“Trust me! This show is the next (insert major success story here)!”

I have produced exactly one movie, so far, but I still get lots of movie pitches and screenplays.  I don’t mind them, actually, because I’m sure I will stick my toe in the water again soon when the right project comes along.

But writing about Paranormal Activity yesterday reminded me of one of those pitches I just got a few days ago for an indie-horror movie.

“You into movies, Ken?  Because I’ve got one for you.”

“Oh yeah?  What is it?  What’s it about?”

“I’m telling you.  This is the next Paranormal Activity!

And that’s when, believe it or not, I checked out.

Believe me, I understand the importance of framing, and giving your potential buyer something familiar to sink his/her teeth into . . . but that’s not what this person was doing.  This person was baiting me with financial success.  Ok, I sorta get that too . . . but it wasn’t what I asked.  And if you think I got into this business for financial success, you’ve been riding on the crazy train for a little too long.  Sure, Producers hope for financial success (usually so we can produce riskier stuff in the future), but it’s not why we do it.

And more importantly, and this is the point of this blog . . . do you know how many people have approached me with . . . “I have the next Stomp!  I have the next Blue Man Group!  I have the next Book of Mormon, Les Miserables . . . even . . . I have the next Altar Boyz!”

You know what all those shows, and any of Broadway’s biggest hits, have in common?

They are all unique.

So stop trying to be someone else’s show, and just try to be your own.

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • He pitched it to you as if you were a Hollywood producer. In Hollywood, they want everything boiled down to what it can be compared. “It’s [insert hit movie title here] meets [insert hit movie title here].” How anything good gets through the system, I’ll never know.

  • Actually, no, he didn’t . . . that’s kind of my point. He didn’t give me the ol’, “It’s Die Hard on a bus,” he just said, “I’ve got the next Die Hard.” And when Hollywood is beating you in creativity, you know you’ve got a problemo.

  • Excellent point, Ken. You’d think filmmakers/producers would have learned their lesson by now that knocking off box office successes simply doesn’t work (Jaws and The Exorcist are two historical examples that come to mind). Sure, these things have the potential to make a small profit since viewers are hungry for more of the same, but these movies tend to be poorly made and soon forgotten. No offense to all the Shark Attack 3 fans out there.

  • David Merrick Jr. says:

    I have to admit I miss your blog posting about GODSPELL. Great behind-the-scenes stuff.
    Why did you stop? (I know you did one about the flash mob).

  • Lisa V says:

    I think the hardest part about pitching is that what works with some folks doesn’t work for others. Have these people literally been pitching you on sequels ie STOMP II or the same concept with a slight variant ie Book of Mormon but with Jews? Or are they simply trying to assure you that the incredible story they are about to tell you is worth your time because in the end you will make money? Sounds to me like you might be cutting them off in their pitch-preface before they ever get to the actual pitch which might be totally original….

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