Have you always had a perfect idea for a TV show but no time or inclination to fight your way through the iron-clad gates of Hollywood? Your day has arrived.
Universal Cable Productions (UCP) has announced an open-submission call for story ideas through April 21. A chosen few will move on to a 10-minute pitch session with executives on April 28. No details are provided on how the pitches will be conducted, but it can be assumed video or audio conferencing will be used for submitters who can’t get to Los Angeles.
This announcement is actually an amendment to their first call, publicized last week through Deadline, which included this odd requirement: “In order to be eligible, applicants must know a UCP employee or have a direct connection to someone who does business with the studio.”
Am I wrong or is that not basically an invitation to stalk their employees?*
The initial announcement also opened with this altruistic statement before revealing the ridiculous limitation: Universal Cable Productions has set its first pitch fest on April 28 for storytellers who have ideas for a scripted television show but don’t have access to development executives.
Reactions were swift and brutal, these are just a few from Deadline’s comment section:
UCP – a subsidiary of NBCUniversal – saw the error of their ways and removed the restriction, also adding a link to the submission form. Read the contract carefully, because like all submission documents its written to protect the company. It stipulates that story ideas are rarely completely new, so if a piece of your pitch shows up in one of their future shows you have no recourse. But that’s all part of the nature of pitchfests, which are still one way to get a foot in the door so for many people it’s a calculated risk.
Of course crowdsourcing talent isn’t new in entertainment but it’s never taken off in content creation the way it did in music. Amazon Studios instituted their open-submission policy in 2010 but we rarely hear about it. That’s partly because the ethereal nature of ideas and greedy reputation of studios have made storytellers cynical about open calls. But it’s also because stories take so long to develop, and by the time they come to fruition the original creator may have moved on to new projects, or sold the idea outright for a clean break.
Regardless, it’s tough for average people all across the country to try and pay the mortgage, raise a family and also harbor Hollywood dreams so this kind of access really is a boon. And this opportunity is coming from a better studio than most people realize.
UCP isn’t one of the biggest name production companies but they’re behind hit shows like Psych, Mr. Robot, and 12 Monkeys. They’ve been successful with genre fare and have strong partnerships with USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Lifetime.
If you have an idea all you need is this form. Fill it out with basic information and provide a logline, (read before signing!) then sit back and wait for that call.
*About the stalking? I wasn’t the only one who thought of it!