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    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    The Pitch

    Pitching is an odd thing. Basically what you are doing is trying to convince a production company head or studio executive that they should read your work, and then give you money to make it, or help you find the money. In the case of film you have somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes to do so. The advice I’ve been given was keep it short, between 10 and 15 min., and sell the first act heavy, the second act strongly, and by the time you get to the third act, they’re either interested or not. Two hours of movie condensed into 1/8th of the time. I was also forwarded a useful quote by Terry Gilliam on the subject of pitching by an old friend I’ve recently become reacquainted with.

    "Move your hands a lot. It makes them think something's happening."

    In my case, this past Friday, I was pitching a TV series idea to the head of a production company. More than that, I was supposed to have two other of my TV series ideas in my pocket to soft pitch after the main pitch.

    Now, the way I got the meeting was that my script was read and agreed on unanimously by the four “gate keepers” of the company to be moved forward for the Principal to read. When I arrived however, he had not yet had a chance to read it, so I changed tactics a bit and pitched the entire two hour pilot, act by act.

    I’d woken at 5:00 AM, and between 5 and 6:30, I had knocked out a rough two and a half page outline of the script. I did this so if I got lost or confused during the pitch, I’d have it to remind me where I was and what happened next. It turns out I needed it more than I knew.

    I arrived on the Lot at 7:30 AM, and got a coffee at the commissary and sat outside to sort of relax and focus before the 9:00 AM meeting. I’d woken in the middle of the night with a sinus infection coming on, so I also wanted time literally for my head to clear. I also arrived early so I could pre scout the building the meeting was going to be in on the lot. I had never been on this lot and knew that if I didn’t know where I was going, I could easily get lost and arrive late.

    Coffee in hand, I sent a quick text to a member of the production company to let them know I was on the lot and would see them just before nine. I did this for a few reasons. Should the meeting get pushed, they knew I would be nearby, also if something came up, I was ready if they needed me early.

    Just before 8:45, I availed myself of the restroom and then went to the meeting. I let them know I was there and then waited nervously as the rest of the staff arrived for the meeting. Now, this being my first “official” pitch meeting, I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but in many ways it worked to my advantage.

    When the time came, I was ushered into the office of the head of the production company. I was told to have a seat on the sofa opposite his desk as the rest of the development staff took seats to my right and left. I was basically now pitching to 5 people, but four of them had read the script. A little small talk first and then the pitch.

    Now I became a writer because I’m no good as a performer unless I have a few drinks in me. So, needless to say as the next 30+ minutes passed of me listening to myself rattle off my story, I was acutely aware of where my shortcomings were as they happened. But, whenever I was in doubt, I had the outline. I didn’t worry that every now and then I would break eye contact with the person I was pitching to double check where I was. If I saw him becoming restless, I would jump directly to the “action” of the act and then use my outline to make sure I knew where I was and what I had left out. But truth be told, even I was tiring of listening to myself by the end of it.

    Luckily, it seemed to work, as he agreed to read it with an eye on taking it to a specific network. His exact words were, “Now I want to read it.” Of course later he also pointed out all of the other scripts on his desk as an indication that while he would read it, it wasn’t going to be the next day. I was interrupted a few times during the pitch for good questions, and tried to answer them as well as possible.

    Once the pitch was over and he agreed to read the script, I was asked what else I had, and did quick 5 minute set-up pitches of the basic idea of those series. Of course talk was also made about the upcoming pilots in the works and I had also printed out a list of the in production pilots for the network he had his deal with. Since he had not seen this, I gave it to him. Always come bearing information that they may not have. I had a feeling they hadn’t really looked into it yet.

    On my way out, an hour and 45 minutes after the meeting had started, I made sure to shake everyone’s hands and thank them for reading my work. When the mention of a certain network was made, not the one they have a deal with, but the one he is eyeing to take my pitch too, I quickly said that if that was the case, then I did have a script that would work well for that network too. I did a quick 1 minute logline pitch and informed them that they already had it and a signed agreement, which sparked renewed interest and the person I had been dealing with throughout this entire experience sad he’d send it around.

    I don’t really have a point to all this other than a sort of overview of what happened, it’s just always a good idea to be as prepared as possible, but don’t over prepare. These things shift, be ready for anything, and try not to plan out how you think it will go.

    Later I was told that the meeting had gone well, and that getting him to read it was a major step.

    But, I have to go to work tomorrow like nothing happened, because there is always a possibility nothing will. But I think it’s starting to look good. Wednesday, April 1 will mark my three-year anniversary here. It took me that long to get a pitch meeting, and I have very well regarded and influential people who I know here. Just because you know someone important doesn’t mean they can help you. The truth of the matter is, most of them won’t, that’s just the way it is out here. Truth is that what I’ve found out is that the people you think might help you are most often the one who won’t. It’s usually not malicious, because if they're that successful, they’re usually too busy.

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Viper Cockpit

    I used to have one of these and still have most of the stuff that came with it, but I did use the patch. It was destroyed by my music teacher who turned it inside out for a spring concert in 3rd or 4th grade, where myself and and another poor fellow dressed up like Marvin the Martian and did the shtick between the songs. She turned it inside out so the audience could see it. I had in on stage to give me and the other guy something to look at other than the Audience, who were of course terrifying and most likely going to eat us. I'm not sure I even have it in me to forgive her now. She didn't even ask, just ripped it apart and taped it back together. I didn't know this until I walked on stage, but as they say, the show had to go on.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009


    I've got a number of things going at the moment, so I haven't been paying much attention to the site. Beyond working during the week, I'm finishing the rough draft of an OAV for my friend I was working on the comics with, which got postponed due to no advance money thanks to the economy. I've finished a rough draft of a 30 min dramedy for some friends and am getting feedback on where it needs to go. I have a pitch meeting on Friday morning with a mystery person, on a studio lot in Burbank. No idea how that will go or where, if anywhere, it will lead. It's odd, it's been almost exactly three years since I arrived here, and only now are things looking possible, just as financially they are almost untenable. So, give me some time. I'll get back to Wizard and all the other things I've let languish.

    Enjoy St. Patrick's day and drink one for me.

    UPDATE: As often happens here, the pitch session has been rescheduled until next Friday. So, that means normal paid work Friday and one less nerve wracking thing for the week. It'll be interesting how it schedules out in the end. I'll keep updating here.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    wizard xxx

    Someone found my blog using the search keywords of , "wizard xxx". I can't tell you how proud this makes me. Now that I've used it twice more, I hope to be the first and last choice of all internet pioneers looking for "wizard xxx".

    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    Been a bit

    It's been a bit. Some of the reasons are good, some are normal. Things may be coming together for something, or they may not. Either way it's been occupying most of my reserve brain gas. I know I need to be more prolific here, Since the first of the year it's been an unsure sort of thing. If things go well, I'll talk about them, if they don't. I'll probably talk about them as well. Suffice to say there is forward motion, but of what velocity, I do not yet know, so keep checking in, and I'll do my best to try and distract you until I know something.

    It occurred to me that it's the WATCHMEN weekend, finally, and I can't say I'll have time or money this weekend to see it, but hopefully at some point I will. Movies and comics are two completely different things, so keep that in mind if you decide to see the movie. It won't be the comic, no matter how hard it tries, but it might be an entertaining film. Should I get out and see it I'll let you know what I think, but it's been so long since I've read the comic, I won't be able to be critical of the transference, which is probably a good thing.

    Sunday, March 01, 2009

    February 2009 Round-Up

    February 2009 Round-Up

    I’m tracking everything I watch, read and write in 2009. Here’s the February Round-Up. The writing was visibly down. I wish I had a good excuse. The TV watching seem to have gone up and I seem to have read almost nothing.

    Words Written: 4084
    Projects Worked on: 2
    Scripts Read: 1
    Movies Watched: 6
    TV Shows Watched (episodes): 75
    Books Read: 0
    Comics read (issues): 0


    Hulk Vs. Wolverine
    Hulk Vs. Thor
    Dead Like Me: Life After Death


    The Clone Wars 1X15
    Legend of The Seeker 1X11
    Leverage 1X9
    Big Love 3X3
    24 7X6
    24 7X7
    Heroes 3X14
    No Heroics 1X3
    Fringe 1X13
    No Heroics 1X4
    My Name is Earl 4X17
    30 Rock 3X10
    Burn Notice 2X12
    The Clone Wars 1X16
    Being Human 1X1
    Life 2X13
    Being Human 1X2
    Battlestar Galactica 4X14
    Lost 5X4
    Supernatural 4X14
    Heroes 3X15
    Fringe 1X14
    Life 2X14
    Lost 5X5
    Leverage 1X10
    Leverage 1X11
    30 Rock 3X11
    Batman:TBATB 1X10
    The United States of Tara 1X1
    The United States of Tara 1X2
    The United States of Tara 1X3
    My Name is Earl 4X17
    Battlestar Galactica 4X18
    Dollhouse 1X1
    Burn Notice 2X13
    Nip/Tuck 5X18
    Nip/Tuck 5X19
    24 7X8
    Terminator: TSCC 2X14
    Being Human 1X3
    Being Human 1X4
    Big Love 3X4
    Big Love 3X5
    24 7X9
    Heroes 3X16
    Nip/Tuck 5X20
    Leverage 1X12
    Life 2X15
    My Name is Earl 4X19
    Lost 5X6
    Doctor Who 4X1
    Doctor Who 4X2
    Burn Notice 2X14
    Battlestar Galactica 4X16
    Dollhouse 1X2
    Doctor Who 4X6
    Big Love 3X6
    24 7X10
    Heroes 3X17
    Leverage 1X13
    Nip/Tuck 5X21
    Doctor Who 4X7
    Lost 5X7
    Life 2X16
    30 Rock 3X12
    Burn Notice 2X15
    Doctor Who 4X9
    Doctor Who 4X10
    The Clone Wars 1X19
    Battlestar Galactica 4X17
    Batman:TBATB 1X11
    Dollhouse 1X3
    The United States of Tara 1X4
    The United States of Tara 1X5
    The United States of Tara 1X6