Posts Tagged ‘pitch bible’

Pitching my idea. Where do I start?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

You know you have a tremendous idea for a TV show. Now what do you do? What makes a great sizzle reel?

You may be wondering what your next steps should be or what this crew of people in Detroit might be able to do for you. Or why not just do everything yourself. Or, how do you refine your idea and take it to completion at a professional level? Or what is the best format for your idea?

You will find a list of Personnel and a Client List after this summary.


Our Process for Content Development

All our productions are set in a 4-step process that we have distilled over many years.

1. Discovery -We will ask you many questions, listen to your biggest concerns and help set a budget

2. Scope of Work – Once we have enough information about the kind of project we are dealing with, your goals and your budget we write a very specific SOW. This outlines what we will do, a timeline and clear deliverables. No production is ever started until this preproduction work is done.

3. Design – We design the solution. This can be done in Phases.

4. Build – We build the solution. Similarly, this can also be done in Phases. Sometimes when there exists a raw idea that is brilliant but could be taken in many directions, the development of the Scope of Work is actually Phase One of the design step. It is critical to determine best direction before work begins. Otherwise you run the risk of building the house starting with the third-floor chimney. What if you get to the bottom and you’ve missed the foundation?

A serious process for preproduction is needed in order to think truly creatively and deliver you the best possible result. We have developed a process addressing just that.

Scope of Work:

1. Start with a Preproduction Brainstorm

Sometimes when there exists a raw idea that is brilliant but could be taken in many directions, the development of the Scope of Work is actually Phase One of the design step. In these cases, the first step is the  ”Preproduction Brainstorm.”

We offer this process in several levels, and for this work we charge a modest fee. For example, a productive result might be obtained from a two day session with a think-tank style group of  approximately 6 people. Some projects require more time.

It is critical to determine best direction before work begins. Otherwise you run the risk of building the house starting with the third-floor chimney. What if you get to the bottom and you’ve missed the foundation?

The end result is the Scope of Work, a carefully-constructed solution that addresses your idea, your biggest concerns and fits your budget. It is delivered as a detailed, written debrief document.

The SOW document contains such elements as:

  • Our format recommendations and conclusions on best marketing options
  • An outline summary of the show, the hook(s) and the target audience
  • Options for alternative platforms and interactivity
  • 3-5 main character descriptions
  • A description of the environment and the situation
  • A one paragraph synopsis of three shows
  • An outline of and budget for specific technical options for different levels of sizzle reel
  • A profit-sharing proposal: If we move past the Preproduction Brainstorm, we will act as partners, providing cost-level pricing and sharing profits. That is our incentive. If you don’t wish to share any income from your idea, then you can always just pay our full fees up front, as a ‘’work for hire.’’

The value in this process is

1. That your idea is dissected and re-constructed by a handful of critical folks with industry experience

2. That you could actually pitch from this debrief document (though difficult)

3. That you get to know a team with a process and see if we are both a good fit. Then you have the option to continue as partners, with production options at several levels, or to proceed on your own

2. The Sizzle Reel

There are several formats and levels of production that constitute a sizzle reel. These range from still photos to a high-end piece that describes the look and feel of the show.

Once we have agreed upon the format that makes the most sense, we produce, at your expense and with your input, a sizzle reel, outline and other highly developed package elements to be presented to networks and/or agents. We refine and edit client ideas at all levels and there are many steps to completing this process. The experience and attention of our team will guide you through these steps and professionally produce a unique piece that can be put to good use as the centerpiece of a solid pitch for your now-developed idea.

3. Pitching your idea

We direct strategy for and assist with the pitch process to networks or agents. Why do we make this a top priority and work hard to pitch these ideas?

A. We only work with ideas we strongly believe in; the very best ideas presented to us. This since our reputation is on the line as we present them.

B. We have have a financial incentive to promote the property

C. The piece has survived rigorous critiquing at every level and is something we feel strongly about

D. We only handle a limited number of pitches at one time

In all cases, we seek to be the production company on the series or documentary. Should a network insist on a payoff and wish to use their own production company, we will reasonably negotiate in good faith a share of whatever money is made available.

