IFH 138: How to Sell Your Idea to Television

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SPECIAL SUNDANCE EDITION of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast

Today’s guest cracked open a door to a part of the industry I had no idea about, television. Matthew Doyle is a television lit agent at the Verve Talent and Literary Agency. 

He’s an up and comer in the industry and definitely a hustler. My co-host Sebastian Twardos and I wanted to get an “in the trenches” perceptive on the television market and Matthew delivered. He tells a great story on how he got promoted to an agent with a prank by the partners at Verve. Here’s a bit on Matthew Doyle:

Doyle joined in January as Verve’s first off-desk TV lit coordinator. He implemented a new system for information flow and tracking, redesigned current grids, and helped lead Verve to its most successful staffing season ever, with 80% of clients staffed on broadcast and cable shows. He has been an aggressive recruiter, interviewing and training new employees.

Worked with up-and-coming clients such as Arkasha Stevenson and Kirk Sullivan on the television side, and has played an important role in signing clients staffed on upcoming series such as “Pitch” and “Riverdale.” Challenges of the job? “Recognizing that everyone is the protagonist of their own story, and treating them accordingly,” Doyle says. – From Variety – 10 Assistants to Watch 2016

All of these Sundance Series episodes are co-produced by Sebastian Twardosz from Circus Road Films and Media Circus.

Enjoy our conversation with Matthew Doyle.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Hi, I'm Alex Ferrari.

Sebastian Twardos 1:04
And I'm Sebastian. And we are here with Matthew Doe, who is an agent at Verve Thank you, Matthew for for doing this.

Matthew Doyle 5:42
It's my pleasure to be here.

Alex Ferrari 5:43
Now I heard through the trades that you just had a really great promotion. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Matthew Doyle 5:48
Yeah. So it the way it works that verb and pretty much any agency is they don't tell you when you're gonna get promoted? Right, which is torture, it's torture.

Alex Ferrari 5:59
It's like being on death row. Like you don't know if you're gonna put it in a positive way.

Matthew Doyle 6:02
Yeah, it's, it's brutal. And you're stewing and myself, I felt in my mind that I deserve to get promoted, which has nothing to do with whether you will get promoted. Like life in the film business. Yeah. So yeah, there's no it's not fair at all. And but I was hoping to, and we had the holiday party for the company. And if there was one last chance to get promoted, it would have been at the holiday party. And I knew this, they had this video that they showed of all the agents, parents, sort of talking about how when they knew their child was going to be an agent, and they didn't

Sebastian Twardos 6:43
know you were going to be an agent.

Alex Ferrari 6:44
That's an awesome.

Sebastian Twardos 6:46
We knew Matthew would be an agent as soon as they will.

Matthew Doyle 6:50
Parents and they're really old, and it's great. Yeah. Then the video ends and then starts up again, and my parents are on the screen. And you're at

Sebastian Twardos 7:01
the end, like tortured you all the way to like

Matthew Doyle 7:04
after I actually was it by that point? I was having I wouldn't other people got promoted before you you were the last No, no, I was I was the only one promoted to agent. So the thing was happening, and I was watching it, and it was poignant, whatever. And then my parents come up, and they start talking about my childhood. And it's really kind of weird and awkward, awkward. I thought it was emotional. And then they said that, Matt, you're an agent. So it's something that the partners had spoken to them about weeks beforehand and kept the quiet for me and kept it quiet. Wow. And they aged them. They aged in my parents because my parents did a video, and then they call them back and they're like, does great love it perfect. We need to do is maybe like a little bit shorter.

Alex Ferrari 7:54
Right? That's great notes. So they

Matthew Doyle 7:57
gave really good notes. My parents were like, wow, they're the nicest individuals is like your you were? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 8:06
So explain what agent being agent is, again, it's just basically notes and like

Matthew Doyle 8:09
that whole convincing someone to do something without making without them realizing that they're being convinced to do it or offending them.

Alex Ferrari 8:17
And that's an art. Yeah,

Matthew Doyle 8:20
it's being but yeah, yeah, it is. It doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Alex Ferrari 8:23
Okay. Okay,

Sebastian Twardos 8:25
so what kind of agent are you now?

Matthew Doyle 8:27
I'm a literary agent for television. I represent writers and directors in the television business.

Alex Ferrari 8:33
That's now when I mean, I mean, we talk a lot about indie filmmakers. And I know there's a lot of indie filmmakers now that are trying to go into television and trying to do series. And do you think it's smart to do a kind of spec, you know, spec episode of a show, like as a proof of concept or something like that? Or is it better to just create a Bible? Or what would be the process? What would you suggest?

Matthew Doyle 8:54
Well, yeah, actually, if you have the finances to create a spec episode of the show, I think that is really smart. Okay. And I there are several examples of that, that that have worked out example. The first example would be a show that aired on TBS search party. Okay, the way that happened is now the talent involved was more substantial than probably where most people are starting out. Sure. But the way that happened is, they made that for on spec, a short pilot for like, maybe $10,000. And they use that as a proof of concept, or series. And then it was off of that they were able to take the TPS and say, This is how it's supposed to look, this is the style of it. And that gave the executives a better understanding of

Sebastian Twardos 9:43
oil drawdown is this people who have already succeeded in the business.

