Ladies & Gentlemen, We Have a Pitch!

Shot07-200AWe did it. We went up the mountain with high hopes, and came down with a pitch. Yay! And I’m proud to say its concise and simple, relatable, and really shows how this story could go on for a long long time. All the things the experts will tell you it needs to be in order to set your show up for success.

But in keeping with my vein of honesty, I will confess that the part in the middle, the part where we actually had to do the work to get to this simple pitch, felt at times like a full scale war with the brain.

We were on our retreat for less than 72 hours but it felt more like 3 weeks. In looking at it after the fact, it is amazing how what seems so obvious and clear now, could be so incredibly elusive before, but as I mentioned in the past, fear is one seriously wiley beast, and it lives for confusing the process.

The thing is, creating a pitch forces you to answer some pretty serious questions: “In one sentence, what is your show really about?” “How is it relatable to the world at large?” and “Why is anyone going to care enough to watch for 7 seasons?” And oh, by the way, the answers to these questions better be seriously juicy and original, because the competition is, well, its best to not even look at the reality of that, because you likely have better odds of winning Power Ball than getting a show picked up, but no pressure.

I’m finding that the key is to simply be more stubborn than your fear (and reality). When you begin your descent into boiling your show down to its most essential component, everything you’ve ever loved about your show, every storyline or idea you have ever wanted to express, will pop into your head simultaneously, and like a bunch of attention starved little kids they will literally be screaming that they are the most important, and although you love them all, you can only pick one. Which one is truly the most important? Which one is large enough to not back you into a corner, but still specific enough to be uniquely your own?

This is the question that has the potential to make you insane, and its also the reason why not everyone can succeed at being a writer. This is what separates the men from the boys, and the women from the girls. Based on what I’ve read, virtually all writers suffer this same process, including the greats, it seems the only difference is that the great writers, the ones we know, never give up. They keep at it like we did, looking at the possibilities from every angle, and suffering the angst of knowing deep down that none of these angles are working, maybe this idea is a turkey, but you keep at it anyway, and then just when you think you can’t go at it anymore, it hits, and you know its right, and all is happy again.

The unexpected outcome of it all is that we didn’t just come down the mountain with a pitch, we came down with a much clearer understanding of our own story, one that makes it much easier to do everything from script rewrites, to creating cohesive marketing materials and on and on. Oh and fear, well, its amazing how much fear goes away when you replace it with a solid, well thought out pitch, that is there for you to read whenever you sink into self doubt.

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #36
When it comes to answering the central question “what is your show about?” be willing to sit in the question and the subsequent discomfort for as long as it takes to get the answer you know in your gut is right.

and

Industry Tip #37
Answering the central question “what is your show about? is a must.

And this week I will leave you with a bit of fun, compliments of a Jerry Seinfeld interview with the New York Times that exposes the absolute ridiculousness of the writing process. Thanks Jerry and the NYT. Much more fun to come.


Pitch Boot Camp Begins Now

Meme_S2E4_1We’re back!! And getting ready to go on a writer’s retreat to get a jump start on this year (pics to follow). Our goal: to come back with a brilliant and engaging pitch for our show.

I’ve got to be 100% honest though, pitching has always scared the daylights out of me. In fact, in the past its been the thing that has stopped me in my tracks. I can create until the cows come home, but when it comes to the selling part I choke. The whole idea that you walk into a room of strangers and have essentially minutes to express effectively what it has taken years to create, just minutes to make them fall in love with your “baby”, and the fact that if you don’t succeed, you are now officially staring directly into the face of a dead end, this is the stuff of those crazy bad dreams we’ve all had. The ones where you find yourself in the middle of a room, in front of every single person you’ve ever known, naked, and every time you go to speak, only a squeak comes out. You know the ones.

Anyway, rest assured fear will not stop me this time. Its not that I’ve conquered it, its that this time I’m seeing it for what it actually is, fear, rather than all elaborate stories and excuses I created in my head to make it look like the obstacles were real. Nope. Its just good old fashioned fear and all there is to do with fear is stare it directly in the face and say “so!”

