Having worked in the distribution business for longer than I care to remember, I thought about the moments that stand out, the moments that really mattered in this remarkable sector. What they have taught me and continue to teach me. Here goes!
1. Anyone can come up with a great idea.
Don’t disregard that random unsolicited pitch email or call. Ideas don’t have to come from seasoned development teams, writers or producers, they can land in your lap completely free of charge, begging to be told and made into a great piece of television. They can come from the office junior, they can come from the CEO, they can come from a start up producer or creator who can’t get a look in at the big networks… As long as you believe in the story and can sell it, don’t let the glass half empty brigade detract you. Persistence in our industry is everything.
2. Not everyone has to like your idea, but if you believe in it, listen to your instinct and don’t let go.
I always like to refer to my Popstars adventure at this juncture. I first heard about Popstars in 1999, from the then Director of Programming at Seven Network Australia, Chris O’Mara. Rejected by other distributors, I was asked to pitch for the rights by the Australian Producers, Screentime. Not everyone was a fan in my team… There was nothing else like it, and this made both our sales team nervous and our clients nervous. Where they felt gloomy about the shows prospects, I felt excitement and saw something magical… Who could tire of watching ordinary people with big dreams try their hand at the big time? It had after all been done decades before in varying guises (New Faces etc), but never in this way and there was just something I couldn’t shake. I ploughed on and the rest is history… and was also by the way a history lesson in the do’s and don’ts of format protection.
3. The biggest creative and commercial luminaries I have been lucky enough to meet were once just starting out too.
Stephen Poliakoff, Keith Chapman, Kay Mellor are three names that spring to mind that I have collaborated with over the years. The first at a time when his series Shooting the Past, had no appointed distributor, the second after he had recently hit the jackpot with a little builder called Bob and the third before she set up her own successful Indie Rollem.
My point? Always treat every pitch with the same respect, regardless of its origination. You might, after all, be backing the next global success story.
Alison Rayson is one of our pre-MIPCOM MIPBlog Ambassadors, who are coordinated by consultant Debbie Macdonald. Check out all of their posts to date here!
Top photo: © Gettyimages/ Todor Tsvetkov