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One Lesson I Learned From Playboy

Posted September 28, 2017
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Hugh Hefner is dead. 

The blogosphere is filled with memories of people's time with him. 

I was not so fortunate.

The closest I came to Hef was the stack of Playboy magazines that I secreted away at the age of 13, in my closet, at least until my sister found them and ran through one of my parent's dinner parties holding the open centerfold over her head.  

My only other close brush with Hef came many years later, when Lisa and I were at MIP in Cannes, France.

MIP is the bi-annual worldwide television trade show, where all the producers and buyers meet up to, well, buy or sell.

Lisa and I have gone there often, sometimes as program sellers, other times as buyers. On this particular day we were buying content for one of our clients.

And that is how we met Mr. X.

As part of MIP we actualy gave a one hour seminar on how to produce TV shows cost effectively.  MIP is filled with these trade show seminars.  It's a good place to meet people and to get known.

We had about 30 people in the seminar, and when it was over, we were approached by a balding, middle aged man who clutched a notebook as though it was the record of his life.

"Excuse me..", he said fairly timidly.

Lisa and I exchanged glances. Another nutter.  MIP is fileld with them. While the first floor of the Palais is taken up by massive media companies like Discovery or The BBC, the top floor is filled with individual producers sitting at card tables schlepping their wares.  Some of it is not bad. There are some real treasues sometimes in the Indy world.  This guy did not look like a treasure maker. He looked like a schlepper.

Never the less...

He began his spiel.

He had spent the past ten years making what he felt was THE definitive documentary on The Life of Adolf Hitler.

(This is not exaclty new territory).

He had also paid for it himself.  This must have cost him a fortune.

In any event, now it was done.  And he was hoping to sell it to The History Channel.

Here was a man with a passion.

He had had no luck with The History Channel, or anyone else for that matter, and he wondered if we could take a look at it and give our opinion.

He handed us the DVD.

There are times when you feel a sense of pathos.  We felt sorry for him. I did not know what he did in real life, but probably not much and he had probalby spent every dime he ever made for this home made  most likely mess of a documentary.

But, as I said, it was his passion.

Now, no one in the TV business actually makes an entire film or series or even pilot to pitch to a network.  That is no way to get a deal. You only make a minute or two to give a sense of what the series could be.  The network is your partner. It's their air time.  They want to work with you and you want to work with them.

Clearly, this guy, for all his passion, was a rank amateur.

Trying to be kind, we said to him, "What do you do when you aren't making Hitler docs?"

"Oh," he said, "I have had a contract with The Playboy Channel for years to make all of their content."

This caused me to pause even longer than I had when my sister had paraded my porn collection to my parents' friends.

"You what?"

"I produce all the content for the Playboy Channel. Have for years."

This struck me as a kind of dream job.

"And you would rather make Hitler documentaries"?

"Oh yes.  Lemme tell you, after a while, the Playboy thing gets boring. Same old, same old, if you know what I mean. But Hitler? Now, THAT is interesting."

"Well, best of luck", we said.  "And by the way, just cut it down to a 1 minute pitch reel. You'll do much better."

"You think so?"

Learn about making pitch reels here.


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