Renaissance Man Sells Idea for TV Show
The TV Writers Vault congratulates Writer/Member Stephen Reichel of Brooklyn Center, MN. on the sale of his reality series concept to Buck Productions, Inc. In his multi-faceted life of unique professions and talents, it only makes sense that he would add “selling a tv show” to his list of accomplishments. Stephen is a musician, actor, bodyguard, investigator, and can now add “Writer-Producer” to the list. He shares with us some of his experiences at the TV Writers Vault, and the process of selling his project to Producers.
[Details of the project will be shared once it is cleared of current confidentiality restrictions.]
From the Interview…
“As in life, to be successful in this business you must have a plan of action- a clear view of your goals, and an effective vehicle to make that happen for you. The TV Writers Vault IS that vehicle.”
UPDATE : Reichel enters into deal with Neon Television with project now under consideration at Discovery Channel. Previously he has sold pitches to Fremantle Media and Buck Productions via the TV Writers Vault.
Scott Manville: Stephen, congratulations on the recognition and deal you have at hand with your projects. You must be excited.
Stephen Reichel: Thanks Scott! I really am excited. This has been a great experience for me. Writing and creating is a real passion, and I am grateful everyday be able to grow and learn as a writer. This is a process that continues to evolve with time. I have found that it�s ok to fall down from time to time, as long as you pick yourself back up again and keep going.
SM: Absolutely. You’ve been a member of the TV Writers Vault for about 6 months and suddenly you’re being contacted by Producers pursuing your projects, and you have a contract on the way for one. What do you think made the difference for you to finally find some success? Did you submit new projects? Were these new companies that hadn’t reviewed your work in the past?
SR: The difference is consistency, just keep working and putting your work out there. So many writers may build their first idea, and it doesn�t get off the ground so they get discouraged and quit. The key is DON�T QUIT! You have to take the hit and keep going.
For me, I just kept writing along with my Wife, Mara, who is a great researcher and creative element to this process. If I feel that a project has merit, I place it with the TV Writers Vault and let it roll. I know it�s in good hands! New ideas should be in play at all times!
SM: How many projects do you currently have archived for review at TVWritersVault.com?
SR: I believe I have 5 or 6 currently but I am ready to place a few new ones soon!
SM: What was the activity like on the projects? Did you get reviews and requests on all of them?
SR: It took some time to get the reviews started. As soon as I gained some momentum, good things started to happen. This goes back to what I was talking about earlier, you have to have patience and understand that this is a very competitive industry, so you must not lose focus.
SM: So you’ve got a contract on the way from one Production company, and you’re in discussions on a few others. Did you ever think it was possible?
SR: That�s a great question Scott, I really didn�t know for sure. I knew I loved the process and was determined to keep writing no matter what. There was a small voice in me that kept whispering in my ear saying �This will happen, this will happen� and to my surprise it DID!
SM: If I remember correctly, we did some consulting/development work on one of the projects. How was that experience for you?
SR: That was a really awesome experience Scott. I was honored to work with you on that project and hey- that�s the project that just got the deal! Whaddaya know man, you ARE good! But seriously, you offer so much through your consulting/development process that I think everyone should take advantage of it, and often. With your experience in this industry it is a MUST, especially for new writers to work with you. I know I have a new one that needs to be �Manvillized!� Call you next week?
SM: Thank you. It is a fun process when its a good project. On the marketing/pitching side, can you share with us a few things you may have learned going through this process- about the Industry, or how to approach projects?
SR: The one thing that really jumps out at me when you ask me this question is �Don�t be afraid of a little rejection�. Not everything you write is a masterpiece. I know this may sound harsh but MAN! Some of my early attempts were really bad!! And of course I thought I had something that would have made Aaron Spelling green with envy�ummm- not so much. My Wife Mara is a great proof reader for me, she is a no nonsense Italian girl from Chicago that does not mix her words., it�s either good or terrible, fix it. No middle ground. I found this to be really helpful on many levels.
What I have found with the industry was interesting. Some producers are jaded and hard to pitch and others are very approachable. If you have true passion for your project and it comes through in your pitch, you stand a much better chance of having that individual listen to you longer and not shutting down on you. I call this �Pitch for your Life�.