Matthew Doyle 9:47
They i don't know i'm not sure I'm trying to remember the writer director or the creator was there are people who were already established enough. But the point is, if they hadn't done that, It would never would have been bought it was only when they made it that they were able to get people interested. Isn't sunny It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia that's another example he did that to his right yeah that's another example

Alex Ferrari 10:11
right I remember that I remember that story hitting because it was done very low budge who was did they have the stars there yet

Matthew Doyle 10:16
or no but yeah it was all I mean they weren't stars then Rob Mac divito wasn't with them at that point no gaming like the second or the third season. Okay. The network wanted to add some star power to it. That originally was just Charlie de Rob mcelhenney Kaitlin Olson, so they weren't, they weren't stars. Yeah, not at all. They made it up to cons and it was really, really lucky because they brought it to a net to FX right at a time when they were open and willing to engage in something like that. It's rare it's, it would be surprising if a place like HBO, for example, were to purchase something like that, but TBS when it purchased the search party, and I'm asked I had nothing to do with that. This is just through what you hear through the grapevine and stories remember, but they are in the process of trying to rebrand themselves. So when TBS the fact that TBS is trying to rebrand themselves makes it perfect for them to take a risk on something like search. Pardon me, like, okay, we see you trying to do something different. And we want something different. So we'll

Sebastian Twardos 11:19
listen. Here's the real question. Are you actually watching produced spec? pilots?

Matthew Doyle 11:25
I would 100% watch pretty spec pilot, I would probably watch a produce spec pilot. If we read them before I would be more excited to watch it. Yeah. Because that they're putting their money where their mouth is? And the rolling the dice. Yeah, it's it's indicating their ability to execute their vision. And if they can't do it, then it'll be apparent from

Sebastian Twardos 11:48
but that's that's the question that I worry about. Like sometimes you might be better on the page than if you actually produced it if you didn't have the resources that somebody like you might be used to seeing.

Matthew Doyle 11:59
Yeah, you're right. They it depends on who's doing what if you're a writer, director, you have that ability. And then I mean, the fact is, if you want to be a talent, you should be self aware enough to know how to realize it, whether you need to bring in a director or whether you need to bring in talent and not accident yourself. So if you can execute it on your own and that's that's just a learning experience.

Alex Ferrari 12:25
Now as a package, let's say I go out and shoot a spec spot, a spec. Yeah, let what else should they have a Bibles? Should they have a series The first season written? What else should they bring?

Matthew Doyle 12:34
That is a general rule having the most you possibly can well, it used the way it used to be is in broadcast television, it's a pitch driven business, you would go in and you would talk about an idea and it would be 30 to 40 minutes. Even our like bloodline for which sold to Netflix was like a two hour pitch. When that sold, and it was epic, and it was detailed. Recently, television has become as in like the fat five past five, six years, television has become a spectrum in business, as in people actually write the show. And then they take it to the network's right. But it's a spec script pile. Exactly. Now, the reason it didn't used to be that way is because if an artist executes the scripts, and you take to the network, they buy it, what else is there for them to do? The value of the network executives is in shaping the script and giving notes. So usually networks, executives are not willing to engage in that. And right now, the spec market is glutted for television. Everyone has a spec pilot and wants to take it out, especially from baby writers. It's not as unique and interesting, as it was, but like True Detective, and like 2011, whenever that sold, that was a spec pilot, and they had a pilot, they had a series. And they had the stars attached, of course, so like that was essential. packaging.

Alex Ferrari 13:58
So but so so so gluttony right now of spec scripts right now. So if you had a actual spec pilot shot, it pulls you above, yeah,

Matthew Doyle 14:06
it separates you. In the same way that probably having a spec four or five years ago separated you from the crowd. It was it was something different, right? Because

Alex Ferrari 14:15
it was pitch before Yeah. And then it was if he had his back, and now we've taken it. Yeah, exactly. Now how I mean, obviously the streaming networks and Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, how has that affected your job your business because obviously there's so many more options and opportunities for your clients. But how has that affected the market in general that you've seen in your experience? Well, it's

Matthew Doyle 14:35
an important thing to say is, from my perspective, I'm just starting out my career. So I have my own thoughts on like the industry, but it's important to keep in mind that my position of someone who's in the trenches,

Alex Ferrari 14:51
that's that I want I want your point of view and I want your point of view from the trenches from that

Matthew Doyle 14:55
from the trenches what it its place like Netflix. You sell a show to Netflix. And the first thing I think about as a representative is the fact that there, there are so many shows on there. And the marketing push, it seems the marketing push by each behind each one is significantly less. So you can sell a show at Netflix and it gets lost in the crowd. It's a crowded ecosystem. And as a representative, that's scary because all you want for the artist is to add value to the network and undeniable way which gives you which gives them leverage and you leverage for them to use in the marketplace and get them the best possible deal. Whereas with Netflix, and with Amazon, when you make a deal with them, they are very generous in their series orders, but they buy out all the territories and they own it till the end of time. So the amount of money you can make is capped at the very top front. Exactly. So you're not going to make the amount of money you would have made had you sold it to a traditional broadcast network or even like a traditional cable network. For example.

Sebastian Twardos 16:09
How do you find clients

Matthew Doyle 16:14
regarding being in the trenches as being in it? As much as I can, the which means what it means you

Sebastian Twardos 16:27
work you work like like mad. So where do you find people that you want to represent?

Matthew Doyle 16:35
Okay, here's an example. All I can do is go through examples of the peoples who were actually my clients. Yeah, so I represented a writing team Tanner being Katie Mathewson, their staff writers on pitch, right, which aired on Fox. So I used to work at web, which is a larger agency web represents Dan fogelman. It was a big name showrunner guy, he had reached out to wV and made them aware of his assistant, young Tanner lighting, this guy's great, you should check him out. I saw and then the email is forwarded to the apartment. And I made it I my goal is to read everything as just read as much as I can. So I read it, and no one else did. And I know no one else did, because no one else reached out to him. And I read this thing. I was like, this is really good. And I met with him. I just reached out to him cold. And I liked his personality. He had great relationships, he understood the business. He had a writing partner. And that's how I got involved with him.

Sebastian Twardos 17:37
So you think it helps to work in the business a little bit before? Before

Matthew Doyle 17:41
that question, that question there, there, you do need to sort of it helps to understand how it all works. That was that was one example. And you know, another example is there's a client Hoover represents named are cautious Stevenson, who has a film at the festival. And she made a fit, she was a graduate of ASI. And as an agency, we became aware of her through screenings of that. And if you're as an as a representative, you want to have your finger on the pulse of everything. And the way to do that is to go out as much as you can, to industry events, to screenings to watch anything and everything there is established. So

Sebastian Twardos 18:32
does that mean you're going to like, you know, like USC first look, or to NYU screen? Yeah,

Matthew Doyle 18:36
absolutely. Yeah. 100%

Sebastian Twardos 18:37
does exactly doesn't mean you go to a lot of film festivals, not just Sundance because this is the obvious one. We're at Sundance, by the way. Yeah, yeah. Right. We've never actually said that. What does that mean? You go to other film festivals to smaller ones. I mean, are you actually

Matthew Doyle 18:50
doing that would be Yeah, that's, that's the ideal, but yeah, and also being intelligent about it. And you can't do everything for you try and do as much as you can. And eventually, just, if you're a pinball machine, you're bouncing around, you're going to hit things and create analogizing it's not like

Alex Ferrari 19:09
it's a really good No, it's a good analogy.

Matthew Doyle 19:11
If you're if you're engaging, then you're going to establish relationship with people and you're going to understand what their ambitions are. And as an agent All I care about is what people want to achieve in their own lives and that's just not for artists that's for executives as well and so my conversation with people always come to that and then when you find that out you think of ways of how you can help them

Sebastian Twardos 19:35
so you let me let me just I just want to get this right because I'm very cautious about people actually producing a spec pilot. So against I'm not against it per se I'm cautious because it's a lot of money to do that. It can be is is it still mostly that you are reading like are you most of me

Matthew Doyle 19:54
oh yeah sample seeing spec pilots. I

Alex Ferrari 19:56
hardly hard because there's no it's a rare thing, right? It's a rare thing.

Matthew Doyle 19:59
Yeah. Whereas I'm assuming that you happen to have the money to make it and the

Alex Ferrari 20:03
talent and the infrastructure and the gear and the people and the talent. And

Sebastian Twardos 20:07
then I'm also worried that, you know, you're you're worried about expectations, because when it comes to the page, I mean, if people are just writing or typing, that's it, it's cheap. It's really cheap to do. So it's it's more democratic in the sense, I mean, but producing a spec pilot either takes a lot of money, or you have to fill it with people that are names. And so my question is, are your expectations?

Matthew Doyle 20:30
It depends on pi, it depends on your goal of who you want to be. There's some writers who all they want to do is, is just right, and that's fine. And then for that purpose, it makes sense to just put it on the page, and have it be undeniable. There's some people want to be writers and directors. And if that's the case, that having a spec pilot

Alex Ferrari 20:51
is an excellent, right, it doesn't hurt. And I mean, I personal experience, I worked on a spec pilot, where I did a lot of post on it, and they spent 50 60,000 had some names in it. That's

Matthew Doyle 21:02
insane. It is,

Alex Ferrari 21:03
but it's not. That's what happened. That's why because they did it at a very high level time they had, they had some faces in it, but nothing, no major stars, some TV faces, and it went nowhere. And I was just like, why and it wasn't that bad. But I was like it just because

Sebastian Twardos 21:17
my question is ultimately My question is, it has to work on the page. So why even go to the process of producing it? If it doesn't? There's,

Alex Ferrari 21:26
from my point of view, I'm on both sides. I'm both sides

Sebastian Twardos 21:30
by when he's the agent. What do you think of that?

Matthew Doyle 21:33
It depends on what you're watching.

Sebastian Twardos 21:35
If you if you if you nail it on the page, shouldn't that be enough?

Alex Ferrari 21:39
But if you produce it on the film on film, it just takes that edge up to the next level.

Sebastian Twardos 21:45
So do you believe that? If you have a will or should it just work on the page?

Alex Ferrari 21:49
You're not there's no wrong answer.

Matthew Doyle 21:52
It'll work. Right? Exactly. It only has to work. If it doesn't work on the page, it's not gonna work as a produce pilot. But if it works on the page, and you produce the pilot, it will probably get more attention Sure, than if it's just a script.

Alex Ferrari 22:06
But this is a very unique scenario. Yeah, it that's the thing, which I think that's what's the fastest trying to say the idea

Matthew Doyle 22:11
of an everyday see $1,000 produce pilot that no,

Sebastian Twardos 22:14
you know, you're what I'm trying to say. And there's something different. I believe that should work. I'm worried because a lot of our audience are newer to the business, right? Yeah. So. So you have to be really careful about what you're like telling them to do or not do. And I sort of believe that some people, though, write a script, and for whatever reason, the scripts not getting traction. So then they think, oh, I'll make it. And then it gets traction. And that's not necessarily the case. No, you're right. And so the so it's all it's about getting good advice. I mean, the right people. If you go to the point of making the script, I think I think you should have any

Matthew Doyle 22:55
good script. Yeah. of attraction.

Alex Ferrari 22:57
Let me just ask you one last question about this. And then we'll move us how many spec pilots have you seen that have gone to show to network installed?

Sebastian Twardos 23:06
It's not that many I don't think has any spare? Oh,

Matthew Doyle 23:09
you're talking about something that was written, written and produced? Oh,

Alex Ferrari 23:16
that you know of, besides the tubes?

