Dorie Geniesse | TV Writers
"...of the 26 current projects I've pitched
at the TV Writers Vault, there are thirteen
different concepts under official consideration,
with four different TV companies, including seven
Congratulations 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 TV Series 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
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 with Producers.
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
Dorie Geniesse: 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
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
DG: I started about nine months ago in August, 2010.
My first review came that month with my first
Producer contacting me in December.
When I came onboard, I knew nothing about the
industry, how to create a project, or what the
expectations were of the producers (whatever they
did!) The overlapping differences between Reality
Series, Game Shows and Docu-style Series evaded me,
The very best decision I made was to have you craft
my first three projects (View 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 could compete.
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 persevere. 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 the moment?
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 pastimes.
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
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 and producers?
DG: Creating 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 withered quickly. It was
fascinating watching the evolution. One commonality
was that the longest lasting shows were bigger, more
challenging, and exceeded the envelope of what had
been done in the past. 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
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 the outcome.
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.
For 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
relationship. I have Howie (Smoke & Mirrors
Creative), Jim (Buck Productions) and Scott (TV
Writers Vault) to thank for that, as well as the
others with whom I work.
SM: 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?
DG: Thank 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.
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 good question. 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 up. I didn’t know that when I began, so
I would put out a good concept with no talent
attached. 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 your concept. 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 talent. 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 tell them?
DG: This website and service could be a book. The
most important step is to sign up immediately for TV
Writers Vault. There are countless production
companies out there and all of them are trying to
find new ideas. There are thousands of aspiring
writers/creators out there that want to connect with
Producers. There is no better venue than this. It’s
safe and professional. TV Writers Vault gives
writers a shot, and it’s a potpourri for producers.
SM: What is the most challenging aspect of pitching
DG: Patience, 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 them,
too. 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 information. 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 review.
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 comes along. It’s all a
part of the business, so don’t take it personally.
SM: What has been the most exciting part of the
process for you?
DG: Every step of this process is exciting, except
the “No”! Getting the first request for contact was
thrilling, though I drove the producer crazy, right
Oliver?! Working out the concept and watching it
morph into something far better than the original
concept. 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
DG: Absolutely. 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 hidden treasure. 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 a service?
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 continued success!
DG: Thank you, Scott, for your support and this
SM: My pleasure. Keep us posted.