Newsletter 12 – July 2012
Client Paul Jacobson, M.D., aka “Dr. J,” had an awesome experience at last month’s PitchCon in Los Angeles, including an unexpected deal offer to be the new voice of LaughMD TV, which is syndicated to hospitals and doctor offices around the country. This goes to show you never know who you can meet or what can happen when you take one of our Hit Maker Tours (this one was mentored by our good friend and Deadliest Catch producer, Doug Stanley). This Tour worked so well, we’ve got another one coming up soon for animation at the Television Animation Conference (TAC) in Ottawa in September. Catch the details in our Upcoming Events section.
Dr. J also has great expectations for the half-hour scripted comedy show based on his wild life experiences called Sparx, which we are preparing a treatment, 1-sheet and script. Dr. J has been so thrilled with his experience he sent us this glowing tribute, which was the perfect prescription to make us smile.
“No self-respecting neurosurgeon would ever consider performing brain surgery without first completing a top notch residency training program. Such is the case when pitching your TV show ideas at the National Association of Television Programming Executives PitchCon. SELL YOUR TV CONCEPT NOW and the Hit Makers Tour is the Harvard residency program of the TV concept pitching arena. They will guide you, prepare you, and position you for a successful patient outcome with a minimum of blood loss. As a result I was able to distill my presentation to a brief, passionate, persuasively impactful pitch after practicing and refining the pitch with the onsite mentor. I found myself enmeshed with several follow up meetings during, and after the event and now negotiating a MEGATHON deal of a lifetime.”
Paul “Dr. J” Jacobson, M.D.
The new voice of LaughMD TV
IN PRODUCTION with MARK & JEANNE
Mark’s recent travels have produced a bounty of hot projects.
His pitch trip to L.A. has landed him a meeting with an executive from DisneyXD to discuss turning his animation feature idea Dream Factory into a potential television series.
And his speaking engagement at the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Awards in Las Vegas not only had him hobnobbing with some of his all-time favorite comic strip artists, but talking about a producing a potential series with none other than Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, and overseer of Paws, Inc., the biggest comic strip and merchandising licensing empire imaginable.
Wayne is busy writing the treatment for a one-hour serial drama television series based on the lives of a wide range of characters inhabiting Dayton, Ohio, in 1917 at the dawn of the United States entrance into World War I. There’s a definite Downton Abbey feel to the love triangles within this multi-character epic, which is adapted from the graphic novel Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl by author Kristin Alexandre.
Pitch Your Animated TV Show in September
North America’s biggest Television Animation Conference (TAC) is coming September 19 & 20 in Ottawa, Canada.More than 300 buyers, as well as financiers, potential partners and industry masters!
Mark and Jeanne Simon will be providing pre-conference training, on-site mentoring and coaching, and follow-up training in our exclusive TAC Hit Maker Tour with Mark Simon, the walking animation database.
Spots are limited, and early bird rates apply only until July 15.
Early bird rate: $1,250. (Until July 15)
Full tour rate: $1,750 (Starting Aug ust 1)
That’s a $500 savings!
So, if you plan to go, plan early. And pay early to save big.
Travel, hotel and conference registration fees are n ot included in our Tour, but you can go to the official TAC site here to register (at the Box Office) and get more local information:
“TAC brings together key players in North America and international markets and provides a forum for active networking, practical information exchange, and trade in a comfortable and intimate environment.”
TAC offers two specialized programs dedicated to pitching: Pitch THIS! and Fast Track
“Pitch THIS! gives two selected producers the opportunity to steal everybody’s attention by revealing their new project to everyone in the TAC audience, which includes o ver 300 potential buyers, financiers, partners and industry masters.”
“Fast Track gives you the opportunity to meet privately with all your targets in one shot. Whether you plan to pitch a project, gain insight into what executives are looking for, find a suitable production company for your story idea, or simply establish important relations.”
Accomplished animator, producer, director and voice actor Butch Hartman will be giving a keynote address at TAC. Hartman is best known as the creator and executive producer of three successful animated series featured on Nickelodeon; Fairly Odd Parents, Danny Phantom, and T.U.F.F. Puppy.
4 Reasons to go to TAC:
- Pitch and sell your TV animation project
- Meet the players in the TV animation industry
- Find partners or finance opportunities in TV animation
- Canada is beautiful in September
- For more information on this and our upcoming Hit Maker Tour to MIPCOM, go to: http://www.sellyourtvconceptnow.com/hit-maker-tour-pitch-network-execs-face-to-face/
MIND YOUR BUSINESS
Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s recent article on the Animation World Network website.
Mark Simon takes a pitch trip to Los Angeles, and shares his travels and trials.
Mark Simon on his way to LA to pitch his animations.The pitch. For the newcomer, it can be nerve-wracking. For me, it’s fun. I love sharing my ideas and stories. Executives are simply another pair of ears to listen to my stories (well, that and they have the ability to actually buy something, which makes them a really special pair of ears.)
As I’ve said before, the easiest way to pitch to a lot of studios and networks is to go to a film or TV conference and meet everyone in one place at one time. It’s kind of like one long happy hour. But there are times when I want to pitch a concept and there are no big conferences on the horizon.
This past April was one of those times. I had a last minute trip to LA come up and I wanted to pitch two projects, an animated TV series, Luke & Reece Save the World, and an animated feature, Dream Factory, while I was there. The problem with last minute pitch trips, is having enough time to set up pitch meetings.
I called a bunch of network and studio execs that I knew to see who had time to meet with me. I always try to keep in touch with my contacts so I can get ahold of them for these last minute meetings. At first it was frustrating. A few were out of town. How dare they? Didn’t they know I was coming? Yeah? They didn’t care? Crap!
