As you go through the process of building your show you will undoubtedly come across people with stupid questions and stupid ideas.
These, my friends, are opportunities – opportunities to practice dealing with Executives who see the vision of your show in a different way.
Let’s say you are writing a cooking show. All your friends know you’re working hard at it and one night at a party a friend introduces you as “the person with that cooking show”, and the person you’ve just met responds with this:
“Oh that’s great. I had an idea for that too. You know what you should do? You should totally have the boom mic catch fire over the stove in one episode. Maybe every episode something goes wrong like that. That would be funny don’cha think? You can use that if you want.”
If you are writing a show and this scenario hasn’t happened yet just wait, it will. Do not view this as merely having to endure a dumb conversation about something you care passionately for. This is an opportunity for you to prepare for meetings with Production Companies and Broadcast Executives. Not because they are stupid. Far from it, but because they may see your show in a different way than you do.
When you are meeting with Executives you will, at times, have to prove why your show works best the way you created it, and if you aren’t really careful how you do that, you risk reacting in an unprofessional way that could end your meeting early.
The first thing to do in this situation is ask questions. “How do you see that turning out? What else could we do that is like that? I wonder if that type of scenario has been done?” ( you already know if that scenario has been done before because you know everything there is to know about cooking shows because you’ve done your research, but no one likes a know-it-all so you can keep that to yourself)
When you’re with the friend at the party you don’t necessarily need to pacify that person but it is good practice to try bring them around to a place of agreement.
I was in a creative meeting with a Production Company that wanted to option one of my shows and the Executive Producer of the company kept coming back to an idea that was just horrible. It was so far off from my show it was ridiculous. But never the less, there I was with a powerful person wanting to inflict my show with a dumb idea.
I asked the questions that I had practiced over and over, but even with that, she kept coming back to it, so, as I had also practiced so many times I finally responded with “Although that is a good idea I’m not sure that works with the flow of the rest of the show. That could certainly be a good show and if you want to make that show we can, but that is not this show.”
I said it nicely and patiently, (again, having practiced this made it a whole lot easier) so it came out in a friendly way.
Taking a stance like that can be risky but I had been through so many “stupid question” scenarios I felt confident in exactly what my show was and that I could communicate it in a non-offensive way. The EP understood and we moved on.
People will want to talk to you about your show, and most people have had ideas for shows but haven’t anything beyond daydreaming about it. Don’t shut them down. Ask what they think. Ask how it turns out.
Be nice. Be polite. Be professional. And seek to learn. These are the people you want watching your show.