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TV Industry/Pitch Bible

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QUESTION: As proof of my poor judgement, I want to pitch a TV drama series as a total outsider. I had started writing a new novel, (two previous novels have been Amazon Best Sellers) and realized that the story was as well suited to a TV Drama (The Tudors / Game of Thrones, for TV14 types) as a novel. It also has the disadvantage, or advantage, of being based on the wars and intrigues of the Egyptian, Babylonian and Persian Empires in the time of the Biblical Book of Daniel - the subject of my Masters' Thesis a few years ago.

I am doing online research on the format for a Pitch Bible, but find that the information is often contradictory. What should go into a pitch bible for a book author with limited screenplay experience? Where / how is the best way of marketing it?

Thanks,
Rick DeMille

ANSWER: Hi Rick.

I certainly appreciate your sense of humor.

First of all, do you have a literary agent?  If not, check with your publisher and make sure you still control the rights to exploit your novels.

There is a specific TV writer I think you would do well to study.  His name is Javier Grillo-Marxuach.  He was one of the executive producers of LOST and has a gazillion other credits.  He's on Twitter at @OKBJGM and has a website at http://okbjgm.tumblr.com/.  He also has a podcast called Children of Tendu that he does with another television writer, Jose Molina.  Javi often posts examples of work he has done and I think you can get a lot of answers that way.  

In truth, every situation is different.  It depends on the writer, the material, the genre, the format, and the audience (network, cable, etc.).  To my way of thinking, you want to get a lot of attention for your books (your publisher would seem to be a source of suggestions for this), then approach agents, producers, or established showrunners (you'll learn more about showrunners after you go through Javi's material) who you think might be a good match. Once you're ready to start targeting submissions, get a trial subscription to the Pro version of IMDB and start researching exactly who you want to target and how to reach them.

I hope this gets you started.  I realize it's not the exact answer you were looking for, but I think this approach will get you on a longer term, but more efficient path.

If you have more questions, please write back.  If you end up communicating with Javi directly, he may forget "Marrissa", but he'll definitely know my twitter name "wackiland".  

Good luck, and I hope to hear about your success!
Marrissa





---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I've started going through Mr. Grillo-Marxuach's online resources, and there is a lot valuable information there. I've already found things I can use. I will certainly send him a "Thank You," and will mention that you told me about his Website and Youtube resources.

I don't have an agent. I've never tried very hard to get one. My first novel got offers from two publishers while I was testing query letters. I picked the one I thought was best (they'd recently had 2 titles on the NY Best Seller List). It was released, Borders Books went out of business owing my publisher a ton of money. My publisher went out of business owing me a little money. I got my rights back after a year and self-published. It's worked out OK.

I will try and get a publisher, and maybe an agent for EXILES AND EMPIRES, when things are ready.

If you don't mind another question, I am painfully aware of my inexperience with TV writing. I've contacted a few people who provide help to the great un-washed like myself for at a reasonable rate, in creating pitch material. I gave him an overview, and he hinted that HE might be willing to option my project and go to his industry contacts for me. Does that sound right? He has a couple of writing and production credits, but nothing big. I'm skeptical, but I also realize that I could use some help.

Thanks again for your suggestions and information. They have already proven very valuable.

Best,
Rick DeMille

Answer
Hi, Rick.

Thanks for the kind words.  Javi is truly generous with his knowledge.

I didn't ask before, but where are you living?  The reason I'm asking is that the scenario you describe seems a little wonky to me.  If the person you were describing had great producing credits, then it might make a little more sense.  If you're in LA or NY, there are lots of resources and writer workshops available.  Unless your material is completely time sensitive, I would invest some time and money into learning more about the business you're trying to get into before making a deal with anyone.

Either way, let me throw a couple more resources at you. Heather Hale (www.heatherhale.com) is a dear friend, and a very talented writer/producer/director and master of networking & resources.  She might be able to recommend the best courses & workshops for someone like you.  I'm also a huge fan of the materials, workshops, and boards at Writers Store (www.writersstore.com).  

Don't worry about asking questions.  I happen to believe the smartest people are never afraid of asking!

Best of luck!
Marrissa  

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Marrissa O`Leary

Expertise

Happy to help with your questions about the business of television. I've been a TV Business Affairs, Talent and Comedy executive for over 10 years after starting out as a child actress. I've been a VP at two studios, and consulted for others. Because we get so many questions about reality shows, please take a look at the "Previously Answered Questions" first (you'll probably find what you need there!). Also - please bear in mind that budgets & license fees are considered to be proprietary information and I can't share them here. Thanks!

Experience

20+ years in entertainment, ranging from child actress to studio vice president.

Education/Credentials
MBA, Pepperdine University / BA, Theatre Arts, Occidental College / AA Mass-Telecommunications Technology, Unites States International University

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