Breaking Into Hollywood – How Do I Translate the Entertainment Trades Into Project Sales?

One of my most popular articles to date has been “Breaking Into Hollywood – Do I Need to Read the Trades?” In that post, I outlined the minimum types of information you should scan the trades for and also suggested key trades to read. Thanks to the strong response I received, in this article, I’m going to follow up with specific examples of what you might find in the trades – and how you can translate that information into selling your own projects.

Whether you work in film or TV, you can put these tips to use, even if the specific example is not from your industry.

Let me start by recommending you immediately ditch any hard copies you receive of the trades and sign up for the electronic versions instead. That way, you can easily copy and paste information straight into your databases or share it with partners and reps. Remember, always show copyright love whenever it bears stating!

Now, here are six ways to “trade up” your daily reading into a focused, project-selling process:

Trade-Up Tip #1: Track the Trends
As you prepare to pitch various projects, the trades tell you what’s hot and what’s not. Guess which trend you want to be riding? For example, for reality TV professionals, over the past two weeks, we’ve learned that:

My Network TV is about to replace 33% of its programming with reality TV AND 180 from telenovelas to targeting male viewers (reality producers, take note); Court TV’s first scripted project is a hit with viewers (fiction producers, here’s a new potential buyer!); NBC, the CW and Bochco himself all are about to launch original Web-based programs (everyone, are you still ignoring new media?); and Networks in general are looking for cheap ratings bonanzas in brand-friendly game shows (got a talent option you don’t know yet how to capitalize on?) All of that info ought to help show creators decide which ideas they are going to prioritize developing to maximize sales possibilities. Database these updates in a simple table or spreadsheet, and you’ll always be timely in your pitch meetings. And remember, the execs you’re pitching expect you to know this info if it was in the trades!

ACTION PLAN: In Word or Excel, build a simple abc kids table with columns for network/studio name, programming announcement(s) and announcement date(s). (when you buy my book, “The Show Starter Reality TV Made Simple System, Vol. 1: How to Create and Pitch a Sellable Reality Show,” if you join the Show Starter Online Group, you can access a file of over a dozen network programming announcements from this year’s upfronts.)

BONUS ROUND: If you don’t have any pitches that ride the trends, rework existing projects to stay current. Is there a cooking pitch you love that also might make a terrific game show? For helpful process tips, read “Show Starter, Vol. 1” pp 25-27.