Matthew Doyle 23:18
I know, I know, there are more examples of this. There. There have to be right. But there aren't a lot, I don't think okay. Well think of it this way, like, and I maintenance goes on Vimeo, those made by a writing and directing team. Vimeo, no one went to Vimeo for watching original content. And then they did for high maintenance. And then they went to HBO. Now, if you're talking about that, as a spec pilot, which I would consider, I mean, there's a spec like series, that's an example of that search party as well, for my understanding, it's always sunny. And that's where my knowledge of it ends.

Sebastian Twardos 23:55
Because I don't think there will be more in the future. I think there will be more, I think it's not something that happens often. Yeah, I don't know. Do you? Have you ever?

Matthew Doyle 24:03
It's, of course not. It's not the norm now. But if your goal is to stand out, that it will make you stand out, but by doing that, that's all Have you heard

Alex Ferrari 24:13
of any feature films that were later turned into a TV series off of like an indie film like, Hey, this is a great concept. We love the indie film. Let's turn it into a series if the if the creators decided to go down that

Matthew Doyle 24:25
route. I know they're examples of this under the lights, I'm gonna blank on it, like truly great examples,

Sebastian Twardos 24:31
but you would look at that. That'd be good. Okay,

Matthew Doyle 24:33
so we're not considering Friday Night Lights in any film, right? I'm sorry, you're not considering Friday Night Lights and indie film? It's well, it's just not so we can't No,

Sebastian Twardos 24:40
no, no, no, that's because that's me. I think I think the bigger question is not I don't like putting on the spot for specific examples. But the question is, would you be open to watching indie films that you would do setting with

Matthew Doyle 24:55
that question? Sure. Like I mentioned earlier, a client are cautious Stephenson Yes, a verb. She's a filmmaker through and through, yeah, she has a voice. And as a graduate verifies she, her goal is to make feature films, what she's made our short films, those short films, we've gotten her attraction in television, we sold an original idea that she had simply because we all descend the short film saying, This is who she is, this is her voice. And people want to meet with her because of that. So if there's a voice there than on the television side, I can figure it out. I know I can. And I'm from my position. I'm a street urchin. So but I can, I know, I know, I can figure it out. If it's undeniable voice. And I don't care whether it's a drawing, or play or a short film, or a feature length film, I don't care.

Sebastian Twardos 25:47
Can I ask a little bit about like actually selling a script? Like, what kind of money is involved in that? Is it usually scale? Or is it more I mean, like 40, depends

Matthew Doyle 25:56
on the level you have, it depends on the leverage leverage you have, and

Alex Ferrari 26:00
just the leverage that you represent your if you

Matthew Doyle 26:03
just take it to one buyer, and they're a young writer, and no other place wants to buy it, then you're in no position to demand high level fees, right? So you're, you're only you're going to be getting scale, something, something of that nature. But each situation is fluid, and it's different. And right now, we're at a time where there's so many different buyers, right? What each is offering is, is really is really different. Like the fact that baby writers can sell a series to Netflix. And it's ordered to series off of that. That's crazy, but it's happening.

Alex Ferrari 26:47
And they've got the pockets to do it. And Apple might jump in to the game now.

Matthew Doyle 26:50
They are in the game. Oh, really? They are in the game. They have they have upcoming series? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 26:54
She's insane.

Matthew Doyle 26:56
That'll be great. There's a series with Dr. Dre forever. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 27:00
he did. Yeah.

Matthew Doyle 27:02
We're all over it. But Yep, apples is in the game.

Alex Ferrari 27:05
And that's going to be that's going to be a heck of a shock in the in the market.

Sebastian Twardos 27:09
I have no idea. And I have a question of all the series that are getting made like we're over 400. Now, I guess. foreigner and 16. How many of those

Matthew Doyle 27:17
a year? You're either a foreigner and 16 for 26 years? Yes. graph the mayor of television. That's what he said.

Sebastian Twardos 27:27
Okay, john landgraf is the president of FX. Yeah. Okay. And he actually, if you actually I would recommend googling john landgraf? Absolutely. He talks a lot about like the, like having too many pipe too many series, actually. Now that might be tapering off. But here's my question. Yeah. of all these series, so 400 plus series, how many of those are by baby writers, new writers, how many of those are really by people who already have established themselves in TV? Do you know just a

Matthew Doyle 27:57
vast majority are from people who have already established themselves in television. And the fact is, if you're a young writer, and you write a series, it is not the case that you are going to be the sole person and control the series, because when you sell it to a network, any network, you have to add other elements to it, you need to add producers showrunners writers need someone in control who knows what they're doing. They're examples like Mr. Robot, the same as male. So he was a feature guy, he wrote a script that got on the blacklist, and maybe like 2009, an incredibly talented writer he wouldn't use he's not it's not appropriate to call him baby, but he's someone who is not thoroughly broken in television. But when he wrote Mr. Robot, it was just an undeniable script. The first season, you know, he was effectively I don't I don't actually know if what he was the show on. Exactly. I would bet I would bet he is. Just because his voice is so clear. But he was surrounded by several things the director of it was I think it was Niels Arden Oplev but someone who is extraordinarily accomplished, he did anonymous content, probably the best television and Feature Production Company there is out there. Behind him. He was surrounded by people who could help them execute his vision in the second season. He I think this is the case. He wrote and directed he directed every episode. Oh, did he? Yeah, okay. It's awkward television. Same now if you look at the girlfriend experience on snores, same example, that's so large Kerrigan and Amy seimetz. They, that was all shepherded by Steven Soderbergh. If they were just by themselves, it probably would not have happened as it did, but because they had Steven Soderbergh as the father figure, and he had done the NEC, and he's a genius. And he gives no fucks as though he, from what I understand he's sold it to he brought it to Chris Albrecht, and said This is a series want to do, these guys are really talented. We're gonna deliver you all these episodes here all the scripts, and they're like, Okay.

