Why The 3 Ring Binder Of Evil? One Big DON'T in Pitching Your Project

***Some of you subscribe to my mailing list and may have seen this post, but I’ve been getting a lot of outreach from the community regarding best practices around pitching your project so I thought it important to share this with the wider community.

I was just visiting with a buddy of mine who is a development and acquisitions exec for a big digital platform. On any given day he is pitched 30-50 projects. That’s 250 pitches a week this one individual and his team sees. 90% of them don’t make it out of his office alive, and the other 10% make it to the next phase of the decision-making process where maybe one or even none those will get green-lit or just kicked deeper into the development process.


Having pitched a gazillion projects in just about every building that houses a distributor in LA, Chicago, and New York, I’ve had my fair share of dud pitches. Over the years I’ve learned to economize my verbal pitch and pitch materials, but even then, few get made into anything and end their days in a folder on my desktop simply called “The Junk Drawer.” But at least twice a year, I get the green-light and get to have my project made into a pilot or better yet a series. In part due to the fact that I have been around long enough to know what distribs look for. In the end, they simply want to be able to get the gist and core points of a project in under three minutes.

Always curious why projects die before they ever see life, I asked him, “What’s the one “DON’T” producers and creators make when they submit a pitch?” His answer was simple, direct, and to the point. He reached into the trash can beneath his desk and pulled out a beautifully designed project binder and plopped it on his desk. He simply said, “This.” It was bound with brushed aluminum and printed on the highest quality paper. It looked like a coffee table book. Its thump on his desk drove home the point. He let me leaf through it (I was under NDA so he felt comfortable doing that). It had costume illustrations, plot charts, backstory for each character, a season of scripts and storyboard art that rivaled Frank Miller (Sin City). It most likely took months to create if not a year and cost some poor creator a second mortgage or at least a max’d out credit card. It never got opened, never got read and never stood a chance.

Then I asked him to show me one he said ‘yes’ to. He threw a set of documents that totaled six pages in front of me. Still well designed, but but super economical in it’s message.

So if you’re considering the Three Ring Binder Of Evil to show buyers how organized and thorough you are as a creator, let me talk you off the ledge. It’s WAAAY easier than that. Simply, it’s a 1-sheet, a Power Point deck, and a 2-3 page treatment to get your project well down the rad. All that other stuff comes later (without all the brushed aluminum).