The 40 Day Networking Challenge Begins Now

Shot08-022AYou know that whole saying “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes”? That’s right where we are now in our journey of “How We Went From Youtube to Television Deal.” It’s time to make a major change.

There is nothing like simply declaring that you will achieve something, to put you on a collision course with the very thing that has always stopped you, and, for me, that thing is networking. Boom. There’s my road block. Only this time its got flashing lights and a not so subtle sign across it that reads “Make no mistake, there is no avoiding me.” I might have been blind before, but now I see.

I can see that I have spent the past 20 years completely satisfied with my own excuses that “I am just not that good at the networking thing.” No need to try. Not my area. And instead, wildly overcompensating in the areas of creativity (writing/producing etc), all while attempting to convince myself, and anyone who would listen, that as long as I’m good enough at my craft that my lack of networking skills won’t matter.

The trouble with that is, its just not true. Networking really does matter. And avoiding it will only lead you to becoming that weird lady who could have been.

The even harder truth is that I have had several projects over the years that likely could have gone to television. Great projects, created with some amazingly talented people, but as always, when it came time to sell I had no people I could sell it to. I let them and myself down.

I hadn’t spent the time to build relationships with industry execs, and as it turns out, industry execs don’t spend a lot of time listening to the ideas of people they don’t already have relationships with. They have plenty of creators they do have relationships with and they are busy listening to them.

So what did I do about this? I went back in my shell and created more.

Starting today this pattern is over. Done. I owe it to my amazing co-creator Mhairi, to our show, to my family & friends who have been rooting for me, and most importantly to myself, to once and for all face this fear head on and win.

In light of that decision, and in light of the fact that this is way past due, I have decided to take radical action. I have cleared my schedule and will be committing to a 40 day challenge.

The plan: for the next 40 days I will meet as many industry executives as possible (and that includes everyone from executive assistants to studio heads) and spark relationships with them that I will then maintain for a lifetime. Like the oh-so-brilliant Shonda Rhimes, I am going to starting saying Yes! (Thank you Shonda – deeply and truly)

Does this scare the bejeezus out of me? Hell yes it does. But am I going to do it anyway? You better believe it. I welcome any and all support. If you have someone you think I should meet, please share. If you’re a fellow artist realizing you are just like me, get on board.

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #38
Content creators must spend at least 33% of their time actively building a network, or they will have no one to share their work with when its done.

And without further ado. I leave you with this great interview from BTR Productions where I share what its like being a female comedy writer in Hollywood and why I am so excited about our show.


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.


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)


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.


Stop What You’re Doing and Eat a Sandwich

Meme_S1E6_9Alright so I was going to write to you today about how excited Mhairi and I are for our upcoming trip to the Big Apple, but as it turns out that is going to have to wait because it’s National Sandwich Day people!!!

This day is our opportunity to show our support and wrap a proverbial hug around all our sandwich loving friends and those who make the sandwiches for them. These are the people who will help us in our mission to “Save The World One Sandwich at a Time” and we simply can not just gloss by that.

Not after all the effort Tallulah has put in to helping people prepare themselves a proper sandwich and look good while doing it. I mean, look at all the sandwiches she has shared with us. There was the good ole PB & J with neon, the travel Pita with a pencil skirt, the left handed banana sandwich with a side of gloating, the Ham Sandwich thwarted by a Can Can dancer, and who could forget the classic Tomato Soup Sandwich in the style of melodrama (she researched that).

No darling, Tallulah would want us to stop whatever we were doing, pop open the champagne and take the proper time to offer up a toast to all the well dressed, peace spreading, sandwich lovers everywhere! And so that is what we are doing. To all you glorious sandwich makers and eaters across the country, we salute you! Happy #NationalSandwichDay

Which leads me to…

Industry Tip #27

In the social media game, if you can find an organic way to jump in on what is trending, then do it. Trends come and go quick, and if you don’t make a few quick adjustments once in awhile, you’re gonna miss out.

So now we have to ask: what sandwich will you be eating today? And what outfit will you be wearing while eating it?

And without further ado, in honor of #NationalSandwichDay we leave you with the Classic Tomato Soup Sandwich in the style of Melodrama.