Friday, August 6, 2010

If It Ain't On The Page - It Ain't On The Stage

I recently met with a production company to discuss revising their new Pitch Bible in preparation for MIPCOM. I'd read over their notes 3 times before the meeting and thought that I knew it quite well, when I sat down with them.

Then as we discussed it - I learned something about the project that wasn't in the bible. It was a comedy. I was floored. What I'd read was a grim, action-adventure piece. There was nothing remotely funny about the set-up or the characters. At all. There was not one CLUE that this was an adventure-comedy. The producer was very upset when I pointed this out to him. I think I hurt his feelings. Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

But I can imagine the hilarity that will ensue when they try to pitch the project to a broadcaster. It's like pitching a romantic comedy without mentioning the romance. Or the comedy. Cue the sound of CRICKETS. Because there will be an uncomfortable silence in the room.

You have to be specific up front about what your project is. You have to understand and communicate the genre, up front - so that everyone understands what you're doing. If you bible implies that your project is in one genre - when its really in another - then you've confused your buyer and I guarantee that they will pass on your project.

I had no idea it was supposed to be funny. Honest.


  1. I really know what you mean. That kind of unpreparedness shows how weak the storytelling is in a pitch.

  2. It isn't a matter of being unprepared. The production company "knows" what their show is about and they ASSUME that everyone else "knows", too. That's an honest and forgivable mistake. Everyone's human, right? And we're not mind readers. (That's why we have WRITERS.)

    What isn't forgivable is that because their feelings were hurt - and all I said was, "Where's the funny?" - that they will wind up with a poorly written pitch bible (which although it was nice and fat, had very little real "content"). And "poorly written" doesn't sell.