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Old 03-23-2015, 05:32 PM   #11
UnequalProductions
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Default Re: General boredom

I would never "spark up a splif!"

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to smoke my doctor-prescribed depression medication.
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Old 03-23-2015, 09:08 PM   #12
Bunker
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Default Re: General boredom

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Originally Posted by UnequalProductions View Post
But on top of that, too, these meetings keep me away from the thing I love most, which is actual writing. I'm prepping pitches or coming up with new pitches.
I'm a little confused. With traffic, a general only takes 2 hours away from your day. It's not an insignificant amount of time, but I wouldn't consider them overly cumbersome.

Are these pitch meetings?

Or are you going home after general meetings and generating takes based on ideas that the producers tossed out? In which case, I would just stop taking the bait unless the idea is really, really, really, really exciting.
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Old 03-24-2015, 03:06 AM   #13
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Default Re: General boredom

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Originally Posted by Bunker View Post
I'm a little confused. With traffic, a general only takes 2 hours away from your day. It's not an insignificant amount of time, but I wouldn't consider them overly cumbersome.

Are these pitch meetings?

Or are you going home after general meetings and generating takes based on ideas that the producers tossed out? In which case, I would just stop taking the bait unless the idea is really, really, really, really exciting.
Maybe I'm wrong here and if so apologies but I don't think the OP is too fussed about the amount of time taken from their day to talk shop it's more the fact that soooo many of these meetings lead to very little. Sure there's the long game and the networking aspects but that doesn't pay the rent. I've lost count how many generals I've had over recent years. Sure I've made money out of this industry but that's come from my own ideas being picked up by buyers and nothing to do with the relationships I've developed. In fact those that bought my work had never met me prior to doing so. I think a big problem is the massive lack or apparent lack of discretionary funds available so most development execs need you to put in the graft for nothing. On a side note there: Heard a great story about Elvis' manager once. He had this rule. Elvis will always be interested in a project provided his fee was paid in full up front. The fee was a million. One day he gets call from a producer saying he's got this script and it's got an Oscar all over it for Elvis. The manager aka the Colonel says "great!, can't wait to take a look. You got the million?" Cue silence and then the producer says "we've got 500k upfront." The colonel tells him to come back when he has the full fee. The producer won't give up and tells him "you're not hearing me, sure the money's less but Elvis will win an Oscar off this role. The character is so damn good!" Colonel ponders for a moment and says "okay. I believe you. Here's what we'll do. You give me the million. Elvis wins the Oscar we'll give you 500k back..."
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:59 AM   #14
UnequalProductions
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Default Re: General boredom

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Originally Posted by Bunker View Post
I'm a little confused. With traffic, a general only takes 2 hours away from your day. It's not an insignificant amount of time, but I wouldn't consider them overly cumbersome.

Are these pitch meetings?

Or are you going home after general meetings and generating takes based on ideas that the producers tossed out? In which case, I would just stop taking the bait unless the idea is really, really, really, really exciting.
2 hours? That's being generous to LA traffic. Not that it really matters. All these meetings seem to be scheduled at 10 am or 3 pm, so I end up taking a half day of vacation. Doesn't make a lot of sense to come in before a morning meeting just to leave and fight traffic, or to try to come back after finishing at 4.

All meetings are pitch meetings. Even if you're going in for a general, they're going to ask "What are you working on now?" Our agent has five pilots we've written that he sends out, so he'll tell us going in "They read your psychological thriller but really talk up your detective procedural."

Then there's the inevitable follow up. They'd love to read the two page breakdown of the series and where it goes. Gotta edit that to get it aligned for what they're after. Or write it from scratch for the first time.

We are also prepping to go back to these people with our new pitches. To do that, we need to prepare those pitches. I would way rather write an entire pilot than try to write a pitch. I'm not a performer. I get very uncomfortable trying to describe scenes and slick moments. I've spent all this time trying to make myself a great writer, not a great salesman.
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Old 03-24-2015, 12:28 PM   #15
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Default Re: General boredom

Ah, I see where the frustration is coming from.

Honestly, I think you're putting too much effort into your generals.

