26 March 2014

Pitching a television show - from BVE Talk 2013

Broadcast Video Expo (BVE) was on in London recently and yes this post is a little late (its been a busy couple of months!) however I wanted to share it with those of you who might be writing or pitching tv shows.

I'd love to pitch a tv show, have several on our slate but with the upcoming career break (going around the world for 14 months! woo hoo!), I'm just taking care of projects and finalising others before embarking on anything new.
However for those of you who are wanting to start pitching "the next big thing on tv" on....

For those of you've who've not been BVE is on once or twice a year showcasing the latest cameras, equipment, suppliers and also a huge wad of interesting talks. All for free. Just register online.
I cannot believe I've not attended before!
This talk I went to was brilliant, especially for people who are interested in pitching TV projects ie. narrative, factual documentaries, docs, live shows, ec.

Inside the mind of the commissioners (my annotated notes)

Philip Edgar Jones
Director - Sky Arts

 Justin Gorman 
Head of Entertainment - Channel 4
Kate Maddigan 
Commissioning Editor - ITV
Sean Hancock 
Commissioning Editor Entertainment - BBC 

Q: What do the channels look for?
Sky - the first question for them is "why is it worth paying for?"
Sky is subscription based, so they are supply demand style of channel, unlike the other channels sky has to fulfill a certain amount of subscriptions and keep those subscribers happy. Very reactive to their audience.
They are looking for a show that changes the game like big brother.

Channel 4 - People want to watch what they know, warmth.
Working with Derren Brown in features.
They don't make nasty telly, but always talking about the warmth. Story of warmth, nothing spiteful.

They are willing to take risks, canceling Dancing on Ice for something new. Commissioning new middle eastern shows, repackage, recreate them. Ie In Patient.

"Finding new ways to telling the universal story"

How do you pitch?
The Idea - Production companies/ producers should start with the idea first. Nothing beats the idea and all the commissioners agreed that if the idea isn't strong it doesn't matter who is attached.

Do the work - put together your package to sell it. Don't just use loads of PowerPoint slides, practice your pitch on friends and remember to keep it simple. Don't go in with all your ideas. Choose your best few.

Do the research - what is this channel lacking? What do they need? How can you position yourself so they need your show? Why would your show work best on their channel - whilst everyone knows you pitch to other channels they want to feel special so make it specific, then they have less chance to turn you down.

Saying no- make sure they have no chance to say no, it's so much easier to say no, so make it hard. Make it really difficult for them to dismiss your idea.

Let them help - dont do everything. Present your idea, script, or story. Do it well, then the channel will help find & attach the talent.

Are they risk averse?
Sky is very much customer interst based, yet they want to see something different. Sky don't want to do what everyone else is doing.

BBC take less risks on BBC 1, therefore they have great talent attached to manage risk. BBC 3 is all about risk. So do pitch things that take a risk and do something new.

Smaller companies think about what you can bring to the project, what is your USP. Pitch only a few ideas, only what you are passionate about. Don't come with a list as long as your arm, they know you're not passionate about all of them. Make sure your pitch is consise and to the point.

BBC - Recently had a great pitch, where someone came in and identified a problem area that they weren't fulfilling in their current lineup. So advice is to do the research and know which channel you are pitching to and identify an area that's not being served and show them the solution.

Channel 4 - They like to see the brief, the characters and a synopsis. Make sure you love it, know it and think about it. Make sure it's right for Channel 4.

*Always see what the channel line up is, and get familiar with it. Make sure you know who you are pitching to, and are familiar with their shows.

What are they looking for?
Sky: intelligent quiz, comedy, next big reality show. Fact ent. Sky Arts celebrate new talent and old great people.
Channel 4 : Studio & game shows, big live show, reality / game show, e4 looking for something for 10pm slot, pop up events for charity.

Top Tips:
  • Don't sell
  • be passionate
  • One line pitches are the most successful pitches.
  • Know the area
  • They will know in 10 secs if they want you.
  • Don't lead through a PowerPoint.
  • Don't give them a easy reason to say no.

"Best television is stuff that touches you in everyday life." 
Philip Edgar-Jones 

Head of Entertainment at Sky

I hope this is helpful to some of you out there, and do let me know how it goes if you pitch to any of these guys! 
and Good luck.

19 August 2013

Preparing your Crowdfunding Campaign: Top Tips

After going through all the research and craziness of putting on my own crowdfunding projects (with one live right now), I wanted to give back all the information I found out, and hopefully save other people some of the pain and confusion with putting your project together.