Already the act of facing it has had me see something I have never seen before: that I’ve been putting all the focus and pressure on whether those on the receiving end are going to like the project or not, like a teenager who just wants to get picked for the team and doesn’t care by who, when the real focus should be on the challenge of finding the right collaborators who are actually looking for something similar to what we have and can help take this project to the next level.

Going out with a pitch is kind of like deciding to start dating. You have to meet lots of people. You tell them your stories and they tell you theirs and you either click or you don’t. There is no right or wrong here. No good enough, or not good enough. Its just about being authentic, open, sharing what you and your project are, and sooner or later finding the right fit.

Like all my revelations, this occurs to me now as more of a “duh” than an “aha.” Why didn’t I see this before? But all I can say to that is that fear is a wiley, tricky little beast. It lies. Regardless, I see it now, and for me, it takes all the pressure off. I now feel supercharged to get out there and share what we have and see who our future partners will be.

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #35
When pitching, remember that you aren’t there to sell your show, you are there to find your perfect team. Do your research and meet as many people as you can.

And without further ado, we are off for our retreat, but this week I will leave you with this great video produced by Film Courage (a great site btw) where Marc Zicree explains the art of pitching a movie idea using the rule of 3. His advice is obviously directed to us entertainment people, but I think it could apply to a lot of other industries as well. Enjoy.


Happy Holidays from Feathers and Toast

Dear SantaAs I sit here, closing up shop so to speak, clicking all my to do’s off the list one final time for the year, and preparing to spend some much coveted time with my family and friends, I can’t help but reflect on the year that’s passed.

For Mhairi and I, it’s been one of those years we will never forget, so difficult but so pivotal all at the same time. For us, 2015 was the year where we were seriously tested “is this really what we want?” and the answer came back a resounding “yes!”

Rather than giving up, we dove in deeper, and the results were festivals, awards, press, representation, loads of new friends, an expansion of the show into a 1/2 hour comedy, and most importantly for us, serious confirmation that the sky was the limit for this partnership.

Despite our cultural and (ahem) fashion differences, Mhairi and I share the same sense of humor, work ethic and undying desire to lift people up, to make a difference, essentially we are on the same page, and as result, our collaboration feels effortless and fun.

Looking ahead, 2016 will be all about expanding our collaboration, by first finding, and then working with, all the amazing future colleagues who will become beloved and instrumental contributors to making our 1/2 hour show the best it can possibly be, and we can’t wait to meet them.

As you know, Tallulah fancies herself a revolutionary of sorts, “Saving the World One Sandwich at a Time”, but what you might not know is that we do too. Like I mentioned in our recent interview with BTR Productions, in a world consumed with bad news, where, even in fiction, darker storylines are all the rage, we consider it a conscious act of rebellion to offer up something light.

In fact, it is our most sincere hope for this holiday season and for the new year ahead that through Feathers and Toast, and the soon-to-be show, Tallulah Darling, that we can inspire you to consciously bring more play and silliness into your life. To put on that hat you’ve always wanted to wear, make that recipe you’ve always wanted to try, reach out to people you’ve always wanted to meet, conspire to make others laugh and just, in general, resolve yourself to have more fun, for no other good reason than just because.

It’s like one of Mhairi’s favorite quotes “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Its completely and totally up to you. Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #34
Don’t give up before you get to the good stuff.

And without further ado, for your enjoyment, a holiday message from Mhairi and I as seen on WebVee Guide’s Holiday greetings. See you in the New Year.


We Are Behind The Rabbit (An Artist Profile)

IMG_5909I’m back from Digital Detox. Weee! And there are so many things I want to share with you in regards to insights about stepping away from the computer and about pitching (which is Mhairi and I’s latest adventure) but first I wanted to share our latest interview as it was just released today.

While we were in New York, we sat down with our good friends over at Behind The Rabbit Productions as part of their Artist Profile series, to speak about the inspiration behind Feathers and Toast and what we hope to accomplish with the show. I think they did a great job putting this together and hope you’ll take a look.

