In Part 1 I explained how I pitched one series with $13,000 worth of artwork and another with two sentences on the fly, and I sold the two sentences.
Why did Peter Roth buy my two-sentence pitch? What was it about the concept? What made it so good?
Quite frankly, I don't know. Which means there was a good deal of luck involved.
Peter just happened to be looking for a high-concept-live-action-one-hour-cop-show and that's just what I happened to pitch him. But I’m sure he’d heard dozens of cop pitches and didn’t buy any of them. What made mine better?
I don’t know the answer to that either. More luck, perhaps.
Unfortunately, luck cannot be studied, understood, practiced or applied. It is, by definition, what happens when one does not know what they are doing.
Hall of Fame golfer, Gary Player, often says, “The more I practice the luckier I get.” There is a lot of truth in that statement.
Writers can not only practice their writing skills, they can practice their research skills. Both will increase their “luck”.
I was lucky that Peter bought my series. But if I had asked him beforehand what he was looking for I might have learned a lot. Probably enough to have not pitched him the first concept that he passed on, and spent more time on the one that he bought.
But you can’t always ask the buyer what they want. Often you just get a meeting and the pitch is the first time you get a chance to speak with them. Regardless, it helps to learn whatever you can about what your buyer is looking for, or not looking for. You can find out their production lineup or what their audience is watching. Find out what they’ve bought, what did well and what didn’t. The more you know the more prepared you will be to pitch, and the better chance you’ll have of being “lucky”.
Why maybe? Because research is not the only way to develop a good concept and sell your pitch. There is also the THIS-IS-WHAT-I’VE-CREATED-TAKE-IT-OR-LEAVE-IT method. No research. No focus groups. Just pure imagination. And if it sells, you might call it pure luck.
So what makes a great concept?
A great concept is one that sells!
Moral of the story: There is no perfect pitch and no perfect concept. So just choose a method—research or flying by the seat of your squarepants—create the best damned series (or film) concept you can, pitch it with passion—and pray.
That’s what I do.
©Jeffrey Scott, All Rights Reserved