SM: What do you think makes one project or concept stand out among the many that don’t go the distance?
SR: I think it starts with HOW you write. Is the treatment written well? Is the structure correct? Can you read it and quickly visualize the idea in your head? I believe it to be like writing copy for a product, if you don�t capture their attention in the first 10 to 15 seconds then they will pass on the remaining text and move on to something else.
I also believe that you must do your homework especially in reality TV writing. If you don�t know what is current, what the trends are and what�s hot and what�s not on TV, then how can you create something timely that will sell? Producers keep their finger on the pulse of everything. Like Stephen King said; �If you don�t read all the time, how are you going to be a good writer?� In our case, if you don�t pay attention to TV trends, how are you going to be current?
SM: When conceiving ideas, how do you think and what do you look for?
SR: Well, here is a typical session in the Reichel household; My Wife and I sit around tossing ideas back and fourth writing everything down as we go. After some high level negotiations (And a few bribes) We usually have a handful of possible ideas that we feel will work. We then go to the computers to do research to see if there were any similar ideas in the past or to find relatable content that will help give us perspective. After the research is finished, I go to work putting it all together.
That is our �Systematic� way to create a treatment, there is another way however that I am fond of as well � I call it the �Jack Kerouac�, and that is me and my computer or note pad just writing whatever leaks into my brain. Sometimes it is all nonsense and I can�t use any of it and other times it�s ok and I can start to filter from there.
I look for what is NOT being done on TV, or what needs to be done BETTER.
SM: If you could share any insight with Writers and Concept creators who haven’t used the TV Writers Vault to pitch projects, what could you tell them?
SR: I would tell them that as in life, to be successful in this business you must have a plan of action, a clear view of your goals and an effective vehicle to make that happen for you. TV Writers Vault IS that vehicle. Unless you have well established contacts and have had prior success�well, even then, people don�t stay in place, you need exposure to as many decision makers as possible and TV Writers Vault is the place for that.
SM: And what would you tell the naysayers… those who don’t believe its possible?
SR: �Aww Yes, the naysayers� I am so glad you asked me this, I have a strong position on this subject, let me jump right in if I may�.
Any time someone makes a bold statement either by their words or their actions, it creates a situation to where others can (and will) criticize you. If you are in business and are going for that promotion, others will try to hold you back- at the very least talk about you behind your back. The same is true in this business as well. For me it was even more pronounced because there is no one in my family or circle of friends who have EVER attempted to write for TV�ever! When I told people about my first project and how it was picked up for a development deal the reaction I got was �Frosty�. People were kind of dismissive and would change the subject right away. Most of the people I know just don�t get it- and that�s ok.
I will tell you this about me, the people who gave me a hard time about this are no longer in my circle of friends, I have learned a long time ago to only surround yourself with people who can help you, teach you and will love you for YOU, all others need to hit the bricks as far as I am concerned. Life is too short and I plan on making this second half of my life as good as possible.
SM: What have you enjoyed most about what the TV Writers Vault has to offer?
SR: Scott, there are so many things my friend. For starters, the site is really user friendly, I found that the process was a piece of cake to set up. The other thing that is to me the most obvious is how professional it is and how well it delivers results. The informational emails you send out are awesome, especially the interviews you have been doing with the TV execs, really great stuff! These people are giving writers a blue print and saying; �Ok, now you know what we want, go out and write something!�
SM: You’ve been a member for quite a while, and have experienced every facet of our service. Give us an idea of how we can make it even better? How would you like to see us expand or refine our services?
SR: Well, it�s hard to improve on this Scott, it works so well. I would say to just keep the decision makers inspired to stay on the site and to keep reviewing work. I like everything about it!
SM: Well, it sounds like you’re going to have an exciting summer. Keep us up to speed and let us know when the Network pushes the button! Thanks again for your dedication to your projects, and the TV Writers Vault.
SR: Thanks very much Scott, I really am honored to have done this interview with you, I am humbled everyday by the level of talent there is out here and to be able to position myself to win is amazing to me. I am grateful for everything you do. Thanks and keep up the great work!