Tuesday, December 8, 2009

T'is Better To Give...

It's the season of giving - so let's talk about it.

We've all been to events; trade shows, conventions, etc., where as we walk past booths or tables, we stop and pick up free pens and stuff. Right? Everyone does it. We have drawers full of free stuff.

Likewise, when I'm at Sheridan College's Industry Day each year in April - the kids keep foisting demo reels and art samples on me. To be honest, I'm not in a position to hire anyone, so I rarely if ever take a sample. Better that you guys give them out to people who might actually hire you.

But in the pitching process, people often give out things - to entice the person on the other side of the table to take on their projects. If you go into the office of a Broadcast Executive or even a Develpment "executive" - they're filled with really neat treasures. Art, scale models - they invariably wear a cool "crew jacket" - or they did, back in the day.

A few years ago when I was pitching my "Egypt Side Road" movie in Toronto and L.A. - aside from the amazing book that I had made up for the pitches (see the earlier post) - I gave out sample animation cels. Here's a look...

They were gorgeous. 11" X 17" matted on acid free paper. Hand painted with amazing detail that doesn't reproduce here. And they weren't cheap - but because I was trying to promote my movie, I had quite a few made up. And as I quickly discovered - they disappeared fast. (I have a few left that might wind up on eBay at some point. Hint Hint...)

The point is - people started grabbing them because they were way-cool and free. I was getting calls and notes - requests for these great pieces of art - and people were chatting me up. But these people weren't interested in my movie - they were grabbing the art. I remember shipping a couple of these off to some sleaze-ball executives in L.A. - with the packing and insurance... Yeesh.

On another project - I pitched a live action show, where the lead characters drove around in a really amazing custom car. We would have built it full size for the show - but I made an incredibly detailed scale model for the pitch.

When I unveiled it - the Broadcast Exec gasped said, "I want that model." I looked at her across the table and said, "Buy my show - and I'll give you the model." She didn't blink.

I knew that if I didn't hand over the model car - there was no way she'd buy my show. And even if I did - there was still no guarantee that she'd buy my show. I handed it over. She didn't buy my show - and I'm down, one really, really cool model car.

Now days, I go in to pitch with very simple pitches - usually printed on plain paper, very simply bound.

So the point is - if your pitch needs some kind of gimmick to sell it, maybe it's not worth pitching. A truly great idea stands on its own.


  1. I always believe that story will always sell over merchandise. Right? Or am I getting to philosophical

  2. Content is King. If the idea isn't great, all the window dressing in the world isn't going to save it.

  3. I agree that the idea has to be great! But If I am showing drawings! They've got to be presented nicely too. Could you give me a heads up of what paper to use in a pitch bible? Any online printing places you could suggest would be helpful too!
    Thank you,

  4. What paper to use in a Pitch Bible? Jeez... Over the years I've used everything from plain old white typing paper to exotic Japanese handmade papers created from the belly-button-lint of the now extinct Luna Moths.

    But the big question is, Does it help the content? Does it help the main idea? Always keep that in mind.