Alex Ferrari 30:10
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Sebastian Twardos 30:20
Here's what I know. Okay, so most of them are established writers, which is what I thought it was. Yeah. How do you then establish a writer? let's say somebody out of film school or somebody who's just come across your desk, their new writer? How do you establish them? What's the process of eventually normally getting them through to the point where they can sell and run a show? But What's that like?

Matthew Doyle 30:42
To be able to run a show?

Sebastian Twardos 30:43
Don't go too far. I mean, like, Okay. How do you break a writer?

Matthew Doyle 30:50
sending the material and talking about them to anyone and everyone? That's why you need an agent?

Sebastian Twardos 30:54
How much how much material do they need for you to send? It can just be one. Yeah, usually a spec pilot, original spec pilot, something that shows your voice? Could it be a screenplay? Yeah, that question. Could it be a play? Yeah. Um, so could be any original writing? Yeah. That has your voice. Yeah. So your job is to do what

Matthew Doyle 31:14
my job is to call people meet people. Tell them about this artist, why they're incredible, and why they should be in business with that.

Sebastian Twardos 31:23
And then half the job is the writing is half the job. Also, the personality of the writer. Yeah, the being in the room? Is that literally half or so? Yeah, if not more, so. So just in there, there being good in the room.

Alex Ferrari 31:35
So that was my next question. What do you look for in a new client?

Matthew Doyle 31:40
I want I want to, I want leaders. Does that mean? Well, here's an example. There was someone who is an exceptionally talented writer director, who I was really interested in, and I went to a screening of her work. And it was, it was a panel of women, is what it was, and they were all talking about their ambitions. After the show the short film, at the panel itself, she, in my opinion dominated. She was just the unquestionable leader of it. And she had the most division, she was the most aggressive, she was the funniest, and she was the smartest. And she made such a clear impression that even from all the way in the back of the theater, I could tell like this person is going places, she was just a force personality. Yeah. That said, the personality is a huge aspect of it. And if you're talking about representing showrunners, or representing directors, you want to represent field marshals do their crafts. And that's so that's the that's what I look for primarily. And then of course, the talent. Okay,

Sebastian Twardos 32:49
so then you're sending them out there, you're sending the scripts out for people to read that go to the meetings? Yeah, what happens? How do you get it get the money, how to get them working.

Matthew Doyle 33:00
As an agent, your job is to frame it right? set the table, it's they start with generals, they meet with each other, they talk about their shared path. Pass, the The hope is that when you set a general meeting, and in talking about an in when the agent and the manager prep them appropriately, they can go in knowing what the potential opportunities are at that network. So you set them up with a studio or production company, and they can touch on what they are personally interested in about the production company of the studio or the network. If the production if, if you can bring it up to them saying showing you've done your research, then that's going to be a more engaging conversation. And hopefully, what comes out of it is they're keeping you in mind for the opportunities that whether it's a staffing opportunity, whether it's a directing opportunity, they leave the meeting, thinking that you would be someone that they would want to work with. So that's really why you need to have the personality.

Alex Ferrari 34:05
Now, what advice do you give someone who's just trying to break in trying to get just trying to break down trying to break in trying to get an agent? what's what's what do you suggest? What's your advice?

Matthew Doyle 34:15
It's all this is all we really tried. Let me try I'm trying to work hard to say be yourself.

Alex Ferrari 34:23
Have your original voice.

Matthew Doyle 34:24
Yeah, having original voice but that don't people can think they have original voice in the gallery. That doesn't really, that really doesn't really do much. It's so trite, I'm sorry, be work just work crazy hard. If you're obsessed. Then that I mean that that's the most important thing. But then then again, people can think they're obsessed and they're not. They can think they're working hard and they're not. So you just you have to have a realistic perspective on where you stand. And then how you compare and have such an appetite, in a way be so insecure about your position. And if you are, it's because you realize about where you stand and the potential that you have and how far that gap is. And that's what gives you the drive to put in the work and put in the time and reach that potential.

Sebastian Twardos 35:26
Also, can we can we ask to

Matthew Doyle 35:28
be self aware in a word being self aware?

Sebastian Twardos 35:30
Sure. Can we go the origin story? Yeah, sure. I want to get your origin story. Yeah, this

Matthew Doyle 35:36
interview started backwards.

Sebastian Twardos 35:38
He did on purpose, actually. Yeah. Well, we're kind of playing around a little bit to see to see what works sometimes. People like origin story first. Sometimes they like something like that pops first. Have a question. You just play around?

Matthew Doyle 35:50
Are you having ledgerwood in this program? Yes. Are you gonna do an origin story for Elijah Wood?

Alex Ferrari 35:55
No, no, because everybody knows his horse.

Sebastian Twardos 35:58
No, I mean, you have to tailor a little bit to I mean, I thought the coolest thing for you was that I mean you just got promoted I mean it's Yeah, that's why we started with 2016 like you know, Merry Christmas.

Matthew Doyle 36:08
That's my project. I promise you my project story is not that cool. There are way I respect for what they did and rah rah, but there are way cooler promotion stories at wV Hugh Jackman came up on the screen and promoted Patrick weitzel as assistant to agents nice yeah, stuff like that. Like that is cool. Mike and Elizabeth Doyle stumbling through lines that's not after nodes Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 36:36
after after nodes revealing boy you

Sebastian Twardos 36:38
also got into variety you got into what's it called? And that was the next gen or what was it?

Matthew Doyle 36:42
Oh yeah, it was variety new leaders new leaders.

