Friday, April 28, 2006
Afraid of the Pitch?
Well the door has been cracked some more and we got some interest from a big fish out there to see what sort of ideas we might have for some new projects. I can not disclose who or what, but I can tell you about the experience.
A few days ago I got the opportunity to pitch to a major studio who approached me saying
“let’s make something, we are interested"
The funny thing is I got this call on my cell from the studio Exec. VP while I was on set shooting my short comedy piece. I had about 30 people on location at the time and didn't have a lot of time to talk, but we opened a communication and eventually that came to an actual meeting with me pitching to them some of our ideas. Now don't get to excited, it nothing like a big feature or millions of dollars or anything.. come on stay with me here, stay grounded. You have to walk before you can run.. and fall and trip and hurt yourself bad.
Now I have spoken with various distributors, smaller studios, a few fairly large producers and so forth, but this is the first time for me to talk to the big studio directly. And they came to me... that is a lot better they you soliciting them. In a sense I lost my virginity, as it was the first time at this level that I got to pitch, and I have to say they were very gentle and kind. It was fun and I hope I get more opportunities and get better at it. Just like losing your virginity, the first time can be nerves, clumsy, and awkward while you are trying to figure everything out. I still can not unhook bras from that back worth a damn.. but from the front I am golden.
I am still amazed that in this industry you find that not everyone is a jerk, and the horror stories you read are not all true (though some are) Sure they are very fast talkers (as they are very busy) and the pace is quick, but I have found that there really are some pretty good people in this industry. I have met a few various contacts and have been amazed at how grounded, kind, and just down right pleasant they are. Drew Struzan is a name that comes to mind who I think is an excellent person in the industry. Very nice guy! As well as people I have met at ILM and various writers and directors. They are just like you and me and enjoy doing what they do. They have families and dreams and started somewhere once too.. just like you and me, and they are pretty damn good at what they do. It's the ones who treat people bad, or look down on them, or think they are hot shit and know it, or have huge ego or the world owes them something.. Oh man those are the ones to watch out for.. .wait a minute that ME! .. ah.. nobody is that and a bag of nuts. I don't care who you are.
Now don't be fooled however. Everyone talks a good game and they might say how much they want to make you the next big thing and how your film and art is so brilliant and so forth and so on, but in the end guys what they are looking for is to make money from you. Of course, it's show BUSINESS, not show show. Just always keep that in mind and make sure you get it in writing and don't believe anything till you do. They can talk, say, and promise all they want and you stay polite saying "oh that's great" but till you see it on paper in a contract it don't mean shit. For me I don't play the game, I simply tell them what I think and feel and leave it at that, and hope they like our ideas. I try to keep it simple in a complex business. Perhaps that's why I am not that good at it.
But my experience at my first official pitch session was good and I got through it fine, and they actually liked one of our ideas, or at least zeroed in on one of them. What I did and how this worked, since it was a prelim meeting, is that I conducted it via a phone conference. I created a website with our ideas that had concept art and visuals to perhaps help the studio see the vision and idea of the logline and story. Anything to help them see what we are looking to create, and seeing as I am east coast and they are west coast, I thought this would be the best way to pitch without me physically being there in front of them waving my arms around, making sound FX with my mouth and big hand gestures while jumping on their couch and crawling on the floor to demonstrate the action. :)
So, just as I made my films, I conducted my pitch to the studio via the internet and a phone conversation, as I have experience talking and directing to people without ever meeting them in person. It worked fine I think and the response I got at the end was
"We like this idea and will look it over, think it through, and give you a call next week to talk further"
My response to that was " oh that's fine. I am use to the 'Don't call us we'll call you' scenario. No worries"
To which they responded "It's not like that at all. I am very prompt and we will speak next week. We just want to take all this information you have given to us in and then see what we think of it and what we can do with it. We will talk again."
Either way I am fine with it and look forward to speaking to them, as I stated they were very kind and gentle and it was not as bad as I thought the whole thing would be. After the call I was drained however. If the whole thing goes to serious "let's do it" mode then I would have to present and pitch in person and that is much better then over the phone.
Was I nervous? You bet, but I always get stage fright, I always have. Every time I go on live TV or even just to speak on stage I get nervous, but that is just your body prepping you to do what you have to do. The trick is to take that negative energy and make it positive as your body is giving you what you need. tough to do sometimes, but just tell yourself "what do I care. Just be yourself and enjoy it. If you screw up, so what! Your human and these people are no different then you" the trick sometimes works, sometimes not ;)
Just be yourself.
So will it work out and do we make a sale with these guys? I am not sure, but you know me (or perhaps do if you read this blog stuff of mine) I won't hold my breath and try and stay grounded. I don't believe much till I see it, but you have got to try and keep doing it.