Textbook Pitching and Catching Breaks

 

I woke on November 3, 2016  gagging because it felt like I swallowed a handful of razorblades and they were caught in my throat. Not good, especially considering the pitch meeting at a major cable network on the schedule. I  immediately recognized my condition as an acute sore throat. I don’t get them often but when I do, I am virtually incapacitated because I get the worst of ’em. However, the pain subsided and I got ready for my meeting. First I had to drive to Santa Ana, 20 miles south (40 miles roundtrip), for a employer related meeting. Afterward I returned home and got ready to drive the 25 miles north. I coaxed my niece Alexa to get my tribe from school — that favor is going to cost me some Starbucks and a position as Operations Manager when I get my production company running at full speed. No worries.

catching the sun.jpgI hit the shower, shave my head and trim my mustache. I’m hoping I can catch a break and survive the meeting and ultimately… day. But oh-oh, I get a sharp radiating pain in my throat again. Now it’s becoming achy.

I grab a bottle of water and head out on the 405 freeway north to Century City, LA. I’m meeting my cohort, Kali, thirty minutes before the meeting to go over any last minute strategy changes. Plus, we’re hoping to get a room with a conference phone so we can conference in Dionna who’s standing by in Atlanta.

On the way I call Dionna and we talk about strategy. She can hear the difference in my voice and I tell her that my throat feels like I have to force the words out louder in order to get them out. She prays for me. Also, my ears appear to be getting clogged as well.

I arrive in Century City, meet up with  Kali and I know I have limited time before my voice goes out. It’s not a question of if my voice goes out, it’s a question of when.

We settle in for the meeting and, wham. Score. They have one of those Polycom phones in the room and we conference Dionna in from Atlanta. We meet  the VP of Development and a Development Manager. Nice. No middle men here.

We pitch. I start, intro concept, proposal, highlights. Kali handles characters and reinforces the concept. Dionna has a person touch and familiarity. She’s been there done that, and lives there! We hit ’em from all three angles. It’s textbook. It’s like the Cubs coming back from a 3-1 deficit. We break out the sizzle reel. They love it.And my voice is holding up. The meeting is my new benchmark for how well a pitch meeting should go! The only thing that could be better would be if they handed us a check on our way out.

We make plans to send deliverables to [our] Agent who will send to the VP and Manager asap. I hop in my Expedition and check Siri. 2.15 hrs of traffic between me and home. Yikes. And then — you guessed it, my throat starts up again. It’s bad this time. Feels like a spiky golf ball is in resting just below my epiglottis. I get home — finally, make dinner for my kids and realize. Uh oh, I’m running a fever.

But you know what? I don’t care. We had a damn great amazing pitch meeting even thought I didn’t feel up to it. All I need to do now is get well before next Friday when we do it all over again.

Signed,

Resting. Recuperating and Working.

 

 

Sizzle Pitch Execute

Sizzle. Pitch. Execute: The Importance of Being Prepared

“Do you have a sizzle reel?” The VP of Program Development asked us.

“Why, yes. Yes we do,” I happily answered.

I said this as we sat in the conference room during a TV pitch meeting with a major cable network on Thursday. I knew we had a sizzle reel because both my pitching/producing partner and I had our Mac tools with us. He had a Macbook. I had an iPad. I had downloaded a hardcopy to my iPad, he came network-ready, prepared to tap into our host’s Internet network to view the clip online (our backup plan in the event that I stupidly dropped my iPad by some off chance).

The sizzle had gone through several incarnations and rewrites. Each time it became a little better and a little more concise. Over the past two years the fatty fluff had been cut from our sizzle reel — I know because I cut every version of it. Each time I cut a sequence I went through withdrawals, but there was job to do and we unanimously did what was necessary.

It’s important to be prepared on all fronts when you enter a pitch meeting. It seems like common sense, no? But I’ve gone into meetings with folks who weren’t prepared to answer questions, who had no strategy. They assume all they are required to do is talk, talk, talk and sell, sell sell.  Not so.

Pitching  film and television is a process of engagement. As the creator/producer you job is to have the tools and words to convince the development executive to come to feel about your project the same way you feel; to love it like you love it. And that includes every aspect of the show, the characters, the premise, the theme, and the format.

We came with the sizzle. We were pitch-ready. And we executed our plan.

Fear Can Stifle Your Dreams Or Inspire Action to Achieve

What Drives You?

The other day I was having a delicious Caribbean meal  and I reminisced about the time I was neck deep in pitching the networks at NBCUniversal. At the time I was developing my action thriller, Resurrection of Serious Rogers.

During dinner my friend asked me, “What drives you, Angelo?”

No one had ever really asked me that question so succinctly before. I’ve been asked what do I want to accomplish in life? How do keep going? But never have I been to discuss what drives me.

I sat and thought about it, but I already had the answer swimming around my brain. What drives me now is different. I’m older, hopefully more experienced, have more fruitful connections with people.

What motivates me is the knowledge that I love this business and I’m confident that a career as a writer, and all that comes with it, is my destiny.

What drives me, the thing that keeps me going one more day – day after day after day, is the fear that I will not be prepared to take advantage of an amazing opportunity when it presents itself. That is why I continually create stuff, and why I’m never satisfied with the amount of things I’ve created. It’s why I’ve written two books (three if you view the first book as a two). It’s why I have a heavy plate of screenplays and teleplays to write this summer.

My fear drives me, but if unchecked I know that it can cripple me.  It is a double-edged sword, but a sword is a skillful weapon nonetheless.

I use this fear to push me to do things I am not comfortable doing. I used to hate pitching. In fact, I still hate it. My throat would clench at the mere thought of pitching to some snooty stranger. Even after 40+ pitches with network TV executives I still need two minutes to gather myself if I want to be good in the room. However pitching is a necessary evil, and now I envision every pitch as an opportunity to succeed rather than a chance to fail.

I fear not having pitches more than I fear attending a pitch.

What’s my greatest fear now? Phone calls. I loathe them. I get tongue-tied and stammer like an incoherent babbling knucklehead.

So guess what I’ve done more of in the last few weeks? I’ve made phone calls. Why? Because I fear not being prepared to take advantage of an opportunity as a result of my I refusal to call an agent or development executive more than I fear sounding like a dope on the phone.