Sebastian Twardos 36:45
Yeah, there's that word again leader leaders. So I tease you a little bit

Alex Ferrari 36:51
when you got in

Sebastian Twardos 36:51
but wait we got to get as orgeous where you from literally Where are you from? Where'd you go to school? What did you know you want to do this okay. Virginia, Virginia in Arlington,

Matthew Doyle 36:58
Virginia, five minutes from DC the probably the most important thing about my background is that the most defining thing about it was the fact that I was a twin. I really wanted to be different than and so from a young age, I gravitated towards a career because if I knew I knew if I could be really specific about that then no one had that on me. Entertainment it was what I focused on initially and it from a pretty young age it was being an agent I didn't know what it meant. Really so

Alex Ferrari 37:35
you were when you were young you were like I want to be an agent Yeah.

Sebastian Twardos 37:39
But you don't ask how old were you when you knew that and why

Matthew Doyle 37:42
14

Alex Ferrari 37:44
gold on on your wall

Sebastian Twardos 37:46
see that made you want to be an agent that's kind of

Matthew Doyle 37:48
it was an article about Richard love it Brian Lord Kevin vane, David O'Connor ca LA Times article, after they assumed the mantle at CAA and that article and it sort of profiled them all like they were Backstreet Boys. And then there was an article operator love it and reading about his personality. I happen to just the right time where I was trying to fight I was my problems were nothing in the scheme of things, but at the time, emotionally I was like, Who am I as a person that just happens when you're getting older? And how can I be special? And how am I different and I really respond to reading about his personality and the ethos he seems to embody and so I was like okay, I think I think I could do that.

Sebastian Twardos 38:42
So for those people out there read powerhouse which is the whole CIA story and read the agency which is also really good if you're interested in this world there are

Matthew Doyle 38:52
a lot of there a lot of great books read the mailroom the mayor on re read this is not about read keys to the kingdom by King

Sebastian Twardos 39:01
masters masters yeah I love keys to the kingdom

Matthew Doyle 39:05
yeah that's great. It's not it's not talked about as much

Sebastian Twardos 39:09
yeah i mean that's that's if you want to talk about like Mike Eisner and Mike ovitz

Matthew Doyle 39:14
that's a book it it's goes into the details about three personalities Jeffrey Katzenberg, Mike Eisner, Michael ovitz and how their relationships intertwined and are locked and how they affect each other. And it's fascinating and

Sebastian Twardos 39:29
also why the business is the way it is because there was a specific incident. But what happened since we're here that's in the wintertime. Frankie wells, who was a very important person in the business he was like the number two really at Disney died when he he was like a, like a ultimate skier like he would jump out of helicopters. And there was a helicopter accident, no, they died. But when he died, that set off a chain of events that like really changed the whole structure of the business which led to the founding of DreamWorks, lots of the founding of DreamWorks led to the change of seeing the 2.0. But anyway, yeah, we've digressed. There's one that's a good story

Alex Ferrari 40:08
the other one book I was when I was in Florida and had no interactions with Hollywood I read ovitz yeah. Oh, yeah. And that was just like my mind was blown. I was like, you know, all the whole story of how he did it and what he did

Matthew Doyle 40:21
I wouldn't call that journalism though.

Alex Ferrari 40:22
No, it's just a bad

Matthew Doyle 40:24
is. That was propaganda that was carefully manufactured

Alex Ferrari 40:27
propaganda. Yeah. But it was fascinating read through for someone who had never been at that point. That's true.

Sebastian Twardos 40:33
Well, anyway, let's so you, like you like the these the young turks? I did see a I do hold them and still do. Okay. Yeah. And so then what was your What? How'd you go

Matthew Doyle 40:44
about? So I, I went to college in Virginia, and my parents told me to go in state. I graduated, after Virginia has no connection to entertainment. And actually, maybe I was it was on me for not doing my research and trying to figure it out. They probably I know they have like some connections like Tina Fey, Winston. So the I graduated after my third year, and I moved out here. Now the summer after my second year of college, I'd interned in Los Angeles, spent a very little money summer, interning at two production companies. That's where I met you at your USC class, and try to get a sense of, of agency stuff. And I tried to brand myself as the guy wants to be an agent and I sat down with Lars theory,

Sebastian Twardos 41:40
Lars and ICM. Yeah,

Matthew Doyle 41:43
40 minutes late for the meeting. Oh, I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot.

Alex Ferrari 41:50
So but it worked out apparently.

Matthew Doyle 41:52
We got to get Lars on this show. Who knows what I've had could have been so I sat down with it. Yeah, so I sat down with agents and I was so unpolished even more so than I am now and I was just like, I want to be an agent This is the person I want to be and it was kind of ridiculous and then I came back after I was an unpaid intern. When after I graduated from school at the bottom and sure pictures

Sebastian Twardos 42:16
lab runs with a bunch of Ventura who produced the Transformers Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 42:20
what else legendary producer is a legendary producer, former president

Sebastian Twardos 42:23
of Warner Brothers

Matthew Doyle 42:24
but so I was an unpaid intern at his production company. And were no one made eye contact with me.

Alex Ferrari 42:35
No, it's it's sad but I completely Yeah, well, I

Matthew Doyle 42:39
think I made people uncomfortable because

Sebastian Twardos 42:42
well, what do you like snooping through their cars?

Matthew Doyle 42:45
No, I as a guy, and I think I was just sloppy and I was super aggressive. And I was just all over. You had no finesse No. And for further, I wasn't getting paid. So they probably felt sorry for me. It was a combination of taking advantage of technically they shouldn't have been doing they can't legally

Sebastian Twardos 43:05
Comment.