You shouldn't have to craft an elaborate pitch if the script already exists. All they want to know is the premise. The script proves whether or not it was executed effectively. If they're not excited by the premise (despite the fact they'll always say "Sounds interesting. Send it along."), you're not going to excite them by describing scenes and slick moments. If they are excited, then don't oversell.

Ultimately, if you feel more comfortable writing scripts than pitching, then write the scripts.

Pitching is important once you start meeting with the higher-ups, the people who have closer access to the financing. These are the people who will pay you to write the script off a pitch. But if you're just meeting with low-level DEs and CEs then it's not as if they're going to be able to pass your pitch up the ladder. And you don't want to trust them to mimic your enthusiasm when they take your project to their VP. They need something tangible to pass on... which is the script.

If the script doesn't stand on its own, and if you don't have enough of a reputation to buffer it, then it has very little chance of success. If the script DOES stand on its own, then the pitch isn't necessary.

So in answer to your original question - "Is it worth it?" I would say that with the time and effort you're committing to these generals, compared with the probability of future success stemming directly from your efforts, the answer is No. It's not worth it. Your time and creative energy would better be spent on writing new material, revised material, and supporting material. Because fully realized material is what will get you those meetings with the VPs.

The purpose of generals isn't to sell (because the person on the other side of the room isn't the buyer). It's to make fans (Fans who will one day give you that edge you need to complete the sale). So relax. Talk to them about your projects. Send them stuff when it's ready. But you don't need to craft every individual pitch to every individual producer.

And, yeah, all you'll get out of most of these is free water. Hell, I've started bringing my own water bottle, so I'm not even getting THAT anymore.
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Old 03-24-2015, 02:53 PM   #16
UnequalProductions
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Default Re: General boredom

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Originally Posted by Bunker View Post
Ah, I see where the frustration is coming from.

Honestly, I think you're putting too much effort into your generals.

You shouldn't have to craft an elaborate pitch if the script already exists. All they want to know is the premise. The script proves whether or not it was executed effectively. If they're not excited by the premise (despite the fact they'll always say "Sounds interesting. Send it along."), you're not going to excite them by describing scenes and slick moments. If they are excited, then don't oversell.

Ultimately, if you feel more comfortable writing scripts than pitching, then write the scripts.

Pitching is important once you start meeting with the higher-ups, the people who have closer access to the financing. These are the people who will pay you to write the script off a pitch. But if you're just meeting with low-level DEs and CEs then it's not as if they're going to be able to pass your pitch up the ladder. And you don't want to trust them to mimic your enthusiasm when they take your project to their VP. They need something tangible to pass on... which is the script.

If the script doesn't stand on its own, and if you don't have enough of a reputation to buffer it, then it has very little chance of success. If the script DOES stand on its own, then the pitch isn't necessary.

So in answer to your original question - "Is it worth it?" I would say that with the time and effort you're committing to these generals, compared with the probability of future success stemming directly from your efforts, the answer is No. It's not worth it. Your time and creative energy would better be spent on writing new material, revised material, and supporting material. Because fully realized material is what will get you those meetings with the VPs.

The purpose of generals isn't to sell (because the person on the other side of the room isn't the buyer). It's to make fans (Fans who will one day give you that edge you need to complete the sale). So relax. Talk to them about your projects. Send them stuff when it's ready. But you don't need to craft every individual pitch to every individual producer.

And, yeah, all you'll get out of most of these is free water. Hell, I've started bringing my own water bottle, so I'm not even getting THAT anymore.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that both my writing partner and I are very low key guys from the Midwest. We have issues talking up our work and presenting it in a dynamic way. I've always come from a place of "let the writing speak for itself," but that's not always an option.

Our pilots are great at getting us into the room, but then it becomes a conversation about where the series goes. That's more what I mean when I say prepping for pitches. For every pilot we've written, we have tons of ideas about character arcs, season cliff hangers, etc., but then it's a question of presenting that in a clear, exciting way. Easy for our procedurals but not so easy for the highly serialized stories or supernatural shows with set rules. And you have to do it in a way that the person you're talking to can then go explain the same thing to their boss.

