Here are some questions I had when I was starting out, and I still get asked them on a regular basis. If you have more questions that aren’t answered in the site, send me a message via the Contact Page and I’ll answer it here or on the blog.
Is it a good idea to trade a percentage of my show for services rendered if it helps move my show forward? Ie: artwork, getting a website built, etc.
No. This is generally a bad idea.
First, it makes it harder to negotiate when selling your show if you own it with other partners, and if you give them a percentage of the show they DO own part of it and when contracts are signed they have a say in everything. You don’t want that.
Also, if this is your first show, by the time you get your show it greenlit you will not get much out of it. You will likely get a small percentage of the budget and not much more. So if you start dividing up your ownership you will end up paying a lot more than the services are worth.
If I run into an Executive in a social setting is it ok to pitch to them? Even if it might be my only chance to get in front of them?
No it is not ok to do this. If you’ve met them before it may be ok (depending on the familiarity of the relationship) to say “Hi. Could I call you next week? I have something I think you’d be interested in.” This is about as much as you should say. And if you are saying that you’d better be ready to pitch the hell out of your show.
Is it ok to swear in a pitch if it’s an edgy show?
If the swear word is in the title it makes sense that you have to, but other than that, I would stay away from it. You don’t want to give them as simple a reason as swearing in a meeting to not to like your show.
How do I keep creative control when I sell my show?
This is a tough one. Retaining creative control is extremely rare unless you have an impressive track record of shows you’ve made and/or are extremely talented and extremely lucky. Your best bet to stay involved creatively is to develop your show so thoroughly that they know having you on board creatively will make the show better.
Do I need to write the Logline? Won’t the marketing people write that when advertising the show?
Yes you need to write a Logline. The Logline is your most important sales tool. It opens every single pitch. When an Exec asks what your show is about, you answer with your Logline. If you cannot describe your show in one sentence you still don’t fully understand the essence of it.
Do I need to write scripts for all the episode ideas I have?
No you do not. But writing a script for at least one of the episodes is important so you get a thorough grasp of what the show is like from start to finish. This is not something you would include in any pitch documents to an Executive but not taking the time to write at least one script will be hindrance later on in the development process.
If an Exec has said they’ll get back to me in a few days, how long should I wait to call or email them again?
I generally allow two weeks. This is a tricky one and it depends on your relationship with them but if you DO email or call them again I find I’ve gotten better results when I ask if there is anything else they need from me as opposed to blatantly drawing attention to the fact that they said they’d respond in a few days and it’s been half a month.
What do entertainment lawyers, agents, and managers charge?
Entertainment lawyers can be in the hundreds of dollars an hour, although they will sometimes work on contingency which is general 5% of your earnings. An agent takes 10% of your earnings and a manager generally takes 15% of your earnings.
How long can the One Sheet be?
I have seen them longer than one page but those were written by Development Execs. So here’s the deal, your One Sheet should be one page. Once you’re a hotshot Exec you can make them as long as you want, but until then, your One Sheet should be one page. That’s it.
Should I send Christmas and birthday cards to Execs I’ve met?
Christmas cards yes, though to be sensitive to people’s different beliefs I send Happy Holiday cards. Birthday cards no, because unless you’re actually friends with them that’s kind of creepy.
Does it make a difference if I’m going to be the host of the show?
Yes. If you plan to be the host of the show you need to be submitting a demo reel of yourself when you pitch the show. If you are an integral part of the show they need to know it, and they need to see it. You must prove to them you’re the one for the job, and the only way to do that is to submit some professionally shot footage of yourself, preferably in situations similar to those in your show.
Is it a good idea to attach a Director or Producer to my show before I pitch it?
No. The only way this is a good idea is if they are heavy hitters. And by heavy hitters I mean someone who has made big shows and who has a recognizable name. Attaching a Director or Producer no one has heard of is only a hindrance because now the Production Company or Broadcaster can’t get the people they want; people who are proven to be really good at what they do. Also, attaching people to your show isn’t a sign that you’re connected but rather a sign to the people you’re pitching that you aren’t that familiar with how the business works.
Do I need a business card?
Yes. If you want to look like a professional you need to act like a professional, and the first thing you need is a business card. It needs to have your name, phone number and email address on it so people know how to get a hold of you. You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money on this. There is more detail on this in Chapter 8 – Promo Material and check out the Help Me Help You section for recommended companies.
Do I need a custom email address for my show?
Yes and no. On the no side it’s not absolutely necessary. But, on the yes side, it does indicate you are taking this seriously, and it helps get the name of your show out there. There are plenty of inexpensive places to get custom email addresses. Check out the Help Me Help You section for recommended companies.
If I’m pitching my show do I really need a printed One Sheet? Can’t I just email it to them?
Yes you can email it to them, BUT, it is great to have a leave behind after a meeting. You don’t want to get caught empty handed if they ask if they can see the One Sheet. Printing has become less and less expensive so it is great to have something they can have in their hands.