, and hope your timing is right.


this.


Also, there are so many producers in TV these days. There's been a huge migration as the feature business has contracted and while these people are legit, their understanding of tv is limited. People are are hungry if not downright desperate for material, which is not a knock on your stuff, just saying that landing a producer isn't as hard as it once was.

juunit
03-13-2016, 06:10 PM
Attachments can be great. But nobody really cares if you attach some person who has directed a couple TV episodes or who has never carried a series or movie before on screen. If you get David Nutter to direct your pilot? Or a feature guy like Fincher or Soderbergh? Then you're golden, because those people move the needle with their actual work.

As nobody writers, it isn't the easiest thing in the world to convince a useful person to attach themselves to your project. Your project might suck. You might be difficult to work with/for. Audiences might hate your worldview. Agents and managers don't exactly jump at those opportunities for their clients because they're unknowns and if they go bad, they get held responsible.

When sending out audition information to clients, reps include the credits of the people involved in the project. It doesn't exactly reflect well if there's not just zero impressive titles in parentheses next to their names, but no parentheses at all. There were even some times that a person would have credits, but I wouldn't include them in the client e-mail, because nobody wants to know that the show creator directed MY LITTLE PONY 13.

Then there's all those "attachments" where there's nothing in writing, which realistically speaking isn't actually an attachment. Those are like a company with many titles "in development." Or how Kevin Spacey was gonna run Relativity.

surftatboy
03-15-2016, 01:09 PM
Gotcha. Thanks for the info guys…

But, yeah, I was referring to AAA-list attachments [Fincher-esque]. That's basically the pickle I'm in now. We're chasing those guys. So, yeah, it's taking a long [fvcking] time for anything to move on this. But on this particular show, it's big [expensive] enough where I feel like I'm dead without some pretty fancy attachments. I feel like it's got to be a House of Cards-esque turnkey deal or nothing.

surftatboy
03-15-2016, 01:17 PM
this.


Also, there are so many producers in TV these days. There's been a huge migration as the feature business has contracted and while these people are legit, their understanding of tv is limited. People are are hungry if not downright desperate for material, which is not a knock on your stuff, just saying that landing a producer isn't as hard as it once was.


Gotcha.

Let's say it's someone like Scott Rudin and you deal directly with him, not one of his execs. What sort of value do you suppose that adds when shopping for directors [on the level of a Fincher -- For me the answer for film is obvious, but perhaps it's not the same for TV]? It would seem that directors would at least be more likely to read it than if it were coming from a young hungry producer.

jimjimgrande
03-15-2016, 03:02 PM
well, Scott Rudin I'd put among the top tier of prestige feature producers, so yeah that counts for a lot.

But there are many people who've until recently made a living producing movies for studios but that money isn't there any more.

How many times in the last two years have you seen the Deadline article announcing that so and so has hired X exec to run their new TV division?

If you can get top tier feature talent to do a tv show, directors, actors, whoever, that counts for a lot.

surftatboy
03-15-2016, 05:43 PM
Gotcha. That's what I assumed.

surftatboy
03-15-2016, 06:56 PM
Ps… and considering the producer is of that stature, I'm pretty willing to go along for the ride for as long as it takes for something to either happen or die. I feel like I'm also auditioning for feature work by… well… working with him. I imagine if it were a lesser producer I'd be less willing to ride it out at this pace.

Initially, I wrote it thinking it was a huge idea [based on feedback] that we [reps and me] could go straight into a studio with and sell it outright. *9 MONTHS* later we're [me and producer] still doing rewrites on it trying to get it in shape for directors [bulk of that time spent waiting for reads].

However, when I email him he gets right back to me. That's no exaggeration. Emailed him today, 5 minutes later I have a reply… and he's currently on set. This leads me to believe he's keen on this, but busy.

This is my first time working with a producer of this stature so it's definitely a learning curve.