producer Cable channel/producer for comedy stories

Hello,

I hope you people are ok!

I’d like your inputs and experience on this, please.

I’ve been writing short comedy stories, it’s something I like and also have fun with. I’d like to produce those stories, but I don’t have the resources for that.

So I Ithought that maybe I could send some of my material to a cable channel here in my country. It’s a very small channel but it’s all about comedy stuff. I’ve sent them an email saying that I write comedy stories but since I don’t have the resources to produce them, maybe they would think about it if they read some of my material, if they want to, of course. I didn’t send anything, i was hoping that maybe they could reply, but maybe I’m too naive because they didn’t and they most likely wont, for sure.

I also didn’t send anything because I was afraid that they could just ignore me and do something without my consent, but I guess it’s a risk I’d have to take and I know this is a very, very difficult business.

Do you guys think I should just send another email with the material? Or maybe even go there by myself?

Thank you all for your time
 
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If you want the cable channel to consider producing your material, you have to send them something for them to gauge the quality of your work.

That said, in the US, many companies will not accept unsolicited material (it's a liability for them). You have to submit through an agent. If a producer does accept unsolicited material it must be accompanied by a release or they will not read it.

I'm assuming you are in Portugal from your profile. I don't know how things are in Portugal, but you might want to submit to an agent first and if the agency takes you on as a client, work with them to get your material to the cable channel. If you want to go direct to to the cable channel, you need to find out if they accept unsolicited material and if they do, you need to get a copy of whatever release form they use.

My limited experience in Europe is that the film industry is very tight and people only work with those they know or know as insiders. How you get "in" is the old catch 22.
 
Thanks a lot for your reply.

Sorry for my ignorance, but what is really a release? Is it a document or something related to legal stuff?

So do you think it's a bad ideia to just send them another email with PDF with some of my material without knowing for sure if they accept unsolicited material? I really don't know how things really work here, because I just write and I'm a complete ignorant about how the business work, but I guess it's not much different from other countries. Certainly it works identical to what you've just said.

But where should I be looking for an agent? Sorry for these novice questions

Thanks once again!
 
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Yes, a release is a legal document. Basically it states that you (or you and your partners) are the authors of the material, that you have the authority to submit the material, that you will hold the production company harmless, that you understand the production company may not produce your material, etc.

I would try to write or call the cable channel and find out if they accept unsolicited scripts. If they do, you can ask if they have a standard release and then get a copy of it. If someone does respond to you... get that person's name and make them your friend :) You can imagine the number of requests even a small cable channel must receive from people that want to work there. So, my advice is be persistent and very polite in your persistence. You may get through that way, but again, I have no idea what the market is like in your country. It's very possible you will never hear from anyone.

I would google screenplay or literary agents in your country. Send introductory letters to as many as you can. Again, without some follow up and persistence, it's unlikely you'll ever hear back from any of them, but persistence is key. I've had this discussion with many filmmakers here in the US and most agree that persistence is the key attribute you must have to make it in this business. You definitely need talent and it helps to have connections, but persistence to my mind is the key separator between those that work and those that dream about working.

One last thing, I am an American and I don't know your country, so take my next advice with that in mind. While I am American, my father is Italian and he worked for many years as a photojournalist all across Europe. My impression of Europe is that it is much more of a "who you know" culture than the US (it does work that way in the US, but I think it's a little less important). As well as looking for an agent, you should try to discover if you have any connections to people that work in the business. It may not be a direct connection, but somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody. Work those connections and ingratiate yourself. My bet is you stand a much better chance of getting your stuff read if you have a letter of introduction from somebody that matters.

In all of this, I am assuming you have material that someone would want to produce. As well as persistence in finding work, you should have persistence in developing your talent. Keep working on your writing, even if no one is reading it right now.
 
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in the US, many companies will not accept unsolicited material (it's a liability for them).
Well, it may be a liability in that they don't see much in the way of unique material, but just imagine how many scripts they would receive. I'm not a writer, but it is my understanding that the "Hollywood" studios and production companies receive over 100,000 solicited scripts each year, and not even 10% are even passed along for consideration, and barely 1% get onto development much less a green light. They hardly have the time to read all of the scripts sent to them by reliable sources, much less the hundreds of thousands of scripts that newbs and wannabees would submit. There needs to be a vetting process of some kind or the system would be absolutely overwhelmed, although I would most certainly agree that those who vet new material probably play it very safe most of the time.
 
Good point. It may be a way to keep the numbers down as well. That said, it is hard to find really good scripts and producers need to keep their options open.

