Here’s my all time favorite success story:
When I was teaching in the UCLA’s Graduate Producer Program, my final was “Pitching to the Pros.” I brought in panels of three industry pros – an agent, a studio executive and a development executive. We heard over 30 pitches in one night.
The next morning, I got a call from one of the agents. “I’m sure you know why I’m calling,” he said. “I’m sure I do,” I replied, “But why don’t you tell me anyway.” Hey, who knew what had hooked him. Although I had a hunch. It was the one that intrigued ME.
“It’s X. I think it’s an idea for a movie. I think you and Debra (the producer who’s company I was running) should make it. I think I can sell it.” I actually thought this was a very solid concept for a film. It was what I call a “Hooky Idea,” but it was just a concept; two great sentences, twelve words that the agent and I couldn’t get out of our minds. The aspiring producer hadn’t been able to flesh out the story on his own.
When I pitched it to my boss, the big producer, as the agent suggested, she liked it but felt it was just a concept. “What’s the story? Who are the characters?” she demanded. I agreed, but was convinced there was a movie there. “Prove it,” she said. And I did.
We developed the idea and we turned in a 10 and half page treatment to the agent that he sold it preemptively in four hours to Warner Brothers for low six figures.
This quiet, aspiring producer, who had sold his car to be able to afford to move to LA, who had persuaded his girlfriend to leave everything behind and come with him, who was taking the bus to my class, now had an agent, a major producer attached and a studio deal.
The sale was so splashy that it landed on the front page of Variety. The concept so intriguing that the local CBS affiliate sent out a reporter, sending a cameraman to capture the formerly struggling student as he rode the bus to school. The story turned into a five-minute human interest/entertainment piece. Which itself won a local Emmy. The reporter now works for CNN.
And the student got the girl to marry him too.
What was the amazing 12-word hook that got this all started? The 12 words that leave you utterly intrigued with the possibilities? Here’s how to find out:
Read the article from the front page of Variety:
Watch the video:
“Barri Evins has had an indelible impact on my life, both professionally and personally. She helped me get my first job in the industry, taught me the ins and outs of the business, supported and encouraged me in my career, read and critiqued my screenplays, helped me land an agent, and was even instrumental in finding me a wife. Now that’s a full-service mentor! Throughout it all, Barri’s insight and advice has always been clear, honest, and endlessly helpful. Her caring for her students and mentees knows no bounds, and she takes genuine pride in seeing us do well. Anyone would be lucky to have her ear, her mind, and her heart to help them find their way to success.”
Jeffrey M. Howard, Burbank, CA, Writer of Planes, Planes: Fire and Rescue
“I took Barri Evins’ Big Ideas Seminar a few years ago, and can see now what a turning point it was for my writing (no pun intended… although, that kinda works). Her passion for storytelling combined with solid structure know-how was conveyed in a way that has stayed with me, and definitely brought things to the next level in my career. Inspiring, uplifting and highly practical; I came away with tools that have served me well since. I’d recommend her workshop to anyone serious about writing; whatever stage of your career and craft, Barri’s work will help you go deeper, farther, improve your storytelling exponentially.”
Erin Donovan, Los Angeles, CA Writer on The Enemy Within, NBC; The Mentalist, CBS; A Tale of Two Thieves, Netflix documentary
I’ll keep adding more Success Stories.
There’s room right here for yours.