ATX TV Fest has an annual pitch competition, where, within the confines of a 90-second video, you must pitch your idea for the next great (scripted) TV show. I entered the competition in 2013, and gleefully made it to the 25 Semi-Finalists list. Unfortunately, I did not make it any further. We entered again last year, but we made the video literally the night it was due. We had been in San Diego for maybe 4 days. Needless to say, we did not make it any further.
This year, Cory & I developed a new concept and filmed the video in our tiny apartment. It was a solid pitch and we knew it. But it was still pretty cool when we officially made the 25 Semi-Finalists list. There was a new component this time: semi-finalists were asked to submit a 10-page writing sample, proving that you can work within a narrative and in the genre that you were pitching. No sweat. Cory & I poured over the written content we had, pulled our best 10 pages from an original pilot script, spent hours and hours and hours and hours editing them to hilarious perfection and submitted. No sweat.
We were proud of our 10 pages, and of our pitch video, but without knowing your competition, there’s not much you can do but hope for the best. And the best came. We were on the list of the 10 Finalists. We were going to Austin to pitch our show idea in front of an audience and a panel of industry insiders.
The Pitch Competition was Friday morning. We got into Austin Thursday afternoon, registered, and spent the rest of the day in our hotel room, rehearsing. We had some posters (thanks to our friends for providing and creating the images on VERY short notice), which we had packaged at FedEx to fly out with us. Rehearsals went well. We were confident.
When I told people about this competition, especially people here in San Diego, who haven’t known me that long, they all asked, “Oh my god, aren’t you nervous? In front of an audience?” To which, I’m sure my friends back in NEPA would laugh and laugh. I am not afraid of an audience. And I wasn’t afraid of the judges. I was nervous, but the good nervous. More than anything, I was proud. Proud that I made it this far. Proud that this was really a joint effort between me and Cory. Proud that I was so confident.
You have to understand: what I love, there aren’t always competitions for. It’s not like singing or dancing or showing off some kind of talent, or even just writing. This was a competition where I got to stand up, microphone in hand, and talk for three minutes about what I love most. Hopefully, not for the last time.
The competition went by super fast. We went fourth in line, and nailed it, just as we rehearsed. We watched the rest of the pitches from the back of the room. Some were good, some were surprising, one was so great, I would have bought it right then. The winner was announced, and it was a pitch that went before us, so we didn’t see it. We heard it was good. And we’re very happy for the winner.
Afterward, we got to speak with the judges and got some valuable insight into what worked and what didn’t.
Even though we technically “lost,” I never felt an ounce of disappointment. Making it that far was the goal. The rest of the weekend, those judges actually would stop and talk to us — not just about the pitch, but small talk and general conversation. They recognized us. It was a good feeling.
Now, we get to take everything we learned, all the advice, all the notes, and combine it with that confidence knowing we CAN DO IT. We can make a TV show. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. But it’s coming, friends. Mark my words.