I also wanted to write a quick article on something that a lot of articles out there don't focus on.
THE PREP. Most people think 'money' and after that think 'spread the word' but in order to get started and actually have a successful campaign we've discovered its more about the prep work you do and how much you anticipate the needs and wants of your audience.

So below is a small cheat sheet or check list to make sure you have got everything you need and you wont panic 2 days in when you realise you forgot your website, didnt send out any emails and dont have any graphics to go with your campaign.

We take a quick look at how hard it is to Crowdfunding and a couple of dos and donts...

CHEAT SHEET - Prepping for your campaign
Getting your campaign together is about planning, just like preproduction for a film, you need to make sure that everything is ready to be seeded once you go live.
From the images, logos, to the rewards, website, social media and of course the crowdfunding video.

The preparation cannot be underestimated - trust me. Just like a really great marketing campaign, your crowdfunding campaign needs to be planned and prepared, because you will find all sorts of last minute things cropping up! Trust me!

In preparing here are the main things you need to get sorted:

To begin the Crowdfunding you should gather a good core team behind you made up of:
GRAPHIC DESIGNER -essential for crating cool pictures, images, storyboards and stuff you can seed online on social media.

CAMERAMAN/EDITOR - to shoot your video and any follow ups.

DIRECTOR - to help refine the vision for the project they can also help direct your Crowd funding video & rally members of the crew.

THE NAME - a named cast or crew member will really give your video a boost, and get it to fans outside of your network.

SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM- you'll need help tweeting, face booking and all that. Rope in your production team, or get a dedicated person to post. For A Perfect Soldier we have our production team doing the bulk of social media each day, then the other members of the project help out when they can.

MENTOR / ADVISOR - someone you trust who can give good advice and feedback. Someone like my Exec Producer Christine Hartland who has worked on many films and campaigns before

LITTLE BLACK BOOK - your list of contacts who you can hit up for favours, quotes, ideas, money and more.

and of course YOU!
Try not to spread yourself too thin by taking on too much, if you make sure you have most of the team above you should be able to supervise and not get too crazy & stressed!

Before you start anything work out who your film will appeal to, who will want to watch it?

For example my film A Perfect Soldier is a sci-fi political drama with humanist themes.
Therefore my crowdfunding campaign will target these groups:
1 Sci-fi fans; both literary and film fans. These guys are a huge fan base.
2 Film fans; both drama, & political.
3 Human rights groups - this is a tricky one, as the film is political and has a great thread of morality and humanist themes we will try to tap into this particular community.
4 Family/Friends/Industry - of course you will always rope these guys into supporting you. However be aware that the successful campaigns have 60% of strangers to fund them, family & friends tend to fall into the 20-30% bracket. So be kind, and have them spread the word for you, as it will help more than them donating their 5 bucks!

Now you know your targets. You can collate all the marketing material for the campaign based on the groups above!

The video needs to be clever, something that will catch peoples eyes, and they will want to forward to friends. It should also reflect the theme and style of the project see my friends Timos video for his sequel to the hit Iron Sky, BEYOND IRON SKY VIDEO. 

Timo's kept the style of the project and themes, and created a cheap and clever video to appeal to his fans.

Wheras my video was very much based on appealing to people to collaborate with me. Our project A PERFECT SOLDIER isn't a sequel so we didn't have an inbuilt fan base. Instead I wanted to tell the story of the conception of the project, and give our audience a chance to join our team, and collaborate with us.
To keep interest we shot it in one take, kept it short and sweet, and introduced people to really make that connection with our audience - oh and made it fun!

The best videos I've seen are the ones that appeal to the audience, make it a friendly joint venture. 
I AM I Campaign Video - Ok so I'm gonna advise, that yes! You can take other peoples ideas and make them your own, which is exactly what I did for A Perfect Soldier. I loved the I AM I video so I took parts of it and remade it.

Another favourite is Amanda Palmer. I think it was so clever letting the music play and telling her story without interrupting her music!
& don't just do one video! It's great to do an update in a different way so prople don't forget about it!

Do some research, find the ones you like, that fit with your project and get out there and make a video!

Checklist of questions:
How will you get people to watch it, without it becoming just another film trailer or 'please give me money' video? 
What is your project about, and does it fit the project?
Will it appeal to your audience?
What will make me (your audience) want to watch it or share it?

