Wayward Guide Production Diary #11 - The Hard Sell
How’s everyone doing out there?? Per usual, we want to thank you all for being so patient as we continue down the path of bringing Wayward Guide to fruition, leaving no stone unturned to help this show reach its full potential. Over the course of this update, we hope to illuminate you on the current stage of the process we’ve been deeply involved in since the end of September: finding a platform to distribute this show.
How it Goes...
Last summer, our personal TCB goal was to assemble assets for the show (the first 3 episodes around 90% complete, a sleek and informative pitch website, and a more spoiler-filled sizzle reel like the one we shared with you last month) to begin pitching it out to companies.
Most shows that you see on television or a streaming platform began as a pitch. Several men or women enter a daunting office building. They sit at a long desk across from executives smoking cigars, primed to hit the notorious “green light” button in front of them if the idea is worthy of their network. If all goes well and everyone approves, heaps of money are thrown at this project. In some cases, the entire first season will be ordered and shot. But on network television, a pilot episode is usually all these creatives get to show off their idea.
And IF that pilot is picked up from a cattle call of dozens of OTHER pilots, then typically HALF a season of television is ordered to premiere in the following fall or winter. And depending on how those episodes perform, the show will either be ruthlessly cancelled without hesitation, unable to find its audience or groove, OR it will be given a full season order. And after THAT, continuing to create while waiting to hit the chopping block is the name of the game! Needless to say, if your show isn’t a mega-hit RIGHT AWAY, the struggle to keep your work alive in today’s media landscape (with SO many different options to stream or watch) is real. Very real.
All of this is to demonstrate why we, the Tin Can Bros, have chosen the path of producing the entire first season of Wayward Guide and pitching THAT. The logic we’re proposing to a network: Why shell out studio money to make something when we’ve brought you an already completed piece of art featuring incredible talent, an innovative story-telling hook, and gorgeous production quality that we made all on our own??
The Silver Lining (Not a Werewolf Pun)
Seems like a no-brainer, ya? Unfortunately, our efforts this summer did not pan out into an actual deal for Wayward Guide. We had been predominantly bringing the show to our personal contacts (mainly in the digital realm). The current, candid reality of the “digital landscape” is that it’s a lot like the wild west. Different companies come and go in the blink of an eye. Money is casually being thrown around and then quickly withdrawn. Frankly, no one really seems to know WHAT they want. And over the course of several months, we found ourselves caught in limbo with companies overpromising, then ghosting, and with no one willing to make a commitment.
In one scenario, we had sent materials to a company (that we had worked with before) and wanted to set up a meeting to discuss them distributing the show. After finally getting in touch with the appropriate executives (there had been a LOT of internal turnaround since we last met with folks there), we spent weeks going back and forth to try and set up an in-person meeting. And when we finally ended up getting face-time, this executive had us pitch the whole show to him from scratch because he “couldn’t open the link due to internet issues." This company, that livestreams for hours daily from their in-house studio, was having such poor wifi that he couldn’t open a link!? We took out a laptop and opened the link for him right there on the spot. Suffice to say, we were polite, but discouraged that this executive couldn't take 20 minutes to prep for our meeting by looking through the materials we sent, after the hours of work we've put into it.
It was a frustrating few months and it felt like we ended up exactly where we started. But luckily, through a mutual friend, we were connected with a producer who loved the idea of the show and the materials we put together. Soon after, she offered to take us under her wing and help us sell the project!
FINALLY!! A sliver of hope! Without getting into too much detail, this woman’s experience in television is QUITE extensive and impressive. She has helped bring some major shows (that you've probably all enjoyed) to air and worked in development at several major networks over the last few decades. Not only does she provide knowledge and a perspective of the industry that we could never get from our peers, but having her clout in our corner would help us get into rooms that we could never get on our own. The new plan: craft an in-person pitch of Wayward Guide that sells the SHIT out of the story and concept, only to hit them with the fact that the show is ALREADY made right at the end. Since partnering with her in October, we’ve written, revised, and focused our pitch. Now that it’s approved by the whole team, we’ve begun rehearsing this pitch weekly to make sure it remains fluid, fresh, and organic for our actual meetings.
"Hollywood Time", A TED Talk
Which brings us to our current holding pattern. As we wait for meetings to be set, the concept of “Hollywood Time” has actualized before our eyes. An example to clarify: if you sent an email to a business associate regarding setting up a meeting about something, you’d expect roughly a 2-3 day window to get a response. And barring any great emergency, you’d logically be able to set a meeting and move on to the next order of business within a week. “Hollywood Time” works in the same way except it takes about 5 to 10 times longer. Until, of course, it doesn’t! Scenarios in which you sell a show and it takes 2 years to just approve a script are JUST as likely as ones in which a movie is green-lit and goes into production in a month to be released in six. It’s wild, exciting, infuriating, and confusing all at the same time. What’s the reason behind this way of working you may ask? We still haven’t quite figured that out yet. But we imagine it’s something that harkens back to our sentiments about the “digital landscape” of today: With power shifting so frequently, no one really knows what's going on. We live in a time when so many new ideas and innovations in media are cropping up that everyone, whether you’re a seasoned vet or an naive newbie, is trying to grasp onto SOME semblance of control and remain competitive in this insane industry.
Our producer has a first-look deal with a major studio. Meaning every project she works on needs to be brought to the studio first and they have the initial right to take it or pass on it. After only a few weeks of waiting, we learned that the studio has passed onWayward Guide, which is actually a good thing!! They had some wonderful compliments to say about the show but don’t have a place for it on their current platforms. And honestly, we don’t feel sadness! We feel joy!!! Rather than string us along for several weeks, we now are freed up to move on and meet with companies that we know Wayward Guide would actually be a better fit for. And just this past week, we got on a call to narrow those companies down to a “most desirable” list and begin making calls to set up meetings!!
Meanwhile, we’re just continuing to chip away on the final post production elements of Wayward Guide, prepping for multiple scenarios and timelines of completion should we reach a deal with one of these companies. And again, we can’t express enough how grateful we are to have your continued patience and support throughout this process. The intention with Wayward Guide was always to create a product that could be a stepping stone. A calling card for our work that would make us desirable creative forces to a producer or studio. Our online resume has afforded us an incredible number of opportunities and benefits, namely all of YOU!! You’ve made it possible for us to create so many things. But we want you to be able to enjoy our projects without also having to be responsible for funding them. And to do that, we need to level up. We need to break into this industry in a real way. And we truly feel like Wayward Guide can be the start of that rise.
But to do that, we have to honor the process and the “Hollywood Time” that it takes. Trust me, we are feeling JUST as impatient as you are about releasing Wayward Guide. Probably even more so, as we’ve been sitting with the material for over a year, watching it over and over and over thinking “God. We can’t wait for other people to see this.” So, as always, thank you for bearing with us. We try to give you as much context as possible with these updates to help you see every angle of where we’re coming from. And to make sure you know that the delay of Wayward Guide is not for nefarious reasons, but because we are doing EVERYTHING we can to play the long game, to lay foundations for a future filled with endless projects and thriving careers.