Producer Oliver Goldstick to Keynote PitchCon (Exclusive)

Oliver Goldstick
Oliver Goldstick
 

Last weekend Oliver Goldstick, executive producer of the hit ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars, was visiting his hometown of Detroit to attend a funeral, but at times it felt like he was back in Hollywood.  “People were pitching TV show ideas to me over the casket,” he says.

On May 9, people will be pitching ideas at Goldstick again, but in a more appropriate forum. Goldstick will be the keynoter at NATPE/Content First’s Pitchcon 2013 in Beverly Hills.

While he will be talking about his own career in a question and answer session with journalist Ray Richmond, Goldstick says he hopes to also hear from the audience of aspiring television writers and content producers.

“We’re so insulated in this business,” says Goldstick, “that I’m lucky if I can get off the lot some days for lunch, so I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say.”

What Goldstick will not be doing is accepting any scripts or treatments. His contract with Warner Bros. forbids that, he explains, because there have been so many lawsuits.

His advice is to get proper representation -- an agent or lawyer -- who can help pave the way to have the writer’s work seen.

And the key to success, he notes, is to have things to show, what he calls “a portfolio of work.”

“Know what you want to do,” he will tell these aspiring writers and producers. “Have a clear goal of where you want to be. What are the shows that get you excited and that you want to writer an episode for?”

“You have to know how to market yourself,” he adds. “You have to ask where would I sit in this universe? Where does my sensibility best exist? So I encourage people to have self-awareness and know where they can get a foot in the door. You don’t even have to have a TV spec script. It can be original material, such as a play. My background is in theater.”

After he left Detroit with a degree from the University of Michigan, Goldstick did graduate work at Columbia University in New York, where he had plays produced off-Broadway. One of the actors in two of his plays was Phil Rosenthal, who became his buddy and writing partner.

Rosenthal went on to create and executive Everybody Loves Raymond, while Goldstick worked on such shows leading up to Pretty Little Liars as Coach, Caroline In the City and Ugly Betty.

The worst thing a new writer can do is try to be cynical and write what he or she thinks is hot at that moment. “That’s a recipe for disaster,” says Goldstick. “You will have HACK on your license plate before you know it. We all have to draw on our own experiences and perceptions of the world and how we came to it.”

Pitchcon will take place over two days. On May 10, NBC’s reality show Fashion Star will be honored with the sixth annual Innovator Award, which will be accepted by executive producer Ben Silverman, CEO of Electus.

At Pitchcon attendees receive help with preparing pitches for shows they want to sell. This year NATPE has also partnered with Sell Your TV Concept Now, a mentoring service led by Mark and Jeanne Simon.

They also helped create the Hollywood Player Pitch Contest which is open to all attendees. The top 25 pitches will have a chance to go before a group of industry judges and win prizes including four meetings with “high profile media executives”

Other topics this year include crowdfunding, developing reality TV show ideas and how to operate in a multi platform world. The full schedule is available at PitchCon.org.

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