 

 

 

Artist Profile Series – Behind The Rabbit Productions


The Digital Detox

Vacation with captionsBy the time you read this blog, I will already be days into my first annual Digital Detox.

What is that you say? Well it’s a truly low tech week with no texting, or posting, or tweeting, in fact no computer related activities at all, and instead good ole fashioned face to face conversations, hand writing in my journal, and reading of hard copy books, maybe an actual newspaper.

Why you say? Well it’s not out of any sort of protest or judgement against my high tech world. I have no beef with Twitter and Facebook. No need to tell everyone I am leaving because I can’t take it anymore, in fact, the opposite is true. I love my high tech world so much that I get twitchy at the mere idea of what life might be like if I can’t grab for my phone every five seconds to see what messages I might have, and that, my friends, is why I am doing it.

While I love my life and all the tech in it, I can’t help but think its good to change things up every now and again, sort of re-meet myself and my relationship with this world without the crutch of my cell phone. I have no idea what that is going to be like because me and my cell phone have been attached at the hip ever since it became smart. I may go right off the deep end, but since I’m going on vacation anyway I thought it was as good as any time to try.

So wish me luck. This is definitely a brand new adventure. I’ll be back on November 30th fired up and ready to tweet and retweet, share and support, and catch up on all the wonderful things my lovely Feathers and Toast fans have been up to. I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving spent with family & friends, and friends who have become family and that get present to all the wonderful things you are grateful for.

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #32

Do one thing that scares you at least a couple times a year. There’s nothing like changing up the routine and keeping your own self on your toes, to get those creative juices flowing again.

And without further ado I leave you with some more Thanksgiving Day tips from Tallulah. And by the way, what are you grateful for?

(And P.S. You will see some tweets and obviously this Post but only because they were scheduled in advance. I’m not cheating I swear)


Fill That Well Up To The Top Please

CollageJust like a car needs to refill its tank (or charge up) from time to time in order to keep going, so do we. We can’t just keep showing up day after day, working, giving and sharing without ever taking the time to do whatever it is that fuels us back up.

For me that fuel turned out to be New York City. I’m not sure why I was surprised, I mean it was the very city where I discovered I was an artist in the first place so many years ago, but from the second I touched down for our New York adventure, until the moments returning home on the plane, I felt like I had pulled in to the universal filling station and now my tank runneth over.

I’m feeling so grateful for every experience we had. Thankful for the impromptu pitch session with our lovely plane seat mate, Nora, who seemed to genuinely enjoy our show.

Thankful for the construction guy we shared a train ride with who entertained us with his stories of growing up in New York.

Thankful to Mhairi’s dear friend Curt James, waiting on the other end of the train, who immediately whisked us away to dinner and then got us to our final destination safely, while making funny new memories along the way. Carrie Bradshaw!!! (a little inside joke)

Thankful to the lovely Anne Flournoy and her husband Mr. Green who shared their beautiful home with us even though they had never even met us in person before (She is a fellow twitter comrade and content creator of The Louise Log) and all the thought provoking conversations we shared around Anne’s breakfast table.

Thankful for the makeup artist who came to our rescue when we realized our Red Carpet event we were heading to was indeed very red carpety. (If you’re in NY and need to look all glowy and beautiful hire Sean!)

Thankful for getting to spend time with my dear friend Tim Rerucha (my co-star in The Sex Trade) and his producing partner Victoria Cheri Bennett (creator of a great new webseries ADULTish) while enjoying a lovely Italian dinner and shop talk, and the realization of how much we had both grown.

Thankful for the guys at BTR Productions for interviewing us for their Artist Profiles Series, sharing their stories and treating us to a yummy lunch.

And of course beyond thankful to Women & Fashion FilmFest for giving us a reason for coming out to NY in the first place. Their festival and conference far exceeded our expectations. Their films and panels were filled with intelligent, compassionate artists, entrepreneurs and humanitarians who truly want to make a difference in the world and in the lives of women.

