Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pitching Your Ideas (Part IV)

Up to this point (Parts I - III) of this posting about pitching, I talked a bit about preparing for making a pitch, setting up the appointments, preparing the "leave behind," and being prepared to listen to what your pitch contact is saying to you during the pitch.

Here is the final segment.

Rick Schmitz, Brad Constantine, and I drove up to LA first thing in the morning and met with an executive with Film Roman. We were glad that F.R. was the first pitch because we didn't know that much about them and we needed a chance to get into some sort of groove. The exec let us pitch all our properties (
Fly By Night, Digitiz'd and Creeple) and then he asked some questions about them. The most interesting was whether we thought the pitches were suitable for Flash anmation techniques ... and we said that out of all of them, Creeple was probably the most so, Digitiz'd the least, and Fly By Night somewhere inbetween ... ).

And that was that ... about 40 minutes, some nice coffee and water and a great, friendly meeting. He'd get back to us.

Next, we went to a comic book store to drop some minutes before lunch with Jeff Ranjo at his (then) digs at Disney ... What a great time, great conversation, (and the food was good, too).

Then we had to rush over to Cartoon Network to meet with Heather Kenyon (Family side) and Anissa Dorsey (Adventure side). Kenyon met with us first and we pitched Fly By Night and Creeple to her. The Film Roman experience showed because we were much calmer as we moved through the material. We were also calm because Kenyon's demeanor put us at ease -- you could tell she wanted us to succeed, maybe even as much as we wanted to do so ourselves.

The pitching went well and afterward Rick and Brad chatted about their background and experiences as I went next door to pitch Digitiz'd to Dorsey. Like Kenyon, she was professional but friendly. I went through the pitch with her and the we, too, chatted for a bit.

Here are the breakdowns of results:

1) Fly By Night: Was a keeper for Kenyon (though subsequently passed on). Good characters, nice casting a family of vampires against a high tech city, excellent designs and leave behinds.

2) Creeple: Also very enthusuastic about the visuals, but Kenyon wondered about

3) Dorsey asked a lot of questions, then basically passed on the pitch because she already had too many superhero stories and couldn't see adding another, especially one that didn't wasn't an established property. She also doubted whether a female superhero could generate interest in their core demongraphic (youngish boys) to get going. Lastly, she thought that Impy, the avatar, was too much like the Genie in Aladdin ... too derivative.

Being prepared is always good, and one of the pointers that stuck with me was: "Think on your feet during a pitch ... don't just lay down and die." So, after Dorsey finished, I asked if I could make a counter suggestion ... and that was to take the young supporting character and elevate him to be the star of the show. Then, Impy could become his sidekick... the female superhero angle would be gone, the main character would be a young male with attitude, and who wouldn't want to have a digital sidekick to help get you into and out of trouble.

The upshot is that Dorsey liked the twist and invited me to put together new materials and come back up for a second session. I did so, and the meeting went well, though Digitiz'd was ultimately passed on.

The last pitch of the day went to Nickelodeon. While we were pitching, who should saunter down the hallway outside our conference room but Doug TenNapel ... and he stopped in to pump us up (and deride the videogame industry that still employed all of us at that time (and continues to do so). In the end, while the Nick exec liked some of our approaches, they were looking for a zany compliment to SpongeBob Squarepants and nothing we brought compared even a bit favorably (Creeple came the closest).

After dinner, we went home, buoyed up by the experience and looking forward to the future.

Ask me any question you might have about pitching - I'm an email click away. Pitching is a process of learning, experimenting, and challenging yourself to develop something that makes someone stop and say, "I've never seen anything like that before ... and I want to see more!" And while the future still holds limitless possibilities, think about making a pitch yourself (yourselves ... ).

Like us, you won't ever regret it.


Skribbl said...

Thanks for doing this Tom! I've only pitched a TV idea once so it's great to hear how others did. Mine was optioned but didn't make it out of development hell.BTW I didn't expect you to write this up so soon! Crazy!

TopCat said...

It'll be incremental (instead of just mental), so expect what's there to be compressed each day and a new layer added ... It does make for a good story, but sometime you need to share your adventure too. :-)

rickart said...

It was a great day! I went into it with no expectations and just enjoyed the idea that we got further than about 99% of the people that ponder doing a pitch. That we presented well and were pretty well received is icing on the cake for me.

And Heather Kenyon was terrific. She spent a LOT of time with us and gave us lots of inside info on what sort of stuff they look for at Cartoon Network.

We had a blast!

Mr Goodson said...

Tom, Great contribution. I like your Gated Community idea. I mailed a storyboard pitch to Frederator ( I missed the deadline to be someone who acts it out). The Nick lecture from Frederator on what they look for in a pitch is something I could transcribe and share here. Welcome to TAG Tom.

Dok said...

That was fascinating!

rickart said...

Ach! I just realized that my Hotwire and Tux costume designs are too similar! And I like Hotwire's better!

TopCat said...

Who is "Tux...?" I'll have to check your site and your blog to find out!!

Also, Digitiz'd is going to be pitched again, this time to Platinum. I really think that the cumulative experience of writing and pitching a property is such that you should never simply drop an idea, but add to it, reorganize it, improve it and then find new places to send it. And anyway, Felicity (my daughter for TAG peeps that don't know me) won't let it die ... she looooves Lotus/Hotwire...

rickart said...

Cool! Break a leg!