Unlike Hollywood, we DON’T do it this way.
Some say Broadway and Hollywood are sister industries.
Stepsisters with the same hair color that often get confused for real sisters, maybe. But I’m not so sure we’re related by blood.
One of the primary differences between the two sort-of-siblings is how things get purchased (aka produced.)
I was reminded of this the other day when I was talking to a Hollywood screenwriter of mine. I caught her on the phone while she was celebrating the sale of a pilot.
“Wow,” I said. “How did that happen?”
“What do you mean, Ken? I went into a meeting. I pitched the idea. They’re paying me for it.”
That’s right. She sold it on a pitch. And lots of folks in Hollywood have similar stories.
Now, imagine going into a Broadway Producer’s office and pitching a play or musical . . . and someone buying it right there!
It doesn’t happen.
Because on Broadway as opposed to Hollywood, we don’t buy on pitches.
So what does that mean for you if you’re a TheaterMaker looking to get produced?
First, remember that when you make a pitch, no one is going to produce your show based on only that pitch. Remove that possibility and you’ll remove some of the stress about it.
Your goal at a pitch meeting is to get the Producer impressed about the idea, and more importantly, impressed with YOU. Your goal is only to get them to want to read your script or attend a reading when something is on its feet.
This is the same advice I gave when I spoke to a group of actors a few weeks ago. Don’t go to the first audition trying to get the part. Get the callback first. THEN we’ll figure out how you can get the part.
Second, and related . . . if we don’t buy on pitches, how does Broadway “buy”?
Well, it’s baked into the above, but the truth is . . .
Broadway doesn’t buy on pitches. Sometimes we buy on pages. But more often than not, we buy on what we see PERFORMED.
That’s right . . . the fastest way to get someone like me to produce your show is to get it up. In some way shape or form.
It doesn’t have to be a full production. It doesn’t even have to be a reading. Tony Winners Pasek and Paul got their first show on by putting songs on YouTube. Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa Kron wrote and starred in short plays of her own. Lin-Manuel was performing in the basement at the Drama Book Shop (which he now OWNS).
If you want to get produced, yes, prepare your pitch. And yes, perfect your pages.
But figure out how you can get show your show performed.
(Oh, and before you run to Hollywood because you want to sell some stuff just based on your idea, let me break it to you . . . sure, they buy stuff on pitches, but there is no guarantee they’ll ever make it.)
Want more advice like this? Join the TheaterMakers Facebook Group and connect with more theatermakers like you.
Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.