So Indiegogo advises no more than 8 (which is fairly small) rewards offered. But both Kickstarter & Indiegogo advise that you offer rewards for donations of less than $20. It makes campaigns 40% more likely to succeed.
What rewards to offer?
Well, be innovative, don't just offer a DVD or an invite to the afterparty - I mean some of your funders may be overseas. Try creative collaborative rewards, such as offering to be in the final film, lending their skills to the soundtrack, or creative mementos/experiences: A visit to set with a signed pic of them and the cast, a meal with the director, a consulting session with the producers.
Check out other campaigns and see what they have to offer. Maybe pinch a few of their more innovative ideas? 
I love the VIP online access to behind-the-scenes material, or even a trip to a film festival!?
Also my top tip for this is to make sure it doesnt cost you to deliver. I had a friend who offered free DVD to people and spent a lot of their end budget paying postage to send them across the world!

Make sure you have it made and designed before you head off and make your campaign live!
I was tweaking ours hours before we went online ( And even then I felt it wasn't right. So take the time to get it right before you send our your campaign email!
You can add more info here, Thank sponsors, and create your VIP area too, and don't forget to add a PayPal button just in case people want to support without going to your Crowdfunding page.
Top Tip is to shell out a few quid to buy a domain name that redirects to a free website, its easier than numbers and everyone can remember it.
I used Go Daddy to buy the domain & then created a free website at

Use you graphic designer to create a whole heap of great content BEFORE you launch. Otherwise you'll end up scrabbling for stuff to post on your crowdfunding site and your social media pages.
What is relevant? What will your backers like? 
What will get people interested?

Here are some tips on what content works where:
Facebook: Loves pics, movies, links.
Twitter: Links, Quotes, Pics and of course talking to people directly @, Dont forget to #film @indiegogo
Pinterest: Tricky, I have a board for the project as I LOVE pinterest. But it is Aspirational, so any content needs to be something people want but dont have. I've not heard any success stories from crowdfunding on pinterest so we are trialling it. If you know anything please email me, I'd love to hear how others are doing it.
Website : EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. Enough said.
Crowdfunding site: Pics, videos, proposals. Dont forget to UPDATE your funders every week or few days. Its a great way to keep them posted on whats going on and get them talking about the project again!

Tips on writing your campaign email. There are so many dos and don'ts which could take up an entire post. But I will touch on the top ones:
Email to your friends/family
1 Say hi and intro us to your new project.
2 Tell us WHAT it is & WHY it is important to you.
3 Then tell us Why its going to be AMAZING!
4 If you can have pictures or a picture and a link to the campaign on the site.
5 Give us a brief low down on the rewards you're offering
6 Add your unique ISP. Something that makes your email & your project stand out for us. So we WANT to donate.
Finally a tip DO NOT BEG. DO NOT PLEAD and DO NOT ASK FOR MONEY. Think of this email as inviting us to become your collaborators, to join you on a quest to create the ultimate exciting project!

This is the part where you find your marketing friend and say 'Help me goddammn it!'
Create a plan. When I started A Perfect Soldier I googled marketing campaign plans. Then I copied theirs, crossed out the things that didn't apply.
Here are some great links you can check out: 

After checking all these words of wisdom out, we created a monthly plan, with each day assigned to one member of our team. On that day they had facebook, twitter, pinterest columns, and in each column was content they were going to post. Of course thats just a guide, as social media is 'social' we spoke about interacting with our fans and replying to them too. Offering interesting content thats related to our project as well, so we weren't always blowing our own trumpet.
You can see for yourself here

We created a list of interesting articles we could post during the campaign. Things that people who would like our film would be interested in.

And a list of sci-fi quotes we could use, that we'd take out one word and put in #indiegogo.
For example

These got great traction with fans and were retweeted quite a bit with both our quotes and interesting articles....
And used Tweetdeck to schedule our tweets when we were out having fun.

We also rang a friend @Srazzi She's a social media guru, who gave us a draft social media plan of hers, and we used that to plan out our social media-isng.
And don't forget to post during the times below. Its when your post will have most traction and potentially the most views:
Optimal times for Social Media
Facebook: 10-4pm Mon-Thurs
Twitter: 1-3pm Mon-Thurs
Linkedin: 7-9pm, 5-6pm Tues-Thurs
Pinterest: 2-4pm, 8pm-1am Weekdays, Sat 9-12pm

So thats the round up folks! Its a long post but hopefully you'll gain some ideas and create a kickass campaign yourselves. And please do let us know about it, we're always happy to RT and help others.
Its great to form communities that support eachother, and who knows where you'll end up.
To quote my favourite writer's dialogue:
"The wheel never stops turning"
Joss Whedon, Firefly.

So keep it up folks,
till next time,

Jade & the team at Little Jade Productions.

23 March 2013

Storytelling Seminar at AdWeekEurope

What a week!
I was lucky enough to be sponsored to attend Advertising Week Europe and rub shoulders with huge agencies and amazing creatives.

