Scott Manville: Jon, you've been very focused on creating original TV series projects to pitch in our marketplace, and I believe this is your fourth producing deal after engaging with an Executive Producer here. Without giving away any details of the actual project (confidentiality/nda in place), what seems to be a common thread within the various projects you've pitched and landed deals on?
Jon Stewart: I feel that my projects are an amalgam of a few particular commonalities. They’re either extremely funny with bizarre characters (Tire Kickers), they follow a proven format that is successful and people are familiar with (Wrestling Rescue & GraveYard Shift) or they have the pulse of the public interest, like our UFO/Alien project.
Don't reinvent the wheel, do what networks and the public want. As my father would say, don't become a typewriter repairman while staring at a Macintosh Computer in 1983. Right?
Does a new creative/producer/writer need to live in L.A. to connect with buyers and land deals?
No, you no longer need to live in L.A. Yes it helps. If you can meet a Producer for coffee before their day begins, yes that is desirable. But with Zoom, Google Meet and the Internet, living in L.A. is not detrimental to your project. Now, you could also do what I did for Wrestling Rescue. I purposely vacationed in L.A. with my family and took meetings in West Hollywood one afternoon. I ended up selling Wrestling Rescue over lunch!
What do you like about our platform, as you've used it for many years?
I've said it over and over. I love the re-edit process, the instant notification of interest on a project (so exciting, still to this day to get an email that a Producer is looking at my pitch) and the fact that on a single platform you have a broad reach across the TV industry. Proof? I received calls from Producers in LA, England, New York, Texas and Canada. So, the TV Writers Vault has global reach.
Specific to this project and the producing deal you’ve landed, how long was the pitch listed for, and how many companies viewed it before the right Executive Producer connected with you to negotiate?
The pitch was on site for two days. Now wait a minute, don't roll your eyes; when I put on Wrestling Rescue at 10am I had a verbal agreement while I pulled into my driveway at 4pm...so trust me, it can happen like a lightning strike. Here is my best opinion on receiving or not receiving a contact request:
If your pitch isn't getting Producers even eyeballing it, you have an issue. When I sell a vehicle at the auction and no car dealers bid on it- "Houston, we have a problem". I don't shake my fist and yell at the car dealers present, telling them "they don't know what they're missing". Put your ego away, and realize that all your "tumblers" are not lined up to "unlock" any interest.
Conversely, my project Hooked, had the most views ever on this site. Ever. Have you seen Hooked on TV? No. So the "All-Seeing All-Knowing Jon Stewart", missed something. So do not blow off the fact when your pitch isn't grabbing attention, something is wrong. I hired Scott Manville to write and advise, why aren't you?
What advice can you give to a creative person new to the process of developing and pitching TV show ideas?
My advice: A great tag line! A great title! Proper grammar helps. Don't shortcut your episodes or pitch. That's my bad habit. Producers love to read and get as much info as possible. Ask ANYONE for their opinion on a title. I got the title (Hooked) from a cop, Wrestling Rescue from my wife and Tire Kickers from a salesman. Average people sometimes have above average ideas!
And lastly, NEVER give up. My latest project was laughed at, ridiculed and almost cost me my relationship with my agent. But if you believe in it, never ever give up! Rewrite, retool, redevelop and even go towards a slightly different path, but never give up.
I wish all of you success. This is a brutal business, but TV Writers Vault is an oasis in the desert!
Your success is in large part a result of what seems to be a thirst for exploring and discovering parts of our life and world. And your dogged determination. We're happy to be part of your journey, and wish you the best with the series!