Screenwriting : Can I pitch a project I want to produce myself? by Francesca Tatini

Francesca Tatini

Can I pitch a project I want to produce myself?

Hy everybody! I'm new to all this so I have a very naive question... I have a project which I'm trying to get going. I have a small but determined production company, gorgeous but not famous actors and, of course, the script. BUT... no money. So, in addition to crowdfunding and sponsor search I would like to pitch the project to companies in the search for an executive producer... but can I actually do it? Or is this just leading to eventually sell the script jeopardizing my effort to build such a great team? Should I say something like... "Hey, I need your money but you keep my people!" ... I know this doesn't sound good... any advices?

D Marcus

Of course you can do it. If you pitch it to a prodCo and they love it and want to take produce it with their own team, you just say "No thank you, I want to produce this myself and keep my team." and move to the next one. You are not obligated to accept an offer to finance that you do not like.

William Martell

If you have crowdfunding as your financial source why do you need an outside producer. What am I missing, here? What are you pitching the project for and who are you intending to pitch it to? If you are pitching to a distributor, that makes sense because once you have completed your film you will need one to get it out there. And some distribs might be able to do presales on your project, which won't give you money but the promise of money upon delivery of the film. Sometimes you can borrow money off presales contracts. But most of the people I know who made a film from crowdfunding basically just used what was donated.

Francesca Tatini

Thanks Marcus and William, very useful points of view. @William: the project is a SciFi TV series (12 episodes - one hour drama) so we're not going to make it just with crowdfunding. According to our business plan the whole project would be around 2 million euro... so we're thinking to use crowdfunding to finance part of the pilot and then move on with a product to show to financiers. Even for the pilot, we would need an executive producer, to whom I'd like to pitch, and more money, that are my reason to pitch. The executive producer could still chose the director(s) and part of the main cast. Yes I'm thinking about distributors, but the script is in english and it would be a hard sell here in Italy... so I guess I have to get international contacts...

D Marcus

You didn't say the project is a TV series. TV is my profession. What you want to do is considerably more difficult in TV. No network or cable channel is going finance your series and give you full creative control - you just don't have the experience to be the show runner. However, you can still make this independently and hope it gets picked up. Good luck!

Francesca Tatini

Yes Marcus you're absolutely right and what you said is what I expected. I don't want full creative control but I do want my actors in. I perfectly understand this is pretentious... and the showrunner would not accept me choosing the cast… I know this would be wrong for many reason. So I’ll try to go independent for the pilot and see what’s coming next. Meanwhile I have other scripts I can pitch without complications :) Thanks Marcus, I do appreciate your help.

Stavros Georgiadis

Producers and companies do this every day Francesca. It really depend on how you structured your project... Generally, if your looking for $ then your either going down the grants route or partnership route. Crowd-funding has been a brilliant boon for indies but without names the general amount of contributions don't get the sufficient amounts of $ to do the project justice. But I would like to ask: have your produced a TV series before? Has your team producer serials? Is it for TV or You Tube or other on-line content platform? While there is a progressively stronger case for investment for on-line content (HULU, You Tube, Amazon invested projects) your business plan, capabilities will be a strong determiner on your success in getting contributions by these companies.

Francesca Tatini

Hi Stavros! I have no experience in producing but my team does. We're currently doing brainstorm session to understand where the product could be better placed: TV would be the best option but we're definitely considering on-line and /or home video placement. The BP is still under construction and our first goals would be to attract a good director and a few names for small roles or cameos. This could help the crowdfunding campaign and the search for partnership (we do need a producer in addition to the small company we have now). To attract those people we have the script (yes I do believe it's good) and... a luxurious stay in Tuscany during the shooting which may be attractive as well. Also, I'm thinking to get sponsors who could boost the crowdfunding campaign. I don't know if it makes sense but how about this: say you have a character drinking a lot of coffee... you can get a company who makes coffee to help in the campaign; since you show the brand they're interested in getting the product done... and distributed. What do you think?

Stavros Georgiadis

Product placement is OK. be careful and ensure creative execution comes first. The creative execution must be seem-less. Blazen names shoved down audiences eyes will be seen that way and it becomes counter to the interests of the project and the product being placed. There is plenty of research into this so Googling it should give you what you need. This said if your driving the project then you, Francesca, are the producer....... You can have exec producers/co-exec producers, line producer, associate producers etc but from my perspective/philosophical perspective there is always only one CEO and therefore ONE producer. I hope that helps?

Francesca Tatini

Yes Stavros it does help! I agree the creative side comes first. This will pay at the and of the journey... Even if it's going to be a long journey... I'm the producer in this project but as you said I'll need to have exec, line etc... and since I'm the one lacking experience I'll have to look for people who have it and listen to them very carefully... I think it's the same philosophy :)

Francesca Tatini

Alle of course we'll have consent before doing anything. And the coffee character was just an example. ;)

Stavros Georgiadis

Alle, yes, product placement will always require permission--unless you wish to be sued for breach of Trade Mark or Copyright infringement. This is why you ensure your chain-of-title is secure.

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