Dorie Geniesse |
to Writer/Member Dorie Geniesse of Mazomanie, WI.
on her recent successes pitching reality-based
TV projects to Producers at the
TV Writers Vault. Geniesse has struck a
multi-project development deal with Smoke &
Mirrors Creative (FOX's
Mobbed, Creators & Executive Producers)
in addition to several other option deals she's
secured with various companies. Her success is a
testament to her true love of the creative
process, tenacity, and intelligent approach to
formulating new projects.
To date, Geniesse has pitched
dozens of reality-based concepts, receiving more
than 160 official reviews by Producers and
Executives, and secured deals with a handful of
major Production entities.
She shares with us some of her experiences at the TV
Writers Vault, and the process of collaborating
"One of our responsibilities as Writers is
to help the Execs know what's going on in our
world away from LA and New York."
Its been quite a ride for you, Dorie, and
wonderful to see all the connections and deals
you've set up with Producers on your projects. I
appreciate you taking the time to share your
experiences with other Writers and Concept
Creators at the
TV Writers Vault.
Thanks for interviewing me, Scott.
I hope I can help some other aspiring
creators and writers.
Your interview with Chris Cowan of Angel
City Factory was terrific.
Every writer should
read that interview, and
all the rest.
These producers tell us what they want,
if we just take time to listen.
SM: How long have you been
pitching reality show projects using the TV
Writers Vault, and how long was it before you
got the call from Producers for your projects?
Tell us a bit of your experiences in that
DG: I started
about nine months ago in August, 2010.
My first review came that month with my
first Producer contacting me in December.
I came onboard, I knew nothing about the
industry, how to create a project, or what the
expectations were of the producers (whatever
The overlapping differences between
Reality Series, Game Shows and Docu-style Series
evaded me, too.
The very best decision I made
was to have you craft my first three projects
Scott Manville's Development Services).
From those experiences, I learned what
format is expected and works.
How to “see” the project before I put pen
to paper, and what it takes to catch the
Executives’ eyes. To date, my projects have been
reviewed over 160 times.
From August until December, I
probably crashed your server by checking every
15 minutes to see if anyone reviewed my
projects. That was the hardest part, because
until a few were reviewed, I didn't know if I
SM: What has
using the TV Writers Vault helped you understand
about the process of pitching reality shows that
you may not have known before?
DG: The short
answer is that I didn’t know anything before
using TV Writers Vault, so I had a huge learning
curve – and one that I still haven’t mastered.
Once I was contacted by a few kind,
patient executives, I learned a terrific amount.
Each one has his or her preferred format and
writing style, pet genres, specific contacts,
and unique personalities.
They also appreciate our professionalism
when we follow up, respect their time, and
Without TV Writers Vault, I never would
have gotten to work with these wonderful
SM: So jumping into your
current projects, I'd love to know (without
disclosing any confidential info about the
projects) what's on your table with Producers at
DG: I have
several projects in various stages of disarray.
They cover the gamut from Bodyguards to
History; from Toxic clean up to a Large and Wild
Animal Veterinarian ; and from Mississippi River
Salvage to Hypnosis to strange American
All in all, of the 26 current
projects I've pitched at the TV Writers Vault,
there are thirteen different concepts under
official consideration, with four different
companies, including seven contracts.
SM: Its clear that you're very
focused on the docu-style reality genre. What is
it you like about creating these projects? Any
advice you can share with other aspiring writers
these shows is great fun.
One thing I did- I went back through ten
years of TV Guide Magazine to see what had been
created in the past, what lasted and what
It was fascinating watching the
One commonality was that the longest
lasting shows were bigger, more challenging, and
exceeded the envelope of what had been done in
Most likely, someone knitting on their
front step isn’t going to work unless he’s 7’
tall, discovered in a cave in the Antarctic, is
nocturnal and uses thread made out of meteors
and penguin feathers.
For writers, think about what
shows are popular and dissect them.
There are certain characteristics that
must be present regardless of genre.
It needs to be unique, it needs to have
people you care about, that are strange or
unique, and it must end with something that
makes you feel good or something that makes you
want to return to watch because you need to know
One of our responsibilities as
writers is to help the Execs know what’s going
on in our world away from LA and New York.
I have an email list of about 4000 people
and I ask their advice all the time.
Producers and Executives, take a little time
with us newbies.
Many of us are diamonds in the rough and
if you’re willing to educate us and encourage
us, it may turn into a fruitful long-term
I have Howie
(Smoke & Mirrors Creative),
and Scott (TV Writers Vault) to thank for that,
as well as the others with whom I work.
From the time you started pitching, up until
now, I've seen a dramatic improvement in the
quality of your writing, and the way you
formulate concepts. Do you think this may be the
result of having so many conversations with
Producers... Kind of learning how to think and
focus an idea?
you, Scott... and Howie, Jim, Courtney (Film
Garden Entertainment), Oliver (BEI TV/ Fremantle
Media) and the rest. Most definitely you and
these wonderful Execs have shaped my writing.
Each has his or her own style of writing, so
there are many ways of presenting your concept.
Some like to experience the show as it unfolds
in a multi-sensory method method of writing.
Others write like attorneys in a factual style.
And others like the writing to flow from one act
to the next. The key is to write it your way,
then modify it upon request. There are two rules
I always follow: 1. Respect my reader's time.
Use the fewest, most precise words available to
tell the story, and 2. Spell check!
SM: So what
do you feel makes one reality show concept stand
out among the many that don't go the distance?
In the many projects you've created, how have
the successful ones been different? Can you put
a finger on it?
DG: That’s a
I learned from Oliver that if they do
take on your project you need film (for docu-style
series), which means you need the talent lined
I didn’t know that when I began, so I
would put out a good concept with no talent
Well, that didn’t work very well.
It’s easier to build a concept around
unique talent than it is to find talent to fit
There are definitely some secrets to
finding talent, but the best tip is tenacity.
I’ve been working on one concept that
will have taken us seven months to find the
The good news is that we’re close to
signing them, and the better news is that no one
else has had the tenacity to get this done.
SM: If you can share some of
your firsthand experiences with
other aspiring Writers and Producers who
haven't used the TV Writers Vault, what can you
website and service could be a book.
The most important step is to sign up
TV Writers Vault.
There are countless production companies
out there and all of them are trying to find new
There are thousands of aspiring
writers/creators out there that want to connect
There is no better venue than this.
It’s safe and professional. TV Writers
Vault gives writers a shot, and it’s a potpourri
SM: What is the most
challenging aspect of pitching projects?
tenacity and flexibility.
It may take up to 18 months from when a
writer gets “Requesting Contact” from a Producer
review at the TV Writers Vault and a TV show.
For docu-reality series, that assumes the
talent is attached and a video is available.
During that time, it’s a rollercoaster.
It may take four months before you get to
“no”, and you start all over.
The talent needs to be nurtured,
informed, and kept up to date or you can lose
It’s important to remember, and to tell
the talent, that this is a collaborative
adventure, and “the whole is greater than the
sum of its parts”.
Another difficult piece, and
truthfully, I haven’t figured this one out yet,
is keeping the options open.
For me, it is simpler to work with one
company on a concept rather than juggle one
concept amongst several companies trying to
develop it prior to any deal.
Each company has his/her own vision of
the show and you, as the creator of the idea,
have to make sure that you don’t leak any
In larger firms, your contact person may
not be the decision maker.
In smaller companies, he or she usually
has to sell your idea to a production company.
In both cases, your contact person is a
conduit to a production company who then might
produce a “sizzle reel” (for $25,000 or so) that
can be taken to the network or cable company for
Production companies can’t stay in
business if they make too many sizzle reels that
don’t sell so it takes time. Your contact may
also have a change in priorities. Your concept
can be dumped because something bigger or better
It’s all a part of the business, so don’t
take it personally.
By the way, the writer usually
doesn’t get paid until his/her show is on the
What has been the most exciting part of
the process for you?
step of this process is exciting, except the
Getting the first request for contact was
thrilling, though I drove the producer crazy,
Working out the concept and watching it
morph into something far better than the
Finding and signing the right talent.
Getting my first contract.
And ultimately, getting paid and seeing
your show on TV.
All of it is great.
SM: Have you
been pleased with the level of Executives and
Producers you've met through the TV Writers
They are all unique individuals, and so
we as writers have to respect and honor that.
Some people are easier to work with than
others, and I’m sure they say that about us
writers as well.
All have offered a tremendous amount of
insight, though with some, it was more of a
One thing to keep in mind is that our
jobs as writers is to make the Executives’ jobs
easier by staying in touch with the talent,
arranging times for conference calls, gathering
the information the executive needs such as
biographies, photographs, descriptions and of
course, tape and keeping a pulse on things.
Talent also deserves respect and
SM: What do you feel is the
most valuable aspect of the TV Writers Vault as
DG: Not to
sound melodramatic, but I wouldn’t have one
concept in front of anyone had it not been for
TV Writers Vault.
Within the first 18 months of starting,
there’s a possibility that I’ll have four or
five of the thirteen shows on air.
One show might expand as a franchise to
three or four shows in different cities.
It wouldn’t have happened without the TV
Writers Vault and the producers and executives
who taught me along the way.
SM: Its been thrilling to see
all of the momentum you've gained with your
projects and Producers. We look forward to your
you, Scott, for your support and this terrific
One last thought, everyone
should visit and contribute to
It’s a great place to get advice or
support, and I hope to meet you there!
Thanks again, Scott!
SM: My pleasure. Keep us
Read other TV Writers Vault