LOOKING FOR LOVE? Pitch it! Ruth Lawrence Interviews Angela Antle

angelaantle web LOOKING FOR LOVE? Pitch it! Ruth Lawrence Interviews Angela AntleRuth Lawrence: Well Angela, it’s time to turn the tables. As the former host of Weekend Arts Magazine for CBC Radio St. John’s, you’ve often interviewed me. But your career has taken a new direction.

Angela Antle: I think my career path has been going down this road for sometime…obviously, two decades of producing CBC Radio and Television has given me an incredible foundation. Even my work as a visual artist has come into play in helping me create program ideas and collaborate.

I was ‘bitten’ by the program development bug while serving on the CBC’s Network Radio Program Development Committee. That experience gave me the skills and confidence to start pitching my own ideas and ultimately led to the co-creation of Majumder Manor and more recently the TV dating format Looking for Love.

And I may be back to interview you again, Ruth…so consider yourself warned! The CBC has graciously given me a leave to pursue these opportunities and I am so appreciative of their support.

RL: So you and a co-producer just won a pitching contest?

AA: It was hosted by MIPFORMATS in Cannes, a lead-in to MIPTV. My co-producer on Majumder Manor - Stuart Coxe – sent me the contest notification. We’d talked about creating a TV program based on an article I read about online dating. Over a weekend, I locked my office door, ignored my motherly duties, and we honed that pitch. The prize was $33,000 of development money from Warner Brothers International and if chosen as finalists, we’d get to pitch in the Grand Palais at Cannes. I was overjoyed that Looking for Love (L4L) was one of the 6 international concepts selected for the live pitch contest.

The rules stipulated that only one of us was allowed onstage to pitch, and truthfully, I was happy to tweet backstage while Stuart sweated it out. He is an incredibly skilled ‘pitcher’ and even though I wasn’t on stage, it was crucial to have a partner to create the overall pitch. I am grateful to collaborate with Stuart; he’s very creative and a great mentor. Here’s an interview from right after the live event…don’t be fooled…normally I am a lot more talkative! I was pretty floored that we had won.

RL: You look blissful there! Did your producing experience prepare you too?

AA: I’ve been working for two years on Majumder Manor, a docu-soap that will air on the W Network. It’s a 13-episode series following comedian Shaun Majumder’s quest to transform his hometown from a sleepy rural outport to an upscale luxury tourism destination. That led to the pitch because I co-developed and co-produced MM with Stuart Coxe (and Take The Shot Productions of St. John’s).

Stuart and I spent five weeks shooting on the beautiful Baie Verte Peninsula last summer. It was intense and challenging and we learned to rely on and trust each other. Pitching and winning L4L has further solidified that – I hope to create many more programs with Antica Productions.

RL: In retrospect, was anything you learned a help or hindrance?

AA: Ha! The first thing that pops to mind is “ignorance is bliss.” Seriously, if I had known how huge that contest was or how many broadcasters and producers would be in the audience, I might’ve been intimidated. I watched last year’s contest on YouTube…but until you go through it, you can’t know. Frankly, until I attended MIPTV, I was blissfully unaware of how many other people are out there pitching. Aside from the contest, I would advise anyone in TV to attend MIPTV. Fill your schedule with meetings and go there, guns blazing – some of our meetings were 10 minutes, some were 45. But we made it worthwhile, we pitched several projects to international broadcasters.

In terms of advice, find a strong collaborator and look for the opportunities. Most of the TV festivals (Banff, New York Festivals, etc) have pitch contests.

L4L was a strong idea and as long as we created a clear and entertaining pitch, I felt we’d have a good chance. If an idea falls flat, adapt it, and re-pitch. Stuart and I both come from a news and current affairs background which is perfect for unscripted TV formats – our program ideas are generally rooted in facts or current trends – they have a ‘hook’ built in.

RL: What was your main strength as a team?

AA: So many factors helped us win: Stuart knows how to pitch. He was the only presenter who asked the audience a direct question and he has a lot of experience in unscripted programs (Dragon’s Den, Make the Politician Work, Wipeout) so he handled the judge’s questions very well. Because we formulated the idea as an international TV format, it had to be crystal clear and easily understood by an international audience; that made the pitch very strong. Our sizzle, an animation created by Perfect Day of St. John’s (pday.ca), was fabulous.

Watch the animated pitch here. The password is guest1.

RL: Well, you won! What happens next?

AA: A major Canadian broadcaster came up on stage after the win and asked us to submit the format to them. We have and are now waiting to hear if the show will be produced first in Canada. The win opened so many doors at MIPTV; we had producers and broadcasters pitching us and we are following up on those leads.

RL: I mean, what are you up to right now?

AA: I’m an active board member for SJIWFF – I’m watching submissions for the 23rd annual St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. We are expecting over 500! I am working with our incredible staff to build up the industry event that accompanies the festival. Keep your eyes open for some really exciting guests this year…you may even want to book your flights now for October 16-20, 2012.

RL: Having done it in my interviews with you, I appreciate the final plug! Thanks Angela, I can’t wait to go Looking For Love with you.

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