If we agree to take on your project, we require agreed-upon pre-production and sizzle costs to be paid by the owner of the intellectual property. With your input and flexibility,  we will create and package an outline, a sizzle reel and other elements to present and you agree that we will serve as the production company.  In the event that a network wants to produce it themselves, our share would then be derived from funds received for licensing your work.


All creative and business elements must be a good fit for both parties.

Our policy of no surprises includes:

  • Email memos of meetings to reflect status of project and intentions of both parties and well as information to be held in confidence
  • Non-disclosure agreements that outline what portions of your idea are actually confidential. If you have content posted on a website or it is available to the public, it is not confidential, however the use of it in the application you have specified may well be. In every case, we use our best efforts to respect and protect the intellectual property of our clients and partners. All your work must be protected with the Library of Congress before it can be considered by our team.
  • Extensive pre-production ensures that we are working on the correct material in the correct format, aimed at the best possible target.
  • Production costs are clearly defined and agreed to
  • Profit sharing is clearly defined and agreed to if we agree to work with you past the initial consult/SOW. It is based on percentage shares, with each party fairly compensated according to their contribution
  • Data backup, disaster planning and succession plans are all provided for while your project is in progress.


If your idea meets our criteria, we will offer a profit sharing proposition and you will provide us with a share of profits. That is our incentive to partner with you.


Our costs are calculated at a partner level.  Our major goal is profit from the distribution or direct sponsorship of the content we create- both for series and documentaries. For sizzle reels, as for production, we provide a list of line items included and the total cost to deliver a finished product.


A Scope of Work and Media Production Agreement will clearly define all the steps along the way.


Randy Leipnik

Semper Media Group

(248) 561-5176

You have a story. We help you tell it.


Development Personnel


Illustrator, writer and performer

has contributed to such varied media as:

● National Lampoon

writer and artist for over ten years, best known for the cartoon strips “The Appletons” and “Timberland Tales”, in addition to various articles and illustrations.

● Walt Disney Feature Animation

character design for “The Legend of Mulan” and new story development.

● Jim Henson Associates

character design for “Dr. Teeth” of the Muppet Band, “Digit” of the NBC “Henson Hour”, various monsters and illustrations for Henson Publishing.

● Sesame Street

illustrations for the “Character Reference Book”, Sesame Street and Electric Company magazines, ABC – 123 Sesame Street book.

● ABC’s “Home Improvement”

staff writer on TV comedy series with Tim Allen for three seasons (Walt Disney Touchstone)

● Nickelodeon

illustrator for Nickelodeon magazine; writer for “Eureka’s Castle”, Nickelodeon Television.

● Creative Director/Producer

Stunt Pilot Productions, film and television development.

● Production Designer

“Moontrap” (feature film, Shapiro/Glickenhaus) also storyboard, character design; “Liquid Red” production design (currently in post production)

● Animation Art

“9 Simple Steps to Prime-Time Health”, featuring award-winning author, Dr. William Sears (winner of the 2011 Silver Telly, produced by Penczner Media

● Illustration

Scholastic Publishing, Doubleday, Random House, McClanahan, St. Martin’s Press, Workman Publishing, Addison-Wesley, MacMillan Jr., Avon and Mad Magazine

● Awards

Inkpot, Gold Brick, Funny Bone, Ace, four Caddies and the 2010 Reed Award for Political Cartooning.

Michael Whitenack

Executive Producer and Director

Upon graduation from Central Michigan University with a degree in broadcasting and film, Michael Whitenack began a sales and marketing sojourn in the music industry that extended over decades, with stops at RCA, Island Records and finally as Director of National Accounts at Walt Disney Records.

Currently reconnected with his passion for motion picture and television creation, his work includes TV commercial production, remote web broadcast, independent films, reality TV series and the 2010 Detroit/Windsor 48-Hour Film Competition.

Most recently, his showcase series on outstanding eateries in the Detroit area “Dining in the D” was aired on PBS and is rumored to have sent many people quite over the edge of the diet precipice.

Wally Szczubialka

Director Of Photography

Wally’s lifelong goal was to become a creative participant in the film/television production business. Filmmaking was his dream, but he found personal and professional satisfaction staying in Michigan and working in the video and television production world.

