I’ve somehow managed to form a genial relationship with a group of folks that acquire material/reviews/articles for a series of high profile web sites. They are friendly, organized and they pay well and promptly. However, the people they acquire for – I’ll call them the “end-clients” – are scattered, indecisive and, as we solemnly say in professional writer circles, “stupid heads”.
The first project I contributed to, which involved about two dozen other writers (in other words, a huge outlay in content cash) was meant for a “branded entertainment and experience” style web site. I did my work – spectacularly well, I might add – and sent it in. About a week later, I received my sizable check. Not three to six months, a week!! Seriously, working with these guys was just pure joy from start to finish.
Weeks later the end-client’s web site was “launched”. So far, I have yet to meet anyone who has been able to make it work. This “branded entertainment and experience” was little more than a blank page with some interesting borders and a few errant buttons. For want of both “entertainment” and “experience” I contacted my acquiring friends, who glumly informed me that the site “wasn’t the cleanest execution of the solution”. I took this to be their professional and diplomatic way of saying “Yeah, they screwed the pooch, big time”. So, I can’t put that project on my resume, because no one can go look at the damn thing, but hey, great payday!
So, I was more than a little excited and in distinct ready-to-please mode when my acquiring friends next contacted me and asked me to pitch ideas for Oscar articles for another web site. They specifically asked that I get a little creative, avoiding the “we already thought of that” caliber of ideas. It was further revealed that the web site in question encouraged delectable writing latitude, that not only allowed for mouthwatering edginess, but also warmly endorsed “R rated content” (my favorite fucking kind of content, bitch).
So I promptly cooked up four fucking awesome pitches, which I’ve posted below along with the shattering feedback from the end-client:
1) “Oscars Night – From the Statuette Perspective” – A first-person narrative by an Oscar statuette going from the crate, to back stage, then briefly stolen by a perturbed and desperate Martin Scorsese (“I’m not letting you stupid heads snub me again!!!”), recovered after a short chase by Angelina Jolie with a judo chop to the solarplexes, carried on stage by Salma Hayek, cradled against her bosom in a memorably intimate way, and finally awarded to some guy for the special category of “Sound Editing in a Central American Documentary on Endangered Tulips”.
END-CLIENT FEEDBACK: “I don’t get it.”
2) “The Perfect Oscar Program” – A short, guy-leaning narrative of what I
believe would be a killer Oscar program, enriched with unabashed opinions
and biases that should be shared by most guys (and open-minded women). Example:
The curtains rise. Starting a new tradition, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Jack Black and Ellen Degeneres battle it out in a dodgeball free-for-all to decide who gets to host the show with the “Rocky” theme playing in the background.
The “Best Supporting Actor Award”, traditionally the first award given out, is replaced by Salma Hayek appearing in a dress with a neckline down to her bellybutton, who awards a lifetime achievement to her own gravity-defying, anatomically unlikely chest, followed by a 10 minute highlights reel of the same.
Pulp Fiction is awarded the retroactive “Greatest Film of All Time” award.
The show closes with a tribute to car chase scenes.
A sloppy drunk Natalie Portman booty calls and invites me to the Miramax after-party, but I decline because I’m already on a jet to the Bahamas with Jennifer Aniston.
END-CLIENT FEEDBACK: “I don’t get it.”
3) “If I Ran the Oscars” – A bullet-pointed list of “improvements” I’d make if I produced the show and served as the on-site, live-program content authority. Example:
Acceptance speech time limited to seven seconds
Instead of music interrupting long-winded acceptance speeches, Mickey Rourke would be standing by with a cattle prod
Salma Hayek would host every year for the rest of eternity
The only dancing interludes allowed would be “dirty” and “pole”
No commercials – unless they feature Salma Hayek or movies starring
When someone wins, a waiting stage hand clips an acrobat’s tether to them and they are vaulted directly to the stage by a pneumatic pulley system, so there’s no stopping to hug, kiss and shake hands with 27 people on the way.
New award: “Best Nude Scene”
Every time someone starts proselytizing, I slap a giant red button and they drop through a trap door into a vat of hollandaise sauce
END-CLIENT FEEDBACK: “Why Salma Hayek?”
4) “The Oscars Two Million Years BC – A Recap” – Using cave drawings and carbon dating, paleontologists have extrapolated the chronology of an Oscars ceremony from the distant past. Example:
The host, Krag, comes out and does a short, humorous monologue on the recent spate of saber-toothed tiger attacks on catering trucks.
Woog wins “Best Screenplay by Homo Erectus”, but refuses the award to protest the industry hiring Neanderthal writers to save on operating costs.
Gruck McQ wins the “Best Fire” award.
Wildly popular musicians “Rocks and Sticks” perform their original song “Ungh!”
Controversy erupts when Me Like Coconuts wins “Best Film” over the favored Genital Scratching Academy III.
END-CLIENT FEEDBACK: “I don’t get it”
Needless to say, I’m a teensy bit exasperated. Why ask for creative pitches when anything more inspired than “How to Throw an Oscar Party That Really Rocks!” is going to be met with terse perplexity? Furthermore, which web site hired a content editor who’s Creative Instincts Placement Exam score should have seemingly pointed them to a career of re-shelving books in a basement in Wyoming?
Well OK, to be fair not everyone is going to get/appreciate/like my brain splatter – I have yet to figure out why, but I’m told that this is what I should say in order to sound “open-minded” and “reasonable” – but these lazy, abbreviated bits of feedback, which seem to indicate that the client didn’t actually read the entirety of my pitches, is downright defeating.
So what would a “good” writer do? Continue to pitch, using my supposed professionalism to conform and home in on the client’s needs? Or do I simply write these people off since we are clearly not making even a passing connection and I’ve got better things to do than sweat over ingenious pitches for half a day that seemingly aren’t being fully read or absorbed?
One thing’s for sure, failed pitches aren’t a complete waste of time. Look how they filled up a whole blog entry! Fuckin’ A!