Pitching Fundamentals: Tools for Any Scenario

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Hosted by Charlie Charbonneau

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Charlie Charbonneau

Webinar hosted by: Charlie Charbonneau

TV Writer/Producer (CW's The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Secret Circle)

Charlie Charbonneau is an accomplished television writer and producer whose credits include the 1-hour dramas The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals. Born in Las Vegas but raised in the sleepy horse track town of Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York, he moved to California at 17 where he earned degrees in Screenwriting and Spanish from University of Southern California. A born self-starter and anxious to learn the business from the ground up, Charlie quickly continued his Hollywood education as an assistant at The William Morris Agency. There, his work garnered him an intimate and expansive knowledge of the entertainment business and a litany of agents, attorneys, and talent with whom he proceeded to construct his writing career. He cut his TV teeth by assisting and then writing and producing for the likes of writer and Executive Producer Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You did Last Summer, Dawson’s Creek, FOX’s The Following) and Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Containment), eventually earning the title of Executive Story Editor on The Originals. During a time when Network TV saw gradually decreasing ratings, over 3 million viewers from all over the world tuned in live for his episodes week-to-week. In production on its 7th season, The Vampire Diaries can still frequently be found among the most downloaded episodes on iTunes as well as the most watched series on Netflix. Full Bio »

“Your Dad could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves” —David Spade, Tommy Boy

You’re a writer. Your work is entertaining, informative, thought provoking — heck, it’s even clever. You dream of tapping away on your lap-top in a cabin, sending off your material to a publisher or a producer, and collecting your check from the mail-box in the evening before pouring yourself a glass of Malbec red wine and walking your dog by a river. It’s a beautiful dream. But the reality is, no matter how good your writing is, no matter how brilliant your ideas are — if you’re ever going to have that cabin, not to mention enough cash to cover dog food every month, you have to know how to pitch well.

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, TV Writer/Producer Charlie Charbonneau (CW shows: The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals) will teach you how to successfully pitch your ideas as a writer. You’ll learn about the many different scenarios where you’ll have to translate that spectacular idea in your brain to someone who’s never heard it before. This webinar will lay out the rudimentary yet vital skills used by the pros to win over the show-runners, buyers, and agents. You’ll hear about the nitty gritty do’s and don’ts of pitching in places like the TV Writers Room, a studio or network executive’s office, and at lunch with the agent or manager you’ve been dying to meet with.

Also, Charlie will be giving you tips on how to nail your 8-minute pitch so you can take advantage of the Happy Writers pitch sessions offered every week. He'll guide you through how to start, cultivate interest and leave the executives wanting more. He'll not only cover live pitching but how to deliver a superb written pitch! 

You will get to examine the biggest enemies to a great pitch — fear and anxiety — and strategies to neutralize them so you can keep your cool. And, of course, those who tune in will get to catch some horrific pitch fails from the trenches of TV staff writing.

Writers in any medium and at every experience level will benefit from this webinar — from novices to experts. And anyone else looking to hone their sales tactics in the entertainment industry or elsewhere will walk away with strategies to bring their pitch games to the next level.


What You'll Learn:

  • Why pitching well is vital to every writer’s success. Understand the obstacles to making yours great
  • Different pitch scenarios
    • Studio-network pitch
    • Writers room
    • Pitching an idea or a “fix” for someone else’s episode
    • Pitching your own episode
    • Pitching at a party or lunch
    • Pitching friends
    • Pitching at a staffing meeting (aka interview)
    • Pitching representation (agents, managers)
    • 8-minute Happy Writers pitch session - both live and written 
  • Honing your basic pitch skills — eye contact, facial expressions, effective communication, broad concept vs. Specific ideas, making information relatable, humor, contextualizing your idea, personalizing your idea
  • What not to do in a pitch
    • Pitfalls of not enough preparation
    • Don’t ask to start over
    • Don’t read from a memorized (or printed) script — be conversational
    • Don’t get too detailed. Give the right amount of information depending on the type of pitch and your audience
    • Don’t let someone spin your pitch into a totally different idea — you might sell something you hate and have to write it (see the David Duchovny movie The TV Set for a nightmare example of this)
    • Never ignore your audience, their reactions are integral to your success as you pitch (just like stand-up comedy)
  • Do your homework — how to prepare a great pitch
  • Studio-network pitch - tips to crush it
    • Be conversational
    • Start broad, give your idea real-world context, don’t give too much detail or risk losing your audience
    • Speak in terms that network or studio can relate to — align your pitch with their brand’s tone.
  • Writers room pitch do’s & don’ts
    • Pitching an idea or a “fix” for someone else’s episode (learn how to kill an idea without killing momentum, right moments to weigh in, when to stay quiet)
    • Pitching your own episode
    • Left-field pitches — the good & bad
  • Tips for pitching at a staffing meeting (aka interview)
    • Watch the most recent episodes or read the pilot
    • Compliment the material, but don’t be afraid to say what you didn’t like! This can help you (sometimes)
    • Discuss your favorite characters and why
    • Think outside the box, but inside the format of the show, pitch something you wish the show would explore
    • Ask questions to help you decide which of your prepared ideas to pitch
    • Bring your personal life experience to your ideas — show off your skill-set
  • Tips for pitching friends & representation (agents, managers) — email & in-person
    • Friends are your practice ground — use them to prepare, but take their notes with a grain of salt
    • Agents have heard it all, and they’re busy — wow them with loglines, compare your work to other successful projects on the air or from the past (e.g. It’s Supernatural set in post-WWII Europe, or it’s Lost meets DeadwoodJJ Abrams’ new show).
    • The electronic pitch — see a short template for how to query or pitch an agent/manager via email.
  • Pitfalls — what can go wrong during a pitch and how to recover
  • How to take notes after your pitch
  • Defending your ideas
  • Tools to overcome nerves. Fear & anxiety are the leading enemies of creativity — learn strategies to neutralize your biggest adversaries
  • Case study — Charlie’s hilarious personal pitch fails

Plus, an in-depth Q&A with Charlie! 


About Your Instructor:

Charlie Charbonneau is an accomplished television writer and producer whose credits include the 1-hour dramas The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, and its spin-off The Originals. Born in Las Vegas but raised in the sleepy horse track town of Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York, he moved to California at 17 where he earned degrees in Screenwriting and Spanish from University of Southern California. A born self-starter and anxious to learn the business from the ground up, Charlie quickly continued his Hollywood education as an assistant at The William Morris Agency. There, his work garnered him an intimate and expansive knowledge of the entertainment business and a litany of agents, attorneys, and talent with whom he proceeded to construct his writing career.

He cut his TV teeth by assisting and then writing and producing for the likes of writer and Executive Producer Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You did Last Summer, Dawson’s Creek, FOX’s The Following) and Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Containment), eventually earning the title of Executive Story Editor on The Originals. During a time when Network TV saw gradually decreasing ratings, over 3 million viewers from all over the world tuned in live for his episodes week-to-week. In production on its 7th season, The Vampire Diaries can still frequently be found among the most downloaded episodes on iTunes as well as the most watched series on Netflix.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!


Testimonials:

"The pitching webinar was fantastic. Every I was dotted every T crossed. It helped me to really understand the process than to be afraid of it. I still have lots more work and practicing to do, but it was great. Thank you." - Mindy G

"Very informative!" - Carisia S.

"I liked his down to Earth manner." - Margo T.

"Great real life examples - much appreciated!" - Paul B.

"Charlie put a lot of heart in his presentation... that's everything!" - Matthew R.

"This was exactly what I need. I'm totally new to the industry and I wanted insight into how to best prepare for pitching my projects. Charlie, thanks for doing such an excellent job of providing that insight." - Cam Clark

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Great insight and easy to consume methods on getting your pitch ready.
  • Merci beaucoup Charlie. Very clear and informative information, which will most definitely help grow pitching potential.
  • Charlie has a great demeanor and delivery. Very comfortable. Great insight on structure of a good pitch.

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