Though I have many flaws, making excuses for not pitching isn’t one of them. I pitch my ass off and I think that anyone who wants to be a show creator, an author, a playwright or a filmmaker should do the same. But most do not. Especially the very talented ones. Why? With great talent comes great feeling and with great feeling comes great vulnerability. (No big secret there.) And the more fragile a person is, the more likely they are to protect themselves from all the unfortunate things that come along with pitching (i.e. anxiety, rejection, and pain.) And, so, they make excuses for not pitching, they don’t pitch, and they feel, briefly, as safe as a boat in a harbor.
Over the course of my career, I’ve listened to a wide variety of talented writers, designers, musicians and producers make excuses for not pitching shows. I’ve noticed that their excuses usually fall into five categories and I’ve listed them here because I believe that the first step to getting past your demons is to look them in the eyes.
1. I get nervous. Broadcasters understand that everyone gets nervous when they pitch. They also know that many creative people have limited social skills and, so, most TV buyers are quite gentle and kind. They will offer you a bottle of water or coffee when you arrive and they will make small talk about the weather to help put you at ease. Always remember that they’re hoping your pitch will be good and they want nothing more than to have you do your best.
2. I’m worried that a broadcaster will steal my idea. This is the most narcissistic of all excuses. It presumes that your idea is so good and so valuable that a major network would rather break the law and steal it from you rather than pay you a few bucks to develop it. Trust me, no one wants to rip you off. If a buyer likes your pitch, they have money set aside to pay you for it. If they don’t like your pitch, they’ll pass. I honestly can’t think of one example of a broadcaster stealing someone’s idea. After all, this is kids TV, not the toy business.
3. I don’t know who to pitch to. If you read Kidscreen Magazine–which is where you’re reading this blog–then you know they publish a free, annual Global Pitch Guide that lists (ad nauseum) every broadcaster from the US to Asia that buys shows, what they are looking for, and how to contact them if you have a show you would like to pitch. Saying you don’t know who to pitch to is like saying you don’t know where to find the Toblerone at the airport.
4. I don’t have the time. What can I say, this one is just bullsh*it. I know folks who have found time to have kids, learn Mandarin, study Kundalini Yoga and open a wine bar but still say, in all sincerity, that the only thing keeping them from pitching their show is they don’t have the time. It takes two months to put together a pitch bible and the meetings themselves last around a half-an-hour each. If you really want to pitch, you’ll make time.
5. What if they say yes? A lot of people worry that if they pitch a show, and someone wants their show, that they won’t be able to make it because they are not connected to a production company. Stop worrying. If a broadcaster likes your show, they will help you find a way to produce it. Most networks do extensive “match-making” between show creators and production companies. Some of the networks even produce their series in-house and prefer that a creator come to them unencumbered by a production company.
So, there you have it, my top five. Of course all these excuses are understandable and forgivable but none should stop you from pitching and, ultimately, making the work that you were born to make. Excuses are like dragons that were put outside all of our gates to protect us and then somehow wound up keeping us prisoner. Go and slay them.