The WFF gave me the opportunity to chat with folks like the beautiful, self-described science nerd, Maye Musk, about the important work her son and one of my personal heroes, Elon Musk, is doing. To chat with UN Ambassador Henry MacDonald, the spokesman for He for She, about the fact that, with the help of men, we could reach equality in 15 years instead of 81. And the chance to listen to the oh-so-passionate Fashion Editor, Ise White, who reminded us that we are not just here to collaborate, but to inspire and improve one another through our interactions.

And finally I have to say I was even grateful to NYC for the chance to grieve a bit over the latest incomprehensible act of terror in Paris inside the warm embrace of a city that understands all too well the pain of these kinds of atrocities.

I was left with the desire to read more, explore my world more and to be present to all the amazing things you can discover when you simply give yourself the space to pay attention to what is happening in the moment.

Which brings me to…

Industry Tip #31
Take the time to figure out what fuels your best work/best life, and then make sure to carve out time for it in your busy schedule.

And I’m changing it up today and leaving you with one of Mhairi’s Vlogs instead of our typical videos because this one felt apropos.


Time to Shove This Snowball Down The Mountain

Home_1I started this blog with the bold prediction that its followers would essentially be first hand witnesses to Mhairi & I’s story of “How We Went From Youtube to a Television Deal” and now we are at the point in the journey where its time to hunker down into what I’m gonna call Phase 2 in order to make that prediction a reality.

As a recap for anybody new, we started this journey with a great character (Tallulah Grace) and team, built a web series around our character (Feathers and Toast), produced 2 seasons of Feathers and Toast (as well as bonus content), put it all up on Youtube, went deep into social media promotion, went to festivals, won awards, bonded with our fans, learned from our fans, and then used all that we learned as the fuel to expand the concept into a 1/2 hour show. I’ll call that Phase 1.

And now here we are in Phase 2 and what lies ahead is more good ole fashioned hard work. Our battle plan is threefold: 1) continue to tweak our pilot script to make it the best it can possibly be 2) practice our pitch until it is fun, alive and an accurate reflection of the story we are intending to tell and 3) dive deep into research and networking to discover which companies/distribution outlets would be the right fit for us.

Now because I do like to sleep from time to time, Phase 2 is going to require me to make some adjustments. I’ve realized in order to accomplish all I am setting out to do, my social media efforts are going to have to shift to a plan that’s a little more fast and loose.

Rather than 3 official blogs a week, I’ll be doing 1 a week and keeping you posted in between with shorter tweet/instagram style updates, often times from the “field” (for e.g. the festival we will be attending this week). I’m thinking I’ll even start including some quick videos as well so make sure to follow me @hollypayberg for all the fun. Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #30
Staying balanced mentally, physically and spiritually is the key to long term success. Always be prepared to readjust your daily and weekly goals as needed in order to maintain a healthy balance.

And without further ado I leave you with a little holiday Tip from Tallulah.


Join Feathers and Toast at The Women & Fashion FilmFest

WFF15 Flyer Festival 30 Off FINALIn case you haven’t heard, Feathers and Toast, has been given the opportunity to be a part of this years Women & Fashion FilmFest in NYC (and the online portion of their She Webfest) and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of a festival doing so much to support women.

“WFF is founded on the principles of mentorship. We’re gathering leaders to share their knowledge and stories to inspire younger generations. We’re also focused on creating real opportunities for women and diverse artists, and working to open new channels of distribution and promotion,” states WFF Founder Jeanine Jeo-Hi Kim, emphasizing the social responsibility mission of the festival.