Matthew Doyle 43:08
On we go,

Sebastian Twardos 43:09
he will, it was it was essential if I hadn't done that. Here's the thing with that. I developed relationships, and I got a better understanding of how the industry worked. But the most important thing was the relationship I developed with an assistant there, the Assistant, I'm going to get to give a shout Sarah Ullman, who was so hard on me. But even for all that she was essential in me getting my job at the first agency, I worked at WD she submitted me to a guy who was already manuals assistant. And REM manual is dyslexic, his assistance. At times have the prerogative to send emails on his bath. To make a long story short, she sent his sister my resume, he sent my resume to HR from Ra. And so that's why I was hired. Because they thought that or he was recommending me. Great. Wow. So that's how I got in. So I started in the mailroom. And nobody was doing, I was in the mail for four months. Then I worked for a feature agent Simon Favre, for seven months, when he covered Sundance, then I moved over to television, I worked for Mark Corman in the television department. And then I worked for David stone. And I was there for years. And I was an agent trainee usually takes about I'd say probably five to six years to get promoted.

Matthew Doyle 44:40
isn't really that long. Cheese used to be shorter. Yeah, like threeor four people get promoted quicker. Yeah, it but it. So much of it is who you work for at the right time. Yes, it used to be that CIA. It takes like five and a half years, six years to get promoted. But recently for a lot of reasons, people get promoted a lot quicker there, because they just had the need in ways they didn't have before. So so I was there, I was trying to figure out a way to get promoted. And a, your hours

Sebastian Twardos 45:14
weren't saying, like, describe some of your hours because I thought they were crazy.

Matthew Doyle 45:18
I work pretty hard. I got in 730 and I was there till 1030 or 11. How often? Almost every night, for how long? do yours?

Sebastian Twardos 45:34
Yeah. Did you ever sleep there?

Matthew Doyle 45:35
No, no, I never did that. I never slept there. That's

Sebastian Twardos 45:38
like really, other people working at that level, or just some people? Did you ever

Alex Ferrari 45:43
see anyone sleeping?

Matthew Doyle 45:45
People said they're the but here's the thing. Water seeds to its own level. So in this business in this day and age with technology, anyone can justify working all the time. Because there's always things to do. But if you're a workaholic and you need something to justify meeting your life, you're going to do it all the time. And that's what I was doing. And additionally, I was holding on so tight because I was so scared, it would go away at any moment. That way I got in was so random, that I and I felt I didn't fit in. And so I felt truly that would be fired. And frankly, working for Simon Favre. I was a moron. In the first three months, he I thought he was tough on me, he wasn't harder bosses would have fired me. Same with corpsman same with David stone, all of those agents, they looking back, they could have easily Let me go. And it would have been fair. So I worked really hard to compensate for that, because I felt if I if I'm working all the time, they can say to me that, you know, you're not giving it your all. And so like that's the what's white hat. And that's why I held on to show my value. It doesn't have to be that way, though. And also, I mean, it's certainly not healthy. But rather than working from 730 to 1030, and then leaving, it's way better to be more intelligent about how you spend your time. However, you can do that. And it probably was not nearly I've gotten a lot smarter about how I spend my time. So while I work a lot. Now, it's not about being in the office now. It's about getting out there and seeing people having breakfast lunches, dinners, coffees, drinks, every single day of the week. And not defining myself by the guys in the office.

Sebastian Twardos 47:51
Thank you my favorite story. I just want to see if you have anything to say about this. Yeah, I'm not gonna say the whole name. But it's hierro is a manager. Now, my favorite story of everybody who I've ever interviewed or talked to or met in any class, when he was a creative executive at Warner Brothers. Yeah. Creative executive would mean that he was he just been made an executive. So yeah, but he was kind of the low end and how long ways to go. Anyway. The what, what brought this up was you mentioning going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he would go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day, every single day, every single day. And he said to us that he had not set foot in a grocery store in over a year. Because every day of the week, he did breakfast, lunch and dinner with somebody and it was all paid for by Warner Brothers. Sure.

Matthew Doyle 48:36
Well,

Alex Ferrari 48:39
what do you think of that? Respect? Great. Done. Well, I want to also ask you, what made you want to be a literary agent and also literary agent and television? Yeah, let's do what came

Sebastian Twardos 48:52
out of here for teachers, right? I knew it was a gradual process of discovering what it meant. When I when I first was telling myself I wanted to be an agent. I didn't know that I was divided into different departments. You know, I just saw us, which you'd love it represents Will Smith and he represents Steven Spielberg. Okay, cool. I started in the feature department because I'm really passionate about film and directors of it. It was just clear, when I moved over to television, that that's where the momentum in the industry was as far as financial promise and also artistic promise. So and also Secondly, I all I cared about for being an agent was understanding the different arenas. So I could advise, accordingly. If you look at an agent like Ari Emanuel, his brilliance as an agent and his brilliance and running an agency is understanding all these different businesses and how they work. He started in television went and then he started then endeavor was founded. He starts representing Mark Wahlberg. He said representing his former roommate, Pete Berg, who is an aspiring actor, turns them into a director. And I mean for Mark Wahlberg, for example, he takes this actor, and then he builds a business producing television Producing Unscripted shows, movies. And it's incredible. That's the value of, of being an agent, knowing how to grow and build someone, not just in one field, but multiple fields. So that was the additional benefit of that I love I love film, and I want to continue to stay involved in that my relationships in it are not what they are in television. But

I wanted to just ask what agencies are separated like an agency web or CIA or UTA, ICM, they have different divisions, departments? Can you can tell us like, break it down? Sure. So it's Motion Picture lit Motion Picture literary, representing writers and directors for film, motion picture, or sorry, television lit, representing writers and directors for television, unscripted, representing reality stars and production companies for reality television, and talent. And I don't get your talent and then TV tell it depends. No, a W meeting and they had agents who focused on television talent, but it wasn't clear departments.

Alex Ferrari 51:16
They jump back and forth, sometimes with that. Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Doyle 51:19
I mean, now, especially with the more and more Yeah, I mean, frankly, my mind's not anyone cares what I think. But it's all becoming the same. Like, if you're in a feature agent, and you're at Sundance, and like, just last year, for example, Netflix and Amazon are making the most purchases, okay. And a year before that, or two years before that layer. People were just wrapping their heads around the idea of them as television distributors, like, well, they're not even television. They're a streaming platform. And they're streaming long form content and short form content.

Sebastian Twardos 51:50
Yeah, it's all it's all. It's all mixing. Yeah. This year, Sundance is the first year that they have episodic television in concept part of the festival. Yes. Where

Matthew Doyle 51:59
my client our conscious Stevenson's film vessels showing she's very talented.

Sebastian Twardos 52:02
Yeah, they're also starting. I think they're starting going to do webseries relatively soon. Yeah, that makes sense. Which, yeah, because the lines are blurring.

Alex Ferrari 52:11
Well, I was like, we were talking last night when we went out to dinner. We're walking main street and we see YouTube. Yeah. And we're just like, man, things have changed. Like, you know, eight years ago when I came. Eli, you know, it was like, do YouTube what's right it's it's insane. Have any questions?

Sebastian Twardos 52:27
No, I think I think I think I'm alright.

Alex Ferrari 52:30
Thank you, sir. So much so much, Jeff. And

Matthew Doyle 52:32
I did an interview I did have fun. Awesome. Yeah. I love Elijah Wood and happy to be featured feature we all did, which is aware of as well. But really just a fan of one more question. Okay. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 52:51
Name three of your favorite films of all time.

Sebastian Twardos 52:53
Okay. This shouldn't be this hard, Matthew. Come on.

Alex Ferrari 53:03
A lot of people get it's hard for like, this

Sebastian Twardos 53:04
is not a hard question. No, I know, but

Matthew Doyle 53:07
it needs to be impressive. No, no,

Alex Ferrari 53:09
no, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't try to know just what you like. It could be something as silly as

Sebastian Twardos 53:15
number one et then Star Wars done. Yeah. Good girl Toy Story for

Matthew Doyle 53:19
us. Let's go Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom. Awesome. Really? Yeah. More than Raiders. Yeah, more than Raiders. What do you think? Don't

Alex Ferrari 53:27
Don't judge sir. Don't judge don't don't. But if you do like venomous snake leaf, I'm joking.

Sebastian Twardos 53:36
That's a Temple of Doom. Yes.

Matthew Doyle 53:39
Raiders of the Lost Ark. Okay, number two. Wait. No, no, that's so wrong. Aliens is number two. Okay, aliens

Sebastian Twardos 53:45
aboard an alien.

Alex Ferrari 53:47
Yeah, I can see that. Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. See that?

Matthew Doyle 53:50
This is a generational thing.

Alex Ferrari 53:52
It is. It is no, absolutely. Yeah.

Sebastian Twardos 53:54
Whiplash.

Matthew Doyle 53:56
Oh, yeah, of course.

Sebastian Twardos 53:58
And then frankly, any movie with the Elija Wood

Alex Ferrari 54:01
Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you, my friend. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Well, I hope you guys like this Sundance series, Matt. Matt was great. I loved having him on the show. And again, it gave me It gave me personal insight on what the television market is looking for, as far as writers are concerned and pilots and, and shows so I hope you guys learned a lot and picked up a few knowledge bombs. That was dropped by Matthew. Thanks again, Matthew, for being on the show. We really, really appreciate it. And again, I hope you guys like this series, man. I'm gonna try to do more of these kind of things. As the opportunities present themselves. Sundance is obviously a very unique experience and a unique time of year. So I would love to do this from can so if anybody out there wants to sponsor us to go out to the Cannes Film Festival to do the same thing. We are open. But or Toronto or Tribeca or south by Southwest, open to all of them. But right now that was Sundance is all we have at the moment. But we're hopefully going to be doing more of these in the future. So I'm glad you guys really liked it. And next week, we will go back to our normal to episode possibly three, but more likely two episodes a week schedule. So I hope you enjoyed it because I'm exhausted. Now I do have a couple of little surprises left from Sundance coming up, which we you can hopefully check out on our YouTube page, when I have a little bit of more time to get to them. But of course, you could always just head over to indie film hustle.com, forward slash YouTube, and they'll take you right over to our YouTube page. If you guys haven't subscribed to our YouTube page, please do. So it really would mean a lot to me. And we update things there all the time. So if you miss the podcast, we always update them, upload them there. And then we're going to be adding new video content there. Try to do more video content weekly, on our YouTube page, and you start growing that a little bit as well. And guys, one last thing, you know, I've been getting a lot of feedback, messages, comments, emails and things from you guys saying, How grateful you are for what I do for you guys. And you know what, I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for that, because it really does help. It really does help me keep going. This is a lot of work, you know, to put all of this stuff together all of this content together. But, but I really do want to help filmmakers, and I'm so glad that I'm able to reach filmmakers from around the world. It's remarkable how far this little podcast, our YouTube channel and and the website have gone. It's it's pretty, pretty remarkable. So again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if I can help or inspire somebody out there to make movies, and tell stories, and hopefully, they'll change other people's lives. So I really want to try to pay it forward. And whenever you guys can, in your lives, try to pay for it. As much as you can teach somebody who doesn't know as much as you do. You don't have to be an expert in a field, you just might have to know a little bit more than the person you're teaching. And that's all you need to do. Just just never hoard your knowledge. Just put it out there. Put it out there as much as you can, and help as many people as you can. Because, you know it's a tough business and whatever information we can get out there, to filmmakers, to screenwriters to to storytellers is a good thing. So thanks again guys. Keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

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Where Hollywood Comes to Talk

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