Writer / Creator Matthew Arnold Gives NYFA Students Advice on How to Pitch for TV

The writer and creator of “Siberia,” “Emerald City,” and “Shadow People,” Matthew Arnold, visited the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy on Monday, February 27, 2017. Students from several writing classes attended the event.

matthew arnold

Arnold read pitches for each of his most recent projects and gave students advice on how to refine their pitches. “I like to do a little research (before a pitch), so I have something to talk to the executives about….

But for ‘Siberia,’ I did something different. I went in and said, ‘Have you seen this new thing going around YouTube? There’s this reality show in Russia and people are being killed. They think it’s Chechen rebels.”

Arnold said this pitch would often get Executives to call in their assistants and request to see the videos. When he revealed that this was not a real occurrence, but the pitch for “Siberia” they were already vested in the project. The end of that pitch was this: “We’re going to do for TV what ‘The Blair Witch Project’ did for film.”

One student asked, “There’s a long established relationship with the world of ‘Oz’ for most of your audience. How did you create something new and not damage the source material?”

matthew arnold nyfa

“I think that’s the big challenge. To be honest, I didn’t have this thought when I first sat down to write it. I was just excited to write. But when we got into production, I realized there was a huge responsibility on me. People have a certain feeling about the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ They have childhood memories and beliefs about the story. It really irks me when someone takes the source material and go left, keeping only the names. What’s the point of that?

So, I wanted to dig into the source material more and kind of translate it. If you read those books they are very vague. You have to infer that this would be a problem and hence there would be a conflict. That’s where you get the complexity without necessarily tampering with the source material.”

The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Arnold for taking the time to speak with our students. You can watch “Emerald City” Fridays on NBC.

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Published on: March 13, 2017

Filled Under: Guest Speakers, Producing, Screenwriting

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