I attended several conferences which I'll blog about here.
This one was my favourite, the title was 'ITV presents Chapter and Purse turning stories into sales'
Wow - what a title. Honestly my mind said 'boring but perhaps ok,' there wasn't much else going on so I decided to attend with my trusty friend Hanna the Marketing Whiz (yes thats her real title - to me at least!) at DHP Studios.

It was a great panel discussions lead by Tom Bradby who just the day before had been reporting on the budget cuts in parliment - so he was quite happy to be talking storytelling instead.
The panel consisted of (from the right):
Kate Brooke (screenwriter Mr Selfridge), Kieran Roberts (ITV Creative Director and Exec Producer of Coronation St), Warwick Cairns (Author), Enyi Nwosu (MD of M&C Saatchi) and Tom Bradby (political editor ITV News)
Please be aware these views are my own and based on my notes, I'm biased and listened to the stuff I found interesting!

So we started off with a great point from Warwick Cairns that all societies tell stories even if they haven't invented the wheel. I believe he was quoting someone, not sure who.
To this Kate added that 'We see the world through stories'. Totally agree on this point, which obviously is where the marketeers come in and say that brand stories is what they get paid the big bucks for!

Tom then asked, Why do people like stories?
My favourite answer was from Kate who said: Entertainment, myth, truth
Interestingly enough they all agreed that truth played a fundamental part of any story, whether it be advertising, a made up tv show, a novel or a screenplay. The truths of our lives is what calls to us.
I believe this is what Antonin Artaud talked about in his essay Theatre of Cruelty. From my vague student years at university I remember a theory he proposed about once the truth is seen on stage it lights up a beacon inside the actor, which in turn lights up the audience so you have this wonderful picture of a single light inside a being, which in turn makes other lights come on like a wave through the crowd.

Warwick - (who was quite verbose) then talked about the writers/authors test of a concept:
1 Do I believe it
2 Do I care and 
3 will I go on caring?
Very good advice for budding screenwriters. 
In fact each week I'm getting script submissions from writers, some who do not seem to care about their characters, and some highly unbelieveable. They also do not seem to care who they are submitting their work to, what the company has previously produced and whether their script is right for that company. (This is a whole other rant for another day - needless to say please do not submit your kitchen sink comedy to my company. Unless it is sci fi based.)

Talking about screenplays, Kieran of Corrie St, believes character should come first in a story- but it needs a hook.
Oh I cannot agree more, too often the scripts might have one interesting character but no hook whatsoever. Something that defines this story from others. 
Enyi from M&C Saatchi who is well practised at creating a story you will engage in, in a very very short amount of time (30 sec spot on tv) believes that each story needs:
Compelling insight, 
and a fact about the brand 
He is currently hooked on the Gatorade replay campaign which has been developed into a series and is going to be a feature film.
He also mentioned their work on Coke Zero campaign Street Striker. They realised the brand ambassador for Coke Zero, Wayne Rooney, was not pin up material. So instead of putting him on a poster the needed to come up with a ad campaign that would promote him and Coke Zero to 16-25 year old boys. Using truth, insight and brand values, they created a tv show that reflected Rooney's roots, finding young street footballers around the UK by Rooney, who were then put to their test at trails and get to perform in front of Rooney. He himself was discovered as a street footballer so this had truth in it, he was also passionate about this and it aligned with the Coke Zero brand values of creating opportunities for young people. In short it was a hit show with Sky buying the series for 5 years.

An interesting side note to this was that unlike a book, commercial or feature film tv shows can  respond immediately to audience feedback

Recently Enyi tells us the 30 sec spot is so short, the trend in advertising is to have intrigue rather than straight out there in your face type advertising.
He mentions all the big brands tell stories and these stories are what we remember about them.
Tiger Woods deal with Nike was not affected by his infidelity because the brand had their own story that people remembered.
They talked about the John Lewis Xmas ad
and how it has become a bit of an institution each year!

There is a real skill in creating a 30 sec ad/story which not only that, has to stand multiple viewings, wheras television shows are only aired once

However as Kate pointed out, ads work by condensing everything into 30secs. The skill of telling a story in a very short time, probably why a good short film is hard to find.

Kate quoted this wonderful quote from Ernest Hemingway. 
The saddest story in least amount of words "For sale, baby shoes, never worn"

Enyi reminded us that Brands can tell stories about what they believe in, but they cannot tell stories about their products
I then asked Kieran about branded content and how that is going for ITV and Coronation street in general. He mentioned they have a deal with
National Bank for ATM's, and brand associations are on the rise in television programmes. But he assured everyone that brand associations should
 not and would not get in the way of the programme or change the programme. Phew and there I was worried Corrie st might...get...worse?

