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Simon Staffans: Five Golden Rules for Format Pitching Success

Media City Finland format developer Staffans' advice for budding MIPFormats Pitch contestants. Take note!

By

Simon Staffans

So, how’s it coming along, that format of yours? The one that will be accepted into the MIPFormats Pitch competition March 31? The one that will be the foundation of a mind-blowing presentation that will knock everyone in attendance off their chairs and land you a very interesting €25000 development deal with Warner Bros.? It’s coming along well, right?

Well, just in case – I’m not saying it is, mind you – but just in case it’s not flowing the way it really should be, now might be the time to take a step back, assess the situation and take a good look at what you’re about to submit.  It’s a bit more than just your average pitch, you see. Get accepted, make a storming success with your format and pitch, and for the rest MIPTV you won’t have chase acquisition people or commissioners – they’ll chase you. How timely it is then, to share with everyone thinking of applying these Five Golden Rules for MIPFormats Pitch Success*.

 

1. Be original…

Bring out the creative in you and create something truly original. Something that oozes freshness, exhudes the feeling of the future and gives off that smell of “The Next Big Thing” that everyone loves so much. Don’t try to replicate “Millionaire” or “Idol”. Go for something of your own. It’ll be yours and yours only, and if you can get the jury and the audience excited, you’re halfway there.

 

2. …but not too original!

Yes, everyone wants to buy the next big thing. Everyone would, however, prefer if that next big thing came with excellent ratings in a number of territories. So, without contradicting the need for being original and standing out of the crowd, there is no need to go completely out of bounds either. Most won’t be impressed by a format centering around three monkeys, a saw and Santa Claus. Do your research to see what already exists and make something to complement that (hint: you might be smart to take a look at what formats Warner Bros. already have in their lineup).

 

3. Make it, test it, remake it

I know you don’t really have to have a sizzler or a teaser or a trailer. I know you should just be able to go up there and pitch your idea, basically from a paper, with perhaps a not-too-glossy powerpoint backing you up. But if you have a camera and Final Cut or Avid on your computer, or a friend that is great at animation, or someone who can do a web page mock-up really quickly – do it. Make some sort of pilot that you can use material from and that you most importantly can test on the intended target audience. You will see new possibilities in your idea (along with new pitfalls), and your final pitch will be all the better for it. Fail, and fail often – that’t the only way to stay truly on course.

 

4. Go multiplatform … or why not Transmedia!

Multiplatform content simply makes sense. The second screen experience, the apps and the widgets and the connected TV sets… it all adds up, and you’d do well to include multiplatform thinking at a very early stage in your format development. And if you’re doing that; why not use transmedia storytelling methods to develop this multiplatform content? It’ll help you get everything to gel and fit logically and immersively like nothing else.

 

5. Rehearse that pitch!

When you’ve been accepted there is only one thing to do. Rehearse that pitch. Try it on your friends. On your husband. On your parents. On your friends again. On your kids. On people you’ve just met at a party. You cannot reahearse it too much. Best of all, a good pitch will let you see new sides and new possibilities in your project. Just back it up with the best material you have at hand… and conquer the stage at MIPFormats.

 

Hope you all do splendidly, which you can’t possibly not do, if you follow the advice above. Hope to see you in Cannes in March!

 

* Note: Success is not entirely 100% guaranteed by the author. He gladly leaves that minor task up to you, the creator of the format ;)

 

To take part in the MIPFormats Pitch competition, click here!

Call for entries deadline: February 6, 2012.

 

Simon Staffans is a format developer for Media City Finland, and a regular contributor to MIPBlog. Check out all of his posts here, and follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

 

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  1. Pingback: MIPFormats announce pitch Competition finalists