He loves to have a goal for a client, to create the visual and audio support to reach the intended audience and to achieve that goal. Each project becomes a “film” to send a message and touch people’s lives. He enjoys the challenge of bringing together all the elements needed to complete a project.

Since 1985 Wally’s roles have included:

● Director Of Photography: DP/ Videographer / Camera Operator for video productions

Broadcast shows, (all major networks and all styles of shooting)

Agency and Corporate programs (Sales & Marketing, Internal Communications)

Documentary style production

● Production Manager:

Responsible for equipment and crew for all location and studio productions

● Editor:

Final Cut Pro editor for specific projects / clients

Chris Carden

Project Manager: Animation

Painter, writer, musician, philosopher, 3D generalist, and social extrovert with a passion for helping people realize their highest potentials. I am a firm believer that we all have the ability to create great new works of art and/or utility without having to step on the toes of others. If there aren’t enough slices of pie, we don’t need to take slices away from others, we just need to bake more pies.

Broad experience in software development, 3D (using Maya), writing, illustration, graphic design,

music composition and performance, and sales and marketing. Focus on disarming bad attitudes with a smile, words of genuine encouragement and recognition of personal accomplishments.

Areas of expertise include:

Graphic design, fine art

Writing, storytelling, storyboarding

Composer, instrumentalist, percussionist

Software: Maya, mental ray, MEL, Python, Perl, HTML/javascript, Java, C++

Technical Writing (documentation, proposals, reports)

Project Management

Technical Sales Support


Sales Training (Modeling, Animation, Rendering)

Randy Leipnik

Project Manager / Producer / Creative Director

Randy takes great original ideas to the next level and on to a timely completion. This process inevitably starts with many questions, and he has concluded that his primary business is listening. The partial client list below is a profile of his work. He started Semper Media Group in 1984.

For the last 30 years, his roles have included: video producer/director, video editor, sound designer, producer of music and spoken word, arranger, musician and sales.


Selected Clients

Semper Media Group and its partners are proud to count the following networks and companies among past and present clients.


Network broadcast services (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) also cable networks including ESPN, A&E, MTV, Nickelodeon, HGTV

● ABC “Crash Course”

principal footage – sold to ABC television as a six show summer series

● FSN “Gatorade Replay the Series”

principal footage – Trenton v Catholic Central

● PBS “Dining in the D”

complete season of episodes on Detroit area eateries

● A&E “Family Jewels” with Gene Simmons

principal footage for Detroit show

● MTV “Mix Masters”

principal footage, Detroit


handle feed from all Tigers games (every year)

● MTV “Celebrity Death Match”

voiceovers for The Undertaker

● HGTV-“My First Place” High Noon Entertainment

voiceovers for host Jill Cordes

● The Public Benefit Corporation

broadcast TV documentary on slavery: “The Hidden Treasure of Gorée Island”

● Hardcore Racing Inc.

sizzle reel & reality TV show pilot on drag racing crew


● People Magazine/

green screen shoot “Who Looked Hot This Week” w/ Carrie Millbank

● Sports Illustrated

green screen shoot: 2009 Final Four-Seth Davis commentary

● The Associated Press

green screen shoot for Motown retrospective

● The Oscars

voiceover for Mauro Fiore clip as he won for cinematography “Avatar”

● Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton

live switch of concert

● Best Buy Mobile/The Grammy Foundation

Kid Rock returns to Romeo High School

● DARPA/Aptima

extensive US military project: classified

● United States Coast Guard

tabletop exercises & multi-agency war games for first responders to terrorist attacks

● Detroit Red Wings/Rovion Inc.

green screen shoot of Detroit Red Wing, Pavel Datsyuk

● Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez Children’s Foundation

fundraiser event for former Detroit Tiger

● Daimler-Chrysler Financial

2 years of voiceovers for online training program

● General Motors and G.M.A.C.

executive video interviews, facility tour

● Cadillac

executive video interviews

● Ford Motor Company

interviews with Bill Ford

● Detroit Lions

player interviews

● Kcraft/Rapido Media of France

video interview with noted author Elmore Leonard

● Subway

green screen shoot with Subway personality Jared

● Marie Inc. – Marie Osmond

live concert video

● Glaxo Smith Kline

physician reviews of medical products

● The “D Show” Awards

Detroit agency awards – live switch

Additional clients at