It was a brilliant panel, chaired wonderfully and I really enjoyed it. Hope you gained something from reading my notes and perhaps some insight into
the similarities of writing whether it be for screen, books, commercials or any other format.
Happy writing.

9 January 2013

2013 Begins...

Happy New Year!
Well after a brilliant restful trip in Barcelona I've come back to the grey and cloudy London!

Pic : Greg and I in La Familia Segrada Church, Barcelona

Today seemed a good day to begin the 2013 blog as I had my first audition today (commercial) and possibly because of that it started to feel like the beginning of the year!

At this point I've got several projects that are lined up for 2013 both acting and producing wise.
The most exciting one being 8 The Series which has just signed with Koldcast.
Read the exciting news below:

In the next few weeks we hope to have more information on when you can start to watch 8 The Series as we sort out production dates!
For more info see:

In other news there are several long term projects that I am beginning to focus on now including the ones below. Its exciting to start a fresh page in a new year and I hope to finalise some of these projects in 2013!

Short Film: A Perfect Soldier: 
A Soldier, A Scientist and A Turncoat meet in a room. This short film is based around the recent development of experimental DNA based toxins and their impact upon the world

Feature: Amazons

Book: P City
Providence City is a cyberpunk novel centred around Providence the daughter of a high ranking Mob Boss Alkemides. 
Set on a distant planet where extreme heat from the sun literally bakes a person dry, the cities are protected by Atomoshields. Which keep temperatures similar to those of Old Earth. However this system is run by The Council in A City, who have totalitarian control of these colonies. When P City's protection is revoked Alkemides takes over the running of the survivors in P City. However The Council does not approve of them surviving. The Council wants P City destroyed, and send in armed forces to destroy whats left. Pressures from southern gangs and the original inhabitants of the planet all start to combust within the city limits and its up to Providence to figure out how to save her city.....

20 September 2012


Inspiration, Dedication, and consistency. These are the things that get projects done. Get films made, shows put on, deals created and so forth.

As I venture further into producing projects as well as being an actor or facilitator, I realize how essential it is to have a supportive team around you. To have people you work with who are an inspiration to you and the project!

Several projects of mine have lagged, due to financial problems, lack of time and lack of resources. As much as I'd like to be a one man band it's difficult!!

So I'm looking for collaborators constantly, people to work with and get inspired by.

In the end isn't this why we do what we do?
So if this is you please get in touch! I'd love to work with you.

8 August 2012

Gratefully creating

Tonight I was invited to the Lost Short film night held at LBi each month.
What a fantastic line up! Including previews of documentaries, most expensive music videos from partizan, a meditation on the integer between numbers 3 and 4 and French grad animations.

It was afterward in the pub that things really got started, and then influenced this blog post.
Chatting to Orlando Wood from Biscuit about his latest documentary Revisionaries (winner of Tribecca Film Fest).

We were (as producers inevitably do) talking about funding and how shorts are a pain as harder than features. It's always a slog, long hard battle to get money, keep it, do you're tax on it...etc.

And incidentally we both realised we had previously been pretty bad at Maths!! He'd had an ex-classmate say to him "but you were terrible at maths!"
Glad I'm not the only math-phobic producer out there. (thank god for excel!)

But all this crowd finding and financing talk made me realise something on the long walk back to the station.
That no matter what, or how, no matter how you spin it, we in the film business are pretty privileged and lucky people.
We are surrounded by exciting creative energy and are supported by a whole leading cast.
I walked on realising that perhaps the homeless guy asking for cash was not or had never been in my position.

I come from a middle class family, went to a good school, had a good education, went to uni and although I never was crazy wealthy- I've definitely had lean months, hell, lean years!
But I've always been lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing support group.

Even here in the UK, away from my best friends and family, I look around and see support from my partner, my boss, my colleagues, acting buddies and friends. It's this realization that makes me so grateful.
It's not how far I go in my career it's really about acknowledging and realizing these amazing people around me.
It made me thrice more grateful for my life, my job, my three careers and the numerous projects. Right now I'm involved in one project in pitching, one in post (sound) which needs to be in pitching, a new feature film role to learn, a long term script to rewrite, another script in development, a feature audition to tape, a newly developing feature, work shopping a cabaret, a novel and mini series to finish and other ongoing projects....hmm just realized how many different things that is!
But most importantly without my support network, doing coffees with me, helping out when I call unexpectedly and advising me in my life, I'd be nowhere.

So I want to take this time to say thank you. To be grateful to them.
Starting tomorrow. ; )

My question to you is :Who do you want to thank in your life?
Who's in your support team?

Til next time!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone