Most of you have heard me say "Ask Big" when it comes to asking people you know to do soft introductions to people you want to pitch and yet you still will do either 1 or 2 things:
- Nothing. You may be too afraid to ASK.
- Nothing. You may not believe that sometimes all it takes is an open mouth.
I’ve written about this topic in articles before and I’ve also suggested this very thing in most of my pitching workshops and when I follow up with people to see if they have used their networks to get pitches, the answer is most of the time a resounding, “no.”
To test this theory, I decided to take my advice about asking people I know to introduce me to people who I wanted to pitch, by asking them to do a soft introduction. So, I asked a friend of mine if she wouldn't mind doing a soft introduction to the head of development at a pretty well known production company, with hopes that I can pitch the production company. I knew she and the lady were associates, and I felt based on the company's previous projects and what they currently had in development, that at least three of my television shows could suit their mandate.
You've heard the saying; "a closed mouth won't get fed," haven't you? Well, taking my advice worked for me. After the introduction had been made, I followed up asking for a chance to pitch. As a favor, the executive responded that same day, she expressed how busy she was, and told me to fill out their release form with more information on the projects I was interested in pitching. She said if she were interested in any of them, she would follow up with me and let me know which she'd like to hear about. That day, I filled out the release and sent six projects to her, 3 of them fit, and the others I was unsure about, but just incase they were heading in a different direction, I wanted the others to be considered. My submission included the: Title, genre, logline, and a brief synopsis.
A month had passed, and I hadn't heard from her. I had had a conversation with then Sr. Director of development at BET on the topic, "When and how to follow up," (You can read his entire interview in chapter 9), and based on our conversation, I decided to reach out to her based on the fact that she said she was “very busy.” I didn’t jump to conclusions that she was uninterested, I figured, she could have forgotten about my email. I followed up with her by email asking her when would be a good time for a brief chat. Another twelve days passed before receiving an email from her asking me if I had time to meet the following Thursday. She was giving me 15 minutes of her time! Honestly, I stressed out. Why? Well, because she hadn't said which project she was specifically interested in, and I forgot to ask and was too afraid to email her back, which meant I had to prepare to pitch them all. Also, the thoughts looming in my head were that I was developing a new relationship and this meeting could determine if my network would grow, and if the door would be open in the future for all of the ideas undoubtedly my mind would produce. Relationships are everything! I was able to pass my bout with fear, and create a one sheet for all of my projects for guidance. Then, I rehearsed.
On the call, (our meeting was by phone since the production company is in L.A., and I’m in New Jersey), She sounded rushed. She said she had a deadline to meet that day. Crap. I asked her if she wanted to hear about any of the projects in particular. She stated that her company was interested in scripted content so to start there, but that I could choose which project to discuss. It was followed by another mention of her deadline; I knew there wasn't much time left. Oh the joys of pitching by phone. It was now or never. At that moment, I heard Robert Townsend's voice blaring out at me from when I pitched him, "Just tell me the story!!!" So, I began telling the story of the strongest, most interesting character I'd written about. Then the next one and the next, until the silent alarm rang, telling her time was up. Our speed dating pitch session was over. She said she would get back to me.
The next morning in my inbox was an email from my newly formed relationship, asking me for a second date. She inquired if I had a series bible and a pilot script written for my project with the intriguing character whose story I told first. I replied, "Well, of course! She also expressed interest in another project too. To which I thought, but hadn't said, "Jeez, you are asking for a lot of goodies on the second date!" But for the sake of my characters, I decided to take one for the team and relented: "Oh, what the heck, just take all of me."
- Practice prepares you to have grace under pressure.
- Always think of Robert Townsend in tough pitching situations and just tell your story.
- Most importantly, start your story with the character that is the most intriguing to you. Start first talking about the character that is like the love of your life or a miracle baby that came into your life and changed your world forever.
- Lastly, be prepared and have all pitch materials ready in case they ask you to hand them over. Just make sure you have registered them all with WGA first (Writers Guild of America).