The word dating brings up all sorts of feelings and emotions. Maybe you remember your first date when you really liked the person and you were hoping everything would go smoothly. I remember a time I had a first date and I was so nervous that I barely ate. So I ended up leaving that date very hungry.

Well, this past week I went to Tru’s Writer-Producer Speed Date, and while I was just as nervous as I was on that first date, in no way did I leave hungry.

What is TRU?

TRU stands for Theatre Resource Unlimited. Their mission is “TRU was formed to promote a spirit of cooperation and support within the general theatre community by providing information and a variety of entertainment-related services and resources that strengthen the capacity of producing organizations, individuals producers, self-producing artists, and other theater professionals.” While TRU primarily focuses on producers, musical writers often have to be self-producers, and so you will find many writers there as well. Bob Ost, the Executive Director, is even a writer himself.

I would, first of all, encourage you to check out TRU. As writers, it’s important for us to learn to produce our own works, and learn what producers do, so we can spot a bad producer from a good producer. Finally, we need to be where producers are. I know that the biggest producer in town optioning your work is the dream, but being in a community with the up-and-coming producers will warrant more success. Our peers today will be the leaders of the industry tomorrow.

Our peers today will be the leaders of the industry tomorrow.

What is the Writer-Producer Speed Date?

So, this past week on March 6th 2022, I participated in Tru’s Writer-Producer Speed date. I would highly recommend it to anyone on the next time around. Now, I’ve been a part of pitching to Broadway producers in the past, and I always felt like it was a long shot for anything to happen out of it. I also didn’t know what to expect.

However, at TRU they not only provide you with the opportunity to meet 11 different producers, but they also provide you with tools and coaching to make your pitch night a success. They also bring producers that love the educational aspect of the pitch night and genuinely love meeting new writers. So, even if you don’t walk away with an option, which they tell you not to expect, you walk away with a better pitch, new ideas, and a bigger network.

MusicalWriters Festival speakers Macy Schmidt Drew Gasparini

How does it work?

Getting Ready

So, here is how it works. Writers submit on their website to be chosen as one of the writers that receive the opportunity to pitch. The submission form is fairly simple, and I believe it is a way to prepare you for the pitch night. Once accepted, TRU gives you their elevator pitch guide. It outlines the perfect pitch, from how to start and finish. After that, TRU assigns each writer to a coach. The writers are instructed to write out your pitch, send it to your coach, and your coach gives you feedback.

You are also instructed to send a handout which is essentially a pitch deck. This is a great opportunity for you to put together a pitch deck, and see how effective it is in front of producers. The producers get a packet of all the pitches before the pitch day, so they have a reference to who you are. There is also a tech check a day before, where you can make sure everything in zoom works alright for you.

TRU gives the writers a list of all the producers in the order that the writers will speak to them. The team encourages the writers to research each individual one, and it is better if you tailor your pitch to them individually. It also helps familiarize yourself with who you are meeting, so you know what you are getting yourself into, so to speak. We had a wide range of producers from those who are more on the developmental side of producing, to well-known commercial producers that had Broadway musicals and plays under their belt. Some producers produced off-broadway, while some produced regionally. It was certainly a diverse group and was very beneficial to hear what they had to say.

The Speeddate

Then, it is showtime! Tru schedules for an hour coaching session with your coach and a few other writers. The coaching session is unbelievably helpful, because not only do you get feedback and get to practice your pitch, you get to hear from other writers and learn from them as well. This is what I love about our Pitch Night. Our pitch night is a part of the Academy Reading Series process and will be happening on Facebook Live on April 14th, 2022. We are stronger together, and we need to learn from each other. I also love to hear what projects everyone is working on, and what is out there.

After your coaching call, you have an hour to fine-tune your pitch and get ready. Then, you hop back on a zoom call. The stage manager sends you into a zoom room with a producer and an observing producer. Observing producers are important not to miss out on, because they may have some great opportunities to send your way as well. So, as soon as you get into the room you launch into a pitch that can only be 2-min long. After your time is up, you get a message and the producer has 2 minutes to talk and ask questions. Then, the stage manager sends you back into the main room. Writers refresh for a minute and then do it again 10 more times.

What did I learn?

I’m so grateful for this experience. I can accurately pitch my show and I’m ready now to be stuck in the elevator with a Broadway Producer. However, I also learned a lot, and what surprised me was how many ideas I walked away with. One producer gave me an out-of-the-box idea of developing my show, a few of the producers gave me tips on how to improve my pitch, and a few gave me some easy fixes on my handout that could help my pitch deck communicate better to the producers. I also had a producer ask me about the other shows I was working on, which I hadn’t worked on a 2 minute pitch for, and now I know I need to be able to more accurately explain it to those who ask as well.

Why should you participate?

I would highly recommend this experience. It’s important to be able to talk about our musicals in a pitch format. The pitch helps us analyze the main points of our show, our themes, and the benefits of our show from a producer’s perspective. How is a producer supposed to sell our show, if we don’t know how to sell it ourselves?

How is a producer supposed to sell our show, if we don’t know how to sell it ourselves?

Also, our pitch is a perfect excuse to use our writing ability. Producers will not only judge what you say but also how you say it. One of the producers mentioned that if you haven’t hooked him in the first 15 seconds, then he won’t be interested. If you only have 15 seconds, then you better be ready! Another producer said that if it was a comedy, he wanted your pitch to be funny. If it’s funny, then it shows them that you at least have some ability to write comedy. Your pitch shows the producer not only about your show but who you are and what your writing ability is.

So my challenge to all of you is three-fold.

  1. Go to Tru‘s website and get involved. Start with their weekly gatherings on Fridays. Each Friday they allow you to introduce yourself. Who knows who you are going to meet?
  2. Work on your pitch and pitch deck (need help? Click here). Dive deep and figure out why someone would want to produce your show, and make sure you have a way to say it that showcases who you are and what your writing ability is.
  3. Seek out opportunities to practice your pitch. Be where the theatre is made.