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Mind Your Business: Pitch Trip

Mark Simon takes a pitch trip to Los Angeles, and shares his travels and trials.


Mark Simon on his way to LA to pitch his animations.

The pitch. For the newcomer, it can be nerve-wracking. For me, it’s fun. I love sharing my ideas and stories. Executives are simply another pair of ears to listen to my stories. (well, that and they have the ability to actually buy something, which makes them a really special pair of ears)

As I’ve said before, the easiest way to pitch to a lot of studios and networks is to go to a film or TV conference and meet everyone in one place at one time. It’s kind of like one long happy hour. But there are times when I want to pitch a concept and there no big conferences on the horizon.

This past April was one of those times. I had a last minute trip to LA come up and I wanted to pitch two projects, an animated TV series, Luke & Reece Save the World, and an animated feature, Dream Factory, while I was there. The problem with last minute pitch trips, is having enough time to set up pitch meetings.

Dream Factory Copyright A&S Animation, Inc 2012. All Rights Reserved.

I was in production, so I had very little time to make all the phone calls to set up meetings. In just a couple of days, I was able to set up 7 pitch meetings along with a number of general meetings for the two and a half days I would be in LA.

I called a bunch of network and studio execs that I knew to see who had time to meet with me. I always try to keep in touch with my contacts so I can get ahold of them for these last minute meetings. With the exception of the ones who throw their moldy trash at me, it works pretty well.

At first it was frustrating. A few were out of town. How dare they? Didn’t they know I was coming? Yeah? They didn’t care? Crap.

At least I was able to land more than one meeting a day. I set up meetings at Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., SD Entertainment, Dreamworks and others. The biggest problem is dealing with traffic as you drive between meetings.

I was at NAB in Vegas and was still organizing the timing of my meetings. I had everything set and time between my meetings was perfect, regardless of traffic. And then… Dreamworks changed the meeting time. And then changed it again. Obviously I accommodated the changes, but it kept leaving me less and less time for my Rubicon meeting and I was sweating the drive across the valley to get to DreamWorks on time. You’ll see in the videos how traffic doesn’t always work with you in LA.

I rented a car in Vegas and drove to LA on a Wednesday to have my first lunch meeting with Tom Gammill, a writer/producer on Simpsons, Napoleon Dynamite animated series and other shows.

For those of you are already tired of reading this article, I’ve made it easy for you. I edited together a video travelogue of each day of my pitches. You can ride along with me to my meetings and see how it goes.

For those of you who want to read on… Awww. Who am I kidding. No one wants to read when you can watch TV. So here you go, spend a brief 3 days with my on my pitch trip between pitch meetings, industry events, visiting studios and walking backlots.

Day 1 I drove from Vegas to LA for a lunch meeting with Tom Gammill, fellow NCS (National Cartoonist Society) member. Then on to the Chiodo Bros. stop-motion studio, my office when I’m in town (thanks guys!). I ended the day with one of my story artists, Aidan Casserly, at an event in Beverly Hills at the Paley Center.

Hollywood Pitch Trip – Day 1

Day 2 was full of meetings starting with an 8am breakfast meeting with Marge Dean of Wild Brain! Animation. Then on to a meeting at Rubicon, a lunch meeting at DreamWorks and meeting at Marc Zicree’s SuperMentors writers group. I ended the day at a WildBrain! party for Marge Dean.

Hollywood Pitch Trip – Day 2

My third pitch day in LA is the biggest. The day started with a meeting at SD Entertainment, then on to a lunch meeting on the Warner Bros. lot with Alex Zamm. I worked with Alex on his movie Tooth Fairy 2 and on Hong Kong Phooey. You don’t want to miss the surprise pitch I gave at Disney XD. I ended the day with a 5:30 meeting at Nickelodeon and give you a sneak peak behind their gates.

I’m in the middle of my follow-ups from all the meetings now. I’ll post how it all goes as I know.

Keep on pitchin’!

Mark Simon, is the co-founder of and the owner of A&S Animation, Inc. and the animation producer for Tooth Fairy 2. He recently landed a deal for the Baldo animated series, based on the hit comic strip of the same name, and signed a distribution deal for three of his own series with Fun Little Movies.