I started my career working for an indie producer and read a good number of scripts while working for him. I can tell you that a large percentage were unreadable. They were poorly written and incoherent. Then, of the few that I could actually make it through reading, there was often no movie. There might be an interesting character or cool scene, but no two-hour -- nor 90-minute -- movie.

This is probably a topic for another thread and I have touched on this in previous threads, but I am slowly coming around to thinking talent and skill reside in only a handful of humans. I'm thinking of filmmaking in general, but also in writing specifically. Even as more and more people attempt to make filmmaking a career, only a limited number will ever be paid to do it.

The point being... producers are really hungry to find that great script even among the thousands and thousands of submissions. It's rare when you find one. So, they do need to do a lot of mining to find that one gem. It's tedious, but if you're a good producer, you know it's part of the job. The other way is to work with people whose talent has already been established. Very hard to do if you yourself are not already established.
 
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Yes, a release is a legal document. Basically it states that you (or you and your partners) are the authors of the material, that you have the authority to submit the material, that you will hold the production company harmless, that you understand the production company may not produce your material, etc.

I would try to write or call the cable channel and find out if they accept unsolicited scripts. If they do, you can ask if they have a standard release and then get a copy of it. If someone does respond to you... get that person's name and make them your friend :) You can imagine the number of requests even a small cable channel must receive from people that want to work there. So, my advice is be persistent and very polite in your persistence. You may get through that way, but again, I have no idea what the market is like in your country. It's very possible you will never hear from anyone.

I would google screenplay or literary agents in your country. Send introductory letters to as many as you can. Again, without some follow up and persistence, it's unlikely you'll ever hear back from any of them, but persistence is key. I've had this discussion with many filmmakers here in the US and most agree that persistence is the key attribute you must have to make it in this business. You definitely need talent and it helps to have connections, but persistence to my mind is the key separator between those that work and those that dream about working.

One last thing, I am an American and I don't know your country, so take my next advice with that in mind. While I am American, my father is Italian and he worked for many years as a photojournalist all across Europe. My impression of Europe is that it is much more of a "who you know" culture than the US (it does work that way in the US, but I think it's a little less important). As well as looking for an agent, you should try to discover if you have any connections to people that work in the business. It may not be a direct connection, but somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody. Work those connections and ingratiate yourself. My bet is you stand a much better chance of getting your stuff read if you have a letter of introduction from somebody that matters.

In all of this, I am assuming you have material that someone would want to produce. As well as persistence in finding work, you should have persistence in developing your talent. Keep working on your writing, even if no one is reading it right now.
Thanks for your time and advice! I had no idea that things worked li

As far as agents or managers go, I know that that it's very common in US, but as far as I know, that's not really a "thing" here, so that would be very difficult to arrange because it's unusual. It's more just like you said : "who you know".

Regarding that channel, it happens that I know two guys that are or were related to it. One of them I think it did or does some stand up there and maybe other stuff and I've also noticed that he is a "facebook friend" with someone that works in the creative department. I don't know but maybe he has some connections there.

The other guy worked there as an assistant I guess.

The thing is, I barely talk to them and if I did that, wouldn't it sound like I'm a selfish prick that is only talking to them to do me a favour? And I'm clearly not that type of person, but maybe I should really go to them in a facebook private conversation? Maybe if I send some of my material? Would you go to them?

I know my material it's not the best stuff out there (far from it), but I know that my short stories are much better than some stuff I see on the channel. Yes of course, I ty to write everyday!

Thanks once again!
 
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Well, knowing two people that work there is a great start. I understand it can be awkward to approach people you don't know well to ask for help, but given everything you've said, that would be the best approach in my opinion.

Now, it's a matter of personal style. Personally, I favor the straight-forward approach and if it were me, I would reach out to one (or both) of the people you know and tell them you are an aspiring writer and have material you'd like to show and ask their advice on the best way to approach someone to show them your material. Your personal style may vary :)

Good luck to you!
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
As far as agents or managers go, I know that that it's very common in US, but as far as I know, that's not really a "thing" here, so that would be very difficult to arrange because it's unusual. It's more just like you said : "who you know".
Here in the states "who-you-know" is far better than an agent, too.
The thing is, I barely talk to them and if I did that, wouldn't it sound like I'm a selfish prick that is only talking to them to do me a favour? And I'm clearly not that type of person, but maybe I should really go to them in a facebook private conversation? Maybe if I send some of my material? Would you go to them?
One method to try when it comes to Facebook friends is to contact them
and ask for advice. Most people like giving out advice. Don't pitch your
material just ask his advice on how to get a pitch meeting.

I don't have much to add to this. IvonV is offering great advice.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Here in the states "who-you-know" is far better than an agent, too.

One method to try when it comes to Facebook friends is to contact them
and ask for advice. Most people like giving out advice. Don't pitch your
material just ask his advice on how to get a pitch meeting.

I don't have much to add to this. IvonV is offering great advice.
What I would add to this is read the book "How to win friends and influence people"

The advice in that book is a hundred years old and its really some timeless gold.
I have basically copied and spewed up the words from that book and gotten a $2000+ repair on my transmission for free.

its very informative about how to talk to people and most if it is about THEM not you.
 
Thank you guys.

I'll definitely reach at least one of them in facebook and ask for advice. But I've decided that I'll just do it when I finish my spec TV pilot and have it ready. I want to have something more than just short stories to show.
 
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I am slowly coming around to thinking talent and skill reside in only a handful of humans.
Actually, talent and skill are there quite a bit more than you would think. It's the other elements that are missing. Talent and skill are never enough; you must also be disciplined, hardworking, dogged and, the rarest skill of all, being able to tell the difference between malicious or amateur criticism and constructive criticism.
 
Actually, talent and skill are there quite a bit more than you would think. It's the other elements that are missing. Talent and skill are never enough; you must also be disciplined, hardworking, dogged
I'm not sure I can agree or not on talent and skill (and it is the combination I'm talking about), but definitely agree with you that having these other skills is important to a film career. Doggedness or what I call persistence is certainly one of the most important from what I've observed. And to be clear, even though I used the word handful, I am thinking in terms of thousands of directors, writers, actors... and audio artists :) However, I see the marketplace flooded with aspiring filmmakers (hundreds of thousands) who don't seem to understand that their stuff is mediocre because they haven't the talent or the skill to make things people want to pay for. I'm not being condescending, I consider myself to be among them at this point in my career.

and, the rarest skill of all, being able to tell the difference between malicious or amateur criticism and constructive criticism.
I don't think I totally understand this part of your comment. Are you saying that many filmmakers don't make it in the business because they are unable to distinguish malicious vs. constructive criticism? How does that work? Why do you believe this is the rarest of skills?
 
There are those who criticize just to tear something apart. There are those who mean well but aren't as knowledgeable/skillful as they believe themselves to be. And then there are those with knowledge, experience and empathy.

When you're starting out it's sometimes tough to tell good advice from bad advice. Being able to tell the difference early in your career saves you a lot stress.
 
Seems to me that what you want to do is not unlike a lot of newbie screenwriters here in the states wanting to get someone to read their material. I've read a ton of query letters as well as email queries throughout the years from people wondering why nobody ever replied back to them... LOL. The truth of the matter is that these queries are just terrible. They drone on and display ego but can't be qualified.

Everyone I know in this business is BUSY. Even in other countries. Nobody wants to go through emails that take more than a minute. If it were me? I would specifically nail down WHO you want to query and then create a specific email JUST FOR THEM. With the Internet? It's just way too easy to learn about someone. I once pitched a producer... Well known, in fact. Took me days to research him. One of the things I found out about him was that he was involved (business-wise) in a completely different endeavor than entertainment. Luckily? I know a little bit about this endeavor because I've also been involved with it in the past.

On the day I pitched him? At one point during small talk, I just happened to mention this endeavor without letting him know I already knew he was involved... It was just intel I'd picked up along the way. As soon as I mentioned it? He perked right up and most of my pitching session with him ended as us just talking about this endeavor. LOL. Which was fine. I'd made a powerful friend in the industry.

Now, long after this occurred, he sends me scripts he's considering making to read. He throws the occasional writing gig my way. Point being? Do your research when it comes to whomever you want to pitch. You don't necessarily have to use all the intel but you NEVER KNOW when this intel could help you when it comes to the pitch. It's just nice to have in your arsenal of tools.

Anyway... I've found brief emails always work best. Use a subject line that involves a PATTERN INTERRUPT. A good, strong, pattern interrupt gets emails OPENED UP and read.

From there? Make your pitch but understand your pitch also needs to be short and sweet. Do NOT sell the farm. Do not oversell what you want to pitch to them. Do not over describe. KEEP THEM WANTING MORE. In other words, do the work to nail that pitch down with a simple, brief paragraph that gives them just enough information to MAKE THEM WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT.

If, through your research, you found some intel that you can easily segue into without getting into any LENGTHY conversation/discussion? Throw it in there too and finish off the query email by letting them know you are only too happy to sign a release for THEIR protection.

Keep it short, brief, and to the point. Somehow TAYLOR it to the person you're sending it to.
 
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