Post #2: Groomed by an Industry Professional to Pitch Sweet Glory to “Hollywood”
Sweet Glory’s Grand-Prize Win in the TVMe! Contest included for me to be groomed by an industry professional to pitch Sweet Glory to “Hollywood.”I got the very best in the business: Stephanie Palmer! I’ll round out her introduction in my next post & interview of her. Her credentials are impressive—it’s no wonder the Hollywood Reporter named her one of the “Top 35 Executives Under 35.” Here, I’ll briefly say about her:
As the former MGM Director of Creative Affairs, Stephanie heard more than 3000 pitches from the best pitchers in the business. As such, she discovered a formula for success in teaching creative people how to pitch, persuade, and sell their products, services or ideas.Before I talk about my consultation with Stephanie, the storyteller in me is compelled to first show you—WHAT A SMALL WORLD IT IS…
Fortuitously, I stumbled upon Stephanie right after I entered Sweet Glory in the TVMe! Contest. Given the nature of her background, of course I was going to check out her blog (http://goodinaroom.com/blog) to glean any morsel about the TV/film industry that might be helpful to me…just in case I were to win the contest. Boy, was I glad I did! I learned some amazing secrets for pitching Sweet Glory to “Hollywood” that would later supplement her grooming of me.Sorry…I veered off track a little in my excitement to tell you about Stephanie’s blog.
Fast-forward to the night of the press release and awards reception. In my excitement, I failed to notice that Stephanie’s Good In A Room logo was portrayed amongst the sponsors of the contest. It only struck me that I had subconsciously seen her logo after I returned home and I read the press release that the Film Commissioner of Sarasota County sent me. Imagine my shock and delight when in it I learned that Stephanie Palmer would be grooming me to pitch Sweet Glory to “Hollywood.” And…the rest is history!On to my work with Stephanie: If I were forced to describe it in one way, I would say that at the heart of her strategy is CONFIDENCE BUILDING—by knowing your project and its market and competition well.
First, the FOUNDATION of my confidence was set in the very first exercise Stephanie had me do: To declare a specific career goal. Of course, mine was:
To Write Young Adult Historical Novels
NOTE: Excluded in my goal is “pitching my novels for TV/film” and writing for other genres or age groups. As Stephanie espouses: The writers who get the cherry assignments, lucrative studio rewrite opportunities, and big paydays have this in common: they are experts in a specific area. This is nothing new to us writers—agents and editors prefer their authors to be well established in a genre and readership before they will usually consider their diversifications.
Second, the WALLS of my confidence were built up when Stephanie guided me to the places where I could learn all about the TV/film industry so that I could competently converse with a scout, producer, or other industry professional. Besides other points that make Sweet Glory a contemporary hot topic (which I’ll divulge in my post on “Writing a Successful Pitch”), the most significant morsel that I stumbled upon and that I used in my pitch meetings was:
There has been a tremendous resurgence in popularity of TV movies and miniseries, thanks especially to historical hits, such as the History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys (most watched in 2012) and The Bible (2013, most watched ever) and PBS’s Downton Abbey (2011, which by the third series had become one of the most widely watched TV shows in the world).In this same stage, I further built my expertise by studying all-time and more recent historical hits in books, TV/film, and books adapted to TV/film. This further bolstered my confidence when I realized that Sweet Glory was not only similar to other very successful projects but that it was original enough to stand on its own. Stephanie had warned me to hear that my project was going to be a hard sell because: 1. Most viewers prefer historical works that revolve around a central figure, such as Abraham Lincoln or Mary Surratt (Lincoln conspirator). But...I was prepared to name several contemporary works, such as HBO’s Iron Jawed Angels, that broke the mold. 2. The budget would be costly. But...Iwas prepared to ask if Sweet Glory’s budget would pale in comparison to the likes of Cinemax’s Game of Thrones, which in one episode portrayed sweeping battle scenes on both land and sea.
Third, the ROOF of my confidence was laid when Stephanie prepared me to answer some common and trick questions that would be tossed my way.Lastly, my PREPARATION finished with my organizing my research and writing out answers to each exercise and common and trick questions. And then I memorized it all until I could recite it in my sleep—also part of Stephanie’s strategy.
Directly after my meetings, I found myself admiring my calmness and quickness of wit in pitching Sweet Glory. But when I got the chance to reflect upon this during my train trip home from NYC, I realized these actions on my behalf weren’t all that impressive—because I was prepared! All thanks to Stephanie’s guidance. Without her, I'd be lost somewhere in the maze of Hollywood.Please drop by next month for my interview with Stephanie Palmer. She’s a lovely, lovely person, not to mention brilliant, and she would love to chat with you!