FILM

Super Easy, Barely An Inconvenience: Interview with ‘Pitch Meetings’ Series Creator Ryan George

The creator of Pitch Meetings on the series’ origins, the filming process, and feeding the YouTube monster

Storius Magazine
Sep 28 · 8 min read
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Credit: Jolene Lamon

If you are a movie buff, chances are you have seen at least one Pitch Meetings video. Since the series was launched in 2017 on the Screen Rant YouTube channel, it has received over 300 million views. The videos featuring an overenthusiastic screenwriter pitching movie ideas to an equally over-positive producer have highlighted countless head-scratching choices made in popular movies and TV shows. To date, the series has shown what a pitch meeting could look like for over 200 movies and shows, from the classics like Star Wars to recent releases like Disney’s Mulan. The series creator and star Ryan George spoke with Storius about the show and his other projects.

STORIUS: Let’s start with the series’ origins. Where did the Pitch Meetings idea come from, and how did you start producing it for Screen Rant? Was there a pitch meeting involved?

The inspiration for Pitch Meