About 18 years ago I approached a broadcast network concerning one of my diverse number of projects.
At that time I was told they only accepted programmes that were already established as being successful and were not interested in anything new.
I advised them that is what was said about famous groups such as the Beatles. Who knows, the project I pitched to them (though they said they liked it) may be a greater money-spinner if the public liked it.
I thought I would try the same thing recently with that project which was shelved and to the same broadcasters just to see if they had a new take. The project was evergreen so this was a valid test.
Unbelievably, I got an almost identical reply despite the fact they had no knowledge of the previous submission.
How do film makers get a break with the above catch-22 scenario?
A famous comedian replied to a letter I wrote to him years ago saying even he had problems with the same broadcaster not accepting his work. He was already successful with them and other networks. His fame and talent were both very high profile. I was astounded by his letter, but he wrote to encourage me never to stop trying and to keep pitching to broadcasters. It was so kind of him and gave me optimism so I did carry on approaching various contacts. Some were successful as to my aims for projects, some were not.
There is one network in particular which has the alleged reputation as ‘rip off’ people by hearsay and I had one experience myself with them also that inferred something similar.
I am sure it is easier and cheaper in the end to sign up the originator of an idea but then again, they say those who steal creative ideas get a thrill out of getting away with it, as even if Intellectual Property theft does occur then one would require two things – concrete proof and then be as wealthy as the Network to take legal action against them, even though IP theft is a Criminal/arrestable matter. Everything is civil these days.
How does one pitch a project without risking others copying material or concepts and re-writing their own outline sufficient to disguise another writer’s original work?
I think there should be a Network devoted to promising one broadcast of submissions by unknowns – even if there was no payment for the debut airing. Let the public decide. No restrictions as to when a film was produced or by whom, as long as it is of good quality, to be taken in order of receipt and broadcast up to about 11pm as beyond that few people would be watching.
No rules if it had been shown in exhibitions or competitions, etc, as long as never broadcast in full on TV anywhere.
There is a similar ridiculous restriction for the written word. Certain radio shows will only feature esoteric works promoted by top agents then they refer to short lists – whose short list?
Once again over many decades various publications and TV/radio may launch a competition for writers but state it must be written after one date but before another, word count required varies and stories must never have been submitted elsewhere in any other competition or contingency.
Come on, broadcasters and publishers (and Agents), you can all do better than that.
This is 2016 yet I still hear the same old stories from various friends and colleagues whom I consider to be talented writers across diverse genres. So much so that broadcasters would be lucky to sign them up, not the other way around.
Should my own ‘shelved’ project in one genre become successful I will ensure a particular broadcaster will never be given permission to use it on their network.
Thankfully, my own projects are varied and at different stages and what will be, will be.
For writers new to the Acquisition and Commissioning Departments, magazine publishers, Literary Publishers who mostly only look at work submitted via an Agent (double hurdle there), in 2016, is it still really a case of ‘who one knows’ as I have read and seen scripts and films of so many colleagues which I would jump to sign up, am left wondering why you do not.
The worst story I ever heard related to an amazing short film and the Producers told me if they found a network who guaranteed to broadcast the same and commission a series, that they had a backer willing to pay £X millions to cover the cost of a series. They still could not place the film. It was so wonderful I have never forgotten it, nor the despair on the faces of the young men who had produced the same.
What about an X factor style free broadcast for all film lengths and film genres or formats in respect of new films – one after the other?
It would work – as to get the same statements being churned out decade after decade makes me wonder how some Acquisition and Commissioning Officers get their jobs.
Let a piece of creative work stand or fall on its own merits. Writers deserve better than such trite, inept responses to their work.
Whoever runs with the concept I have suggested they could also have a hit on their hands by the concept alone, never mind the content.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine