Monday, July 7, 2008
Interview with Pamela Schott, My Visual Pitch
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
We recently ran into Pamela Schott, founder of Los Angeles-based MyVisualPitch.com (www.myvisualpitch.com), an early, seed stage startup which is looking to bring the power of social networking and an online marketplace to the process of pitching material to Hollywood. We thought it would be interesting to talk to her about the company and how it came about. The firm is currently bootstrapped, and is in the midst of raising a round of funding.
Tell us what MyVisualPitch is, and why people use it?
Pamela Schott: MyVisualPitch.com is an online social networking marketplace, that brings together unsigned talent with industry professionals who are looking for the next big thing. By unsigned talent, I mean filmwriters, composers, musicians, and actors--anyone who is trying to break into the industry, and needs that access point. For the industry professional who is grappling with the sheer number and volume trying to break in, how do they find relevant content that will match their slate and ultimately make them money in the marketplace.
What's the story behind why you decided to start the site?
Pamela Schott: I'm a screenwriter, and have had success getting to a certain point to get my material optioned, and into development. I had some production companies that took my material and got it ready for the screen, and then they got fired, or moved position, and had to start again at square one. I have a strong background in advertising and marketing, where I wrote, produced, and directed commercials. I had enough initial success that I knew I had market worthy material. Then, I got to the point where I was here in LA, shopping, getting no where--and thought--how can I make my material rise above? I really considered giving it up altogether. My husband went out and bought me a MacBook, and I started playing around with the iMovie software, and thought--I could make a little trailer for my stuff. I put together, for one of my most popular scripts, a visual pitch, and sent it to my manager, and told him to give it to everybody he knew. I told him--this is something that could get me some attention, then we'll be on our way. He said--no, you've got to do this for everybody. No body is pitching like this, and if you offer a marketplace this could be so much bigger than what you've imagined. It's not just about your one little project. I heard that over and over when I talked to people.
For folks who aren't familiar with how pitching works in Hollywood, can you tell us how it has traditionally worked?
Pamela Schott: There are three kinds of pitches. There's the elevator pitch, where if you ever happen to get in an elevator or face to face who can make a decision about your script, you give them that one sentence re. "This is Jaws on wheels" or something which will grab them, and so they'll tell you to send them your script. As recently as ten years ago, a couple of sites popped up where you could pay to upload a one sentence summary. Producers come, and read your logline--as what it's called. Or, you could use traditional mailing, where you solicit material--which usually ends up in the can. They don't ask for it, they don't want it. What MyVisualPitch.com does is it takes that idea, brings it to life in that 30-60 second visual pitch or trailer, and evokes an emotional buying decision, which is people buy based on emotion and justify later with logic. It drops the producer right in the middle of the action, and helps them to see beyond a one sentence summary -- and find that needle in a haystack. There' a statistic that says what people buy is 55 percent visual. So just in that, this is a superior way. It's also a visual medium, to pitch to a visual medium industry.
What's the difference between a producer trolling through YouTube and what you offer?
Pamela Schott: Our site is searchable -- if you're looking for something specific by genre, and artist, you can go through and be very selective about the content you're looking at. You don't need to type in keywords--though you can do that. You're going from YouTube, which has a hundred million uploads trying to find that needle in a haystack--to where, because we're subscription based, we attract a higher caliber of artist, we tend to get people who have won screenwriting competitions. We had one group which had won, five years in a row, a number of screenwriting competitions--from Sundance on down. No luck with their script. They came to us, we made a visual pitch for them, shopped it around, they shopped it around on their own, and now they're in production on the movie. Five years via the traditional route, and then they came to MyVisualPitch and were signed within a month. Because we have that subscription, that barrier to entry, we have people who are really polished, who are ready to go to the next level, so the content therefore is much more relevant to what the industry is looking for.
What's the model behind the subscriptions?
Pamela Schott: We have four different revenue streams for us. The top two are subscriptions--about 60 percent of our money will come from subscriptions. The site is moving towards consolidating a subscription plan, $15 for up to three pitches. This includes online auditions, film scripts, and movie pitches. It's all inclusive. $15 a month will let you do three uploads for six months. You can do additional uploads for $5 a month more, and it is a six month subscription commitment. The next part of our revenue comes from our visual pitch creative service--so if you don't want to, don't know how, or don't have the time, we can help you create your own pitch for you in house. That's a $495 service. About 15 percent of our revenue comes from our finder's fee--we have a deal with each artist, where if a deal is commissioned from the site, we get a 2 and a half percent finder's fee. And then we reserve about 15 percent for advertising revenue on the site.