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Mind Your Business: Getting Past the Gate Keepers

Mark Simon talks about his trip to MIPCOM and how to get past Hollywood’s gate keepers.

Mark waiting for a meeting at MIPCOM as he looks over the French Riviera. He has a trick to get past the Hollywood Gate Keepers.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To pitch his TV idea.

What was on the other side of the road? A TV conference.

The secret most creators don’t know is that you can pitch your ideas to network and studio executives at TV conferences around the world.

Have you ever tried calling a studio to pitch your project and were told they don’t accept unsolicited pitches? Of course you have.

Here’s a secret for you. Those gate keepers are not at TV conferences. These conferences give you direct access to the executives you want to meet. You can pitch them face-to-face.

And you know why those execs are at the conferences? Because they want you to have a great show. Really. Their jobs depend on finding the next big hit, and that hit could be yours.

Wait. What’s that? You think conferences are too expensive? Nah. Let’s look at the numbers.

Let’s say you fly to Los Angeles or New York to pitch at the network and studio offices. Unless you’ve got tons of contacts, you will be lucky to get one meeting every few days. When you add up your travel, hotel and meals, the cost per pitch can be around $450. Even if you live in LA, it can be hard to land any pitches.

However, when you go to a conference, it’s easy to get dozens of meetings in a day. I’ve had as many as 35 meetings in one day.

For any conference in the USA or Canada, you can easily get 8-10 meetings in a day. When you add the cost of the conference, travel, hotel and food, the cost per pitch is as low as only $45.

Last month I went to the MIPCOM conference in Cannes, France. It was four fantastic days of meetings and pitches. During that time I had 55 pitches and meetings. 55. Even with the greater expense of the conference and travel to France, my cost per pitch was only $72.

So not only are conferences cheaper, you make tons of new contacts in a short period of time. Where else can you go where everyone you run into is either buying or selling TV shows?

Of course there’s the myth that top execs don’t go to these conferences. Sorry. That myth is bullshit.

I took a number of my clients to MIPCOM. Three of us had the opportunity to pitch our shows back to back to David Madden, the president of Fox TV. I also pitched to the president of Electus (They produce Fashion Star and was founded by the former head of NBC Ben Silverman).

Attending MIPCOM in Cannes, France, Jesse Cole, Kristin Alexandre and Mark Simon.

My client Jesse Cole attended MIPCOM with me. He’s a radiologist in Butte, Montana and had this to say, “You do get the chance to pitch network execs. I was able to pitch my script to on a completely unplanned basis with the president of Fox. It does happen to first timers at these conferences.”

Conferences are where deals are made. If you don’t go, you are only hurting yourself.

There are three great winter conferences coming up in January and February, NATPE, Kidscreen Summit and Realscreen Summit. NATPE is great for any scripted content and is held in Miami from January 28-30, 2013. Realscreen Summit is the biggest conference dedicated to reality, documentary and game shows. It’s held in Washington, D.C. from January 27-30, 2013. Kidscreen Summit is dedicated to all kids’ content, live and animated, for demographics from newborn to 14 years old. It’s in New York from February 5-8, 2013.

My company partners with NATPE and Realscreen. We are able to save you even more money to attend these conferences. Use the code N13Sell until December 13, 2012 and you pay only $500 for the NATPE conference, saving $350. Use the code SYTCN13 until November 11, 2012 and save $375 off the registration rate to attend Realscreen Summit.

So stop listening to the haters who think conferences are a waste of time and money. Pay attention to the executives and creators who make deals and attend conference after conference.


Mark Simon is a producer, author and pitch expert and has attended TV conferences since the mid-1990’s. He’s landed more than 35 deals from going to conferences. His Hit Maker Tour trains and mentors creators to TV conferences. Go to for details.