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Ventana Sur: The Gersh Agency’s Roy Ashton Talks Pitching 101

BUENOS AIRES — Roy Ashton, responsible for packaging and selling projects to markets and operators such as Amazon for Hollywood’s The Gersh Agency, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about the process of pitching successfully to the U.S. market ahead of a script workshop he attended Tuesday afternoon.

Ashton emphasized the draw of storytelling on an international level. “It’s so important now to have a global perception when you are a writer or producer,” he remarked.

He added: “The TV community is becoming very small now because people from all over the world are getting shows, and you can make a show locally that can go around the world. It’s a very good time to be in this business,” he remarked.

The masterclass, How To Sell A TV Series, was part of the Ventana Sur Fiction Factory strand, held at the UCA campus in Buenos Aires on Tuesday morning. The event acted as a liaison between Ashton and established Latin American talent as well as those who had won contests through INCAA, Argentina’s film-TV board.

Ashton shared his insights into how writers can successfully market their ideas for television and deliver on expectations set by U.S. executives. Having a unique angle, a personal connection to the material, and the ability to be open to different directions the executives might suggest topped the list.

“The standard is higher now,” he said. “Writers need to have a personal connection to what they’re writing. It makes the buyer more comfortable that you can write this for seasons to come.”

Listing “Friends” and “Modern Family” as examples of exemplary television, Ashton also focused on the importance of strong character arcs and casting. “With ‘Friends,’ that show got just massive ratings, it was the last great show on American television from an overnight ratings standpoint, and it was those characters, you loved those characters,” he said.

Ashton went on to relay recent trends in the United States, to include strong family-driven shows like “This Is Us,” and female-focused scripts in the wake of the #MeToo movement, like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“They want to see something new, something different, that’s where you want to go,” he added.

When asked how a new writer might begin from scratch, Ashton advised, “one of the things that this organization does, you guys have government support which is fantastic because you can actually build something and that’s your calling card.”  He went on: “We have writers programs, the Nicholl Fellowship, enter all of those, reach out to producers, come to conferences like this. I’ve been in conferences where I pick up clients, keep knocking on the doors.”

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