I understand that the purpose of these meetings isn't to "sell," but essentially we're trying to sell to these lower level people so they'll take our stuff to the next level in the hopes of getting somewhere near the person with the checkbook.
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Old 03-24-2015, 03:42 PM   #17
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Default Re: General boredom

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Originally Posted by UnequalProductions View Post
Part of the problem stems from the fact that both my writing partner and I are very low key guys from the Midwest. We have issues talking up our work and presenting it in a dynamic way. I've always come from a place of "let the writing speak for itself," but that's not always an option.

Our pilots are great at getting us into the room, but then it becomes a conversation about where the series goes. That's more what I mean when I say prepping for pitches. For every pilot we've written, we have tons of ideas about character arcs, season cliff hangers, etc., but then it's a question of presenting that in a clear, exciting way. Easy for our procedurals but not so easy for the highly serialized stories or supernatural shows with set rules. And you have to do it in a way that the person you're talking to can then go explain the same thing to their boss.

I understand that the purpose of these meetings isn't to "sell," but essentially we're trying to sell to these lower level people so they'll take our stuff to the next level in the hopes of getting somewhere near the person with the checkbook.
I'm a little confused. Are these official "pitch" meetings w/ network execs or are they meetings w/prodcos and reps? For TV, the best way for outside/aspiring writers to get into a room of decision-makers (i.e., high-up network executives) is to find a producer and/or director who loves your pilot and is also repped at one of the big agencies. They will send send the pilot to their rep, and if their rep likes it, the rep will set up the meetings and will also help you with your pitch, which you would do with the producer and/or director, who are more experienced with pitching and probably better in a room. Still a long shot from there, but at least you're in the room w/decision makers or people who are one-off from the decision makers.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: General boredom

I'm collaborating with a producer now on one of mine features and thank God because if I had to go in a general I wouldn't have a clue. Like Unequal, I've spent all my time writing not pitching and I suck at it. I know I have to sharpen-up on that but I'd much rather go in with someone who at least halfway knows which end is up, especially first time out. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:28 AM   #19
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Default Re: General boredom

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I'm a little confused. Are these official "pitch" meetings w/ network execs or are they meetings w/prodcos and reps? For TV, the best way for outside/aspiring writers to get into a room of decision-makers (i.e., high-up network executives) is to find a producer and/or director who loves your pilot and is also repped at one of the big agencies. They will send send the pilot to their rep, and if their rep likes it, the rep will set up the meetings and will also help you with your pitch, which you would do with the producer and/or director, who are more experienced with pitching and probably better in a room. Still a long shot from there, but at least you're in the room w/decision makers or people who are one-off from the decision makers.
You're confused? I'm probably even more confused.

The first pilot we wrote got a really great response when it first went out. We met with production companies until we decided who we wanted to go with. They had a first-look deal with a studio. Then we met with WME who repped our producer. They all "helped" us with our pitch, and when it was ready, we started hitting networks. Pitched everywhere. Didn't sell.

We did tons of rewrites both of the pilot and the pitch for every person along the chain. Never got anything out of it. Not even an option.

Since then, we've written a handful more pilots. Signed on with a lit agent. And now we're getting meetings again.

We met with an executive with a studio, and he said "We like to see writers in with just their projects. Having a bunch of producers attached is a major turn off."

Every time I think I understand part of the business side, someone else tells me something completely different.

All I want to do is write. Went to the coffee shop last night with nothing particular to work on, and just started writing scenes. Felt so much better than worrying about all this other junk.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:32 AM   #20
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Default Re: General boredom

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I'm collaborating with a producer now on one of mine features and thank God because if I had to go in a general I wouldn't have a clue. Like Unequal, I've spent all my time writing not pitching and I suck at it. I know I have to sharpen-up on that but I'd much rather go in with someone who at least halfway knows which end is up, especially first time out. Just my 2 cents.
That's the great thing about having a writing partner. There's always someone else in the room with me who can grab the conversation if I'm going off an a strange tangent.

Recently, I've also been pitching an animated series with a comedy buddy of mine. He's much more of a performer, so that has a completely different dynamic in the room. He gets very animated, knows how to work a room, and really gets into the pitch. Though I usually end up doing all the heavy lifting as far as keeping the conversation on track.
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