'The Voice' Producers Search for Next Big Thing in Pitchfest
Ambitious producers looking to break into the booming reality-TV business, or those aiming to take their local formats global, will get a chance to pitch to one of the best in the business at the Talpa Pitchfest.
Talpa boss John de Mol, creator of such reality-TV hits as Big Brother, The Voice and Utopia, is holding his group's second annual pitching session August 27 to 29 in Los Angeles.
Talpa is accepting applications until July 25 from producers looking to sell their big, new idea to an international audience. Geertje Hoek, head of content at Talpa, told THR that last year's Pitchfest resulted in four format deals.
"Ideally, we are looking for ideas that haven't been pitched elsewhere and are not yet on-air, projects we can partner on as a co-developer," Hoek said. "But we can team up in any way, from full co-development to doing a straight distribution deal, taking a developed format and helping to launch it internationally."
Talpa is both a production house and a global distribution operation and has successfully launched shows like The Voice worldwide. For in-house productions, its model has been to develop and launch shows in the Dutch market first and then take them global.
Talpa has been holding a similar pitchfest in Holland for several years and sees the event as a way of tapping into the creative talent of the U.S. market.
"What we can offer U.S. producers is our global business model," said Hoek. "We have this easy access to international networks so we can get these new ideas on air and sell them worldwide."
For would-be pitchers, de Mol's advice is to "make sure you've thought of everything, from a mathematically correct structure to the unique elements that make your idea a protectable format."
Hoek notes that "simple documentaries or personality-driven reality shows" are nearly impossible to adapt worldwide — making them less appealing for Talpa.
But de Mol's own history could give aspiring producers hope.
"Selling Big Brother and The Voice was not as easy as people may think," the mogul notes. "Broadcasters were reluctant to buy Big Brother because the concept was so groundbreaking; the reality-TV genre did not exist at that time. The Voice, on the other hand, was created in a very familiar genre — talent show — and therefore perceived as not innovative enough ... As it turned out, it is very well possible to create innovative formats within an existing genre at a time when everyone thinks a certain trend is over."
Details of this year's Talpa Pitchfest can be found online at talpapitchfest.com.