At least I was able to land more than one meeting a day. I set up meetings at Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., SD Entertainment, Dreamworks and others. The biggest problem is dealing with traffic as you drive between meetings.
I was at NAB in Vegas and was still organizing the timing of my meetings. I had everything set and time between my meetings was perfect, regardless of traffic. And then… Dreamworks changed the meeting time. And then changed it again. Obviously, I accommodated the changes, but it kept leaving me less and less time for my Ru bicon meeting and I was sweating the drive across the valley to get to DreamWorks on time.
Day One: I drove from Vegas to LA for a lunch meeting with Tom Gammill, fellow NCS (National Cartoonist Society) member. Then on to the Chiodo Bros. stop-motion studio, my office when I’m in town (thanks guys!). I ended the day with one of my story artists, Aidan Casserly, at an event in Beverly Hills at the Paley Center.
Day Two: This day was full of meetings starting with an 8 a.m. breakfast meeting with Marge Dean of Wild Brain! Animation. Then on to a meeting at Rubicon, a lunch meeting at DreamWorks and meeting at Marc Zicree’s SuperMentors writers group. I ended the day at a WildBrain! party for Marge Dean.
Day Three: The most jam-packed day of the trip! The day started with a meeting at SD Entertainment, then on to a lunch meeting on the Warner Bros. lot with Alex Zamm. I worked with Alex on his movie Tooth Fairy 2 and on Ho ng Kong Phooey. I ended the day with a 5:30 meeting at Nickelodeon.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. And somehow I found a way to squeeze a conference amount of pitch meetings into one three-day visit to L.A. It’s possible, but the driving between meetings was nerve-wracking and completely out of your control. It makes the pitch conferences we advocate seem like paradise by comparison.
Keep on pitchin’!
See the entire article, including a more detailed and technical account at.. http://www.awn.com/articles/article/mind-your-business-pitch-trip
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Wayne and Danette have watched a few episodes of a series on Lifetime called The Conversation, where Amanda de Cadanet talks with four celebrity women about women’s issues, but also including questions like “What would you tell your 14 year-old self?” “What’s your favorite sexual position?” (Most guests usually clam up at this moment). She sidles up on a couch with her interview subjects making it all a bit cozy, and sometimes wears lots of makeup and sometimes looks like she just popped in from the laundry room sorting her clothes. It makes for some intimate conversations, but only if you are interested in that particular celebrity or feel she has something significant to offer in the way of life lessons. Many of them do not. I’m shocked how little Jane Fonda has evolved over the years. She has spent most of her 70 years always telling everyone how together she is. And here she admits how untogether she’s always been (including 25 years of bulimia) until just now. So she was full of it all those other times? The only thing we are convinced of is that she continues to be a good actress.
Mark, Wayne and their boys caught America’s Ninja Warriors. We like the American Gladiators Meets Wipeout format of the show, but two hours of watching challengers go through the exact same obstacle course gets tiring. Also, if they really were ninja-wannabes, shouldn’t there be some sword fighting? A couch potato wants to know.
Longmire on A&E is Murder, She Wrote in cowboy boots, Wayne notes. There’s a murder, a slew of suspects, and a finale where senior citizen Sheriff Longmire sleuths out the culprit. But the Wy oming location makes it a real blast of fresh air to enjoy the scenic splendors of the West. And it’s also fun to see Starbuck (Katie Sackoff) from Battlestar Galactica sass it up as Longmire’s deputy.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
That’s me, Mark Simon, striking a diva pose on the ground. This is the group photo taken in my old high school, Klein Forest High in Houston, TX. The reunion included drama kids from the past 30 years! We all came together to see each other for the first time since we graduated and to celebrate our drama coach, Mr. Steven Bradley.
It’s amazing how 30 years falls away to nothing when you see your close friends again. It was like not a day had passed, except we all had lots of new stories to tell.
Walking into our old school, which still looks amazing, was like turning 18 again. Even though I’m older than most of the current teachers there, I still looked at them as the adults.
Drama class was a huge turning point for me. I was late in joining. I didn’t get into it until halfway through my junior year. But I got into it big. We had a huge production of Fiddler on the Roof. I started as the artist designing the poster. I ended up building the sets and being backstage manager and became a thespian after just one play.
Until then, I had never thought of working in Hollywood. Sure, I had wanted to be an artist and animator, but drama put me on my path to Hollywood. A summer theater course landed me a scholarship to college and from there I went straight to LA.
What does it mean when a producer or network says they are seeking ‘four-quadrant’ scripts for television or film? Does it mean the story has to feature action that simultaneously takes place in the north, east, south and west quadrants of the country? Well, not exactly.
The ‘four-quadrants’ in question actually represent the four demographic groups – audiences under 25, audiences over 25, males, and females. So, basically, when a producer says they want a ‘four-quadrant’ script, they want a script that appeals to every possible audience group. Pixar movies would be considered ‘four-quadrant’ stories, as would the Pirates of the Caribbean series. You can’t exclude children when you aim for four-quadrants, but you don’t want it to be so kiddie-friendly it turns off adults.
So, the next time you deliver a broad-appeal script to a producer or network, confidently toss that puppy down on their desk, or into their email and proclaim, “I gotcha four-quadrants right here, baby.”
Where are Mark & Jeanne?
Mark and Jeanne just returned from a trip to Indianapolis, where they ventured outside the city to the home compound of Garfield comic strip creator Jim Davis. They spent two days with him and his wife Jill discussing a very exciting television project. More details to come.