A slice of reality: Pitching to Bravo’s Andy Cohen
When Bravo’s Andy Cohen, senior vice president of original programming and development, takes pitch meetings, the folks doing the pitching are pretty high up the media food chain. After all, Mr. Cohen is a key green-lighter of programs like The Real Housewives of, oh, Atlanta, New Jersey, L.A.… and Top Chef… and Work of Art. Last year, as a supportive alumnus, he visited COM to speak with students where the crowd was standing room only. This year, on Nov. 2, when the rest of the nation was voting (or should have been), Andy Cohen attended The Creative Producer course (FT325) via Skype to hear pitches from Film & Television students.
And why would he do that? Well, Andy has been enormously helpful in providing guidance to both the professor and the students in terms of what goes into a reality program. And as it turns out, it takes a lot of hard work, an enormous amount of research about the market and competition, and the willingness to take complicated ideas and make them clear, exciting and sellable. But that was what the students in The Creative Producer class had to do. Andy was kind enough to hear some pitches and then give honest feedback for four reality show treatments.
And what did the students take away from this experience? How about if they answer in their own words?
What was the best part of pitching to Andy Cohen?
“Duh… He’s Andy Cohen! He’s huge right now and for him to take the time out to meet with us was awesome.” — Malia Rose (’11)
“EVERYTHING! Andy Cohen was so personable and down to earth. He gave us great feedback and you could tell that he really wanted to be as helpful as possible.” — Emily Schwartz (’12)
“The best part of pitching to Andy Cohen was that he gave us constructive criticism. He told us what worked, what didn’t work, and how we could improve in our areas of weakness.” — Michael Pogarian (’12)
“I think the best part about pitching to Andy was the opportunity to see (as horribly cheesy as this may sound) a master at his work. I immediately got the impression that Andy knows what he’s talking about. I’m still struck with awe and it’s been more than six hours after the pitch… It was kind of like pitching with training wheels. We got to ask questions afterward that you wouldn’t be able to do in real life.” — Emma Belli (’12)
“He was completely supportive of what our class was doing and wasn’t afraid to give us honest feedback. I heard he was a very nice person and he really was very easy to talk to, but I really liked that when I was finished pitching, he was straightforward and told me what worked and what didn’t work. I didn’t want him to sugar coat anything, and he didn’t.” — Matthew Bae (’12)
What was the hardest part of pitching to Andy Cohen?
Hands down, everyone agreed: “Nerves.” “Nerves.” “Nerves.”
“The hardest part of the pitch was getting over our nerves and sounding confident in our projects for Mr. Cohen.” — Rose
What did you learn from this experience?
“I learned the importance of being prepared. He mentioned a show, which we didn’t know about despite our research. Also I learned that you have to be a quick thinker. When he told us that the hotel idea had been done we said have told him how ours was better and different.” — Belli
“I learned that it is incredibly important to know what shows are like the one you are pitching. This includes those that have failed in the past, and those that are being produced right now. Knowing what is going on in the industry is imperative when preparing for a pitch.” — Ariel Levine (’12)
“I learned about how important it is to do your research when finding out if a network has already done a similar project or is in the process of developing a similar project. I also learned how important it is, when the show is character driven, to have a video of the talent or have them personally attend the pitch to prove that they are worth the networks time and money.” — Pogarian
Do you think this was a good opportunity?
“Absolutely. It was one of the highlights of my time here at BU and something that I definitely won’t forget. It’s one thing to hear about the industry and pitching to TV executives, but to actually get the chance to pitch to someone in the industry was phenomenal. This project was stressful at times and high pressure at other times, but I really enjoyed it and I think it’s taught me a lot about how much work goes into these packages and how much time you need to spend thinking of the perfect idea and turning it into reality.” — Bae
“This was a great opportunity. Very few people can say that they ever pitched to Andy Cohen. It was a great learning experience and truly priceless.” — Emily Jachimiak (’11)