Wednesday Workshop – Polish and Pitch

Posted on: Wednesday 03 July 2013 7:52pm by Milly Ali


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“Success is not just about talent & timing, you can engineer success with processes, rules and checklists” Alexander Bar (Creator, Mike the Knight).

“A practical workshop. I feel better informed about the ‘polishing’ aspect to Development” Stephanie Wahlstrom (Channel Manager).

“It’s reassuring to know that a nervous pitch doesn’t spell disaster if you have a good idea” Ros Attille (Series Producer, Midnight Oil).

“I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and I’ve learnt so much from this workshop.” Timothy Fancourt (Producer & Director, Studio43).

Top ten takeaways:

  1. Deliver the concept of your idea in one sentence.
  2. Pitching is not a science but a philosophy. Be self-critical and do your research.
  3. Keep the pitch short, simple and memorable.
  4. The creative process should be analytical and informed.
  5. Identify a theme, audience and gap in the market.
  6. Things change, be flexible and roll with the punches.
  7. Think, does your idea have commercial viability? If so it will have a better appeal to the networks.
  8. Who you know does matter, but nobody will back a bad idea.
  9. Grow and evolve your brand. Change is good.
  10. Be professional, be passionate and learn from failure.

The charismatic Alexander Bar delivered a wonderfully practical and informative workshop to an engaged audience from the animation world of tv, publishing and online media. A panel of heavyweight session experts each delivered a 5 minute personal and professional biographical pitch. The delegates were in great company!

The workshop agenda was set early and kickstarted with the question; ‘where do ideas come from?’ It was quickly established that good ideas can come from anywhere. All agreed. But how do you turn an idea in to a show concept? This required more expansive exploration but the cut and thrust of it was to summarise the idea in to one sentence, establish the audience appeal and consider the commercial viability.

Now for the science bit…. well maybe not. Alexander Bar took a more philosophical approach to this rather than trying to dissect the pitching process scientifically. He firmly believed that there was no one golden way to deliver a pitch. ‘There are a number of ways to approach this but try and inject your personality and charisma into it’. No doubt that comes easy to the confident session producer.

As part of the workshop, 5 delegates were pre-selected to pitch their idea to the floor and the panel of industry experts. This wasn’t the most ‘natural’ setting for pitches and some were more nervous than others. They all delivered varied pitches firmly rooted in animation. With each individual assigned an expert from the panel, the delegates formed small groups to discuss how they could develop their ideas and pitch to get a step closer to that magical green-lit commission. Each expert imparted invaluable advice and it was clear the group workshops were helpful.

But, not to lull everyone into a false sense of eternal developmental optimism, Alexander also peppered the Polish and Pitch workshop with some tough love advice and how to avoid development hell.

Well, I for one can’t wait to start my new Development role at CBBC, it now sounds like heaven to me!!!

Alexander Bar, Content Creator & Creative Producer

Dominic Gardiner, Kids and Family Entertainment Consultant
Christopher Skala, Senior Vice President, Guinness World Records
David Hallam, Head of Development, The Foundation
Christina Fuimara, Kids & Family Entertainment Consultant

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Milly Ali, Producer & Director

About the author

Milly Ali

Producer & Director

Milly has worked for the BBC, ITV and several major indies on multiple genres - Observational documentaries, Factual Entertainment, History and Crime docu-dramas. She has made programmes for all the major UK broadcasters: BBC, ITV, Ch4, Channel 5 and produced for digital channels Yesterday and the Crime and Investigation Network… Read more