Pitching for the International TV Market

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So many film-makers I know live and work around the world.  So how do you pitch yourself and your projects to this brave new global market?  I have spent the last five years between London and New York, producing and directing for US and UK television.  I recently gave a talk on how to pitch beyond the UK  for the BBC and Creative Skillset  – here’s what I came up with:

1)   Get Moving. Go to international TV festivals to meet TV Execs from around the world – MIPCOM and MIPTV are well-established markets; for factual try Realscreen and Realscreen West in the US and Sheffield in the UK.  NYTVFest can put you in a room with networks like Fox to pitch your comedy pilots directly.

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2)   Get Online.  There are many online briefings available   – Radarscreen offers global factual briefs and commissions; Cynopsis is great for US TV news;  our own TVMole serves up excellent UK and international commissioning news, not forgetting Broadcast which covers not only the UK but the latest  international deals too.

3)   Partner Up. You can find a UK Indie that has a presence in the country you are targeting, or contact the Indie Unit at BBC Worldwide for advice on where to pitch your projects and who to contact, which can act as your sales and distribution company.  Or use your agent or approach foreign channels directly through your own company if you prefer.

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4)   Watch their Shows.  Sounds obvious but if you want to make shows for a foreign audience, you need to key into what already works there, it’s a different country, a different culture with different audience expectations.  Ignore this at your peril… because

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5)   Style matters. Identify the many differences in format for the country you’re pitching to compared to say the UK version of the same show and adopt this style in your pitch, written treatments and teaser reels.

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6)   Speak their Language – Each country has it’s own particular business culture, which you need to learn and operate within. The best way is through living and working there, but you can also ask advice from colleagues who’ve been there and learn from their experience.

7)   Treat Co-producers with Respect. A commission from another country is not just gap-financing, they are buying a say in the final product and if you have more than one country in play, you need to balance the needs of all of them with your own taste as a writer/director or producer.

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8)   Be your own Brand. Be you – internationally. Your programme ideas are could be universal in their appeal if you think outside country lines and reach out to the audience you identify with most – wherever that may be in the world.

Good luck! And see you Up in the Air….

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You can leave a comment here or contact me @emlin32 on Twitter…

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Runaway Bride – Finding the truth behind your story

1528299-a-child-is-walking-all-alone-in-the-desertWhat are you running away from in your script?

We all create diversions to escape ourselves.  How far would you go to avoid the pain you have to inhabit to complete your story?

This is where I am at as I approach the third act of my feature script again. It’s where the shit hits the fan emotionally for the characters – and for you.  Where you work out why you’re writing this thing that’s taking all your waking hours.

The first thirty pages are a sprint, an idyll, the lure that gets you thinking, ‘I know this baby, I can crack this story, I even know how it ends.’

The second act is harder, but the winding roads of plot and character revelation make it bearable, even though it stretches into infinity.

But the last act, the ending, the pay off for you and the audience is where you have to face the truth of what you are writing.  And so we do anything not to go there.  In our own lives as well as in the story.

Many pleasures can distract you from grief.  But if grief drives your screenplay, then it is grief you must enter to find redemption.  A story is a confession, an admission of weakness, a seeking of grace.  The most common narrative structure is the redemption story because we all need and deserve forgiveness.

So in facing our demons and, with them, the truth in our work, we raise ourselves above them and the distractions we employ, to find our own happy ending.

Share your own thoughts here or find me on Twitter @emlin32 . Good luck and may honesty be your best friend as a writer.