Attendees will include such fascinating folks as Ambassador Henry MacDonald (the UN Spokesperson for He for She), Patricia Field (Oscar Nominated Costume Designer Sex in The City), and Maye Musk (Supermodel, Nutritionist and Mother of Elon Musk)

Needless to say we are packing the hats and are ready to do some serious mingling, so if you’re in the New York area, we would love to see you! Here’s our itinerary so far:

Thursday November 12th
6:00 – 8:00 pm Red Carpet Benefit (Seaport Studio 19 Fulton Street, downtown NYC)

Friday November 13th
6:50 pm Panel on Art & Commerce: Finding Balance (Seaport Studio 19 Fulton Street, downtown NYC)

Saturday November 14th
12:00 pm – 9:30 pm – We will be in and out of panels and screenings all day (Symphony Space – Thalia Theatre 2537 Broadway at 95th)
9:55 pm Screening of Velvet Karma (a film I Edited and Associate Produced)
11:30 pm Live Taping of SNL

Oh alright I just made up that part up about the live taping of SNL, but it looks good on our schedule doesn’t it? If any of you New Yorker’s with connections to Lorne want to hook us up we have made room on our schedule and are happy to arrive in style.

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip # 29
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So we’re asking, wouldn’t it be funny if we got? In honor of that possibility I leave you with a past open letter from Tallulah to Lorne Michaels where she was offering to help him out with his challenge when he was be accused of lack of diversity. 🙂

We hope to see you at the Festival!!!


A Word About Fashion From The Girl Who Wears Flip Flops

Meme_S2E4_1Admittedly, what I know about fashion is not much. In fact, up until about 2 years ago, I sort of saw it as a nuisance. I was the girl who secretly envied Einstein for his choice to not deal with it by purchasing 5 of the exact same suits and essentially wearing the same thing every day. I was “busy” and if I’m really really honest, didn’t see the point in spending so much time on a pursuit I saw as shallow and meaningless.

But yet here we are, 2 years later, and I am about to leave for New York to attend the Women & Fashion FilmFest and She Webfest where, not one, but, two of the projects I’m involved with (Feathers and Toast & Velvet Karma) are being honored. And yes, you heard me correctly, its the Women & Fashion FilmFest. LOL.

How did that happen? Why did they let me, the imposter, in? Well, it all started with the influence of two very lovely ladies.

First there was our own Mhairi Morrison, who, through Tallulah, showed me repeatedly by example that fashion has the power to lift the spirits of not only yourself, but those around you. I have been a first hand witness to the countless joy that has been shared with perfect strangers simply because Mhairi is willing to take the time to pick out and then wear so many beautiful and bold hats.

And then second, I had the opportunity this past year to work closely with my dear friend, jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino. After witnessing the love and creativity Tarina puts into every piece she creates, my view on fashion changed forever.

Not only does Tarina care deeply about what she creates, she also cares about where she gets her materials (she opts to purchase top quality materials from local vendors), cares about her employees (who work directly with her at the Sparkle Factory), and most especially she cares about her customers, whom she genuinely wants to help feel beautiful by offering them a myriad of unique, and eye catching ways to express themselves.

Through Mhairi and Tarina I have learned that fashion can be fun, creative, conscious, giving and inspiring. I now understand that designers and fashion enthusiasts are fellow creatives like me, who are constantly looking for unique ways to express themselves and make the world a more inspiring place. And I have learned that my purchases are far more powerful than I had ever imagined, that where I put my money is essentially placing my vote towards which designers, corporations and practices I want to support. Shallow and meaningless? Not by a long shot.

Don’t get me wrong, I still walk into stores and panic, feeling a bit clueless about where to even begin. So many years of neglect do not get remedied over night. But I would classify myself now, as a student, eager and willing to learn about this thing called Fashion. I might even let go of a few of my flip flops. (But don’t tell Tallulah 🙂 )

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #28

Always be open to learning new things. Inspiration can come from the places you’d least suspect.

In the next blog I will share more about some of our itinerary for our trip to NYC (Nov 12th – 14th) including which panels and screenings we will be attending at the Women & Fashion Film Fest, in case of any of you want to join us. We would love to see you there.

And without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a #TBT Tallulah Talks Back episode where Tallulah warns our viewers that she doesn’t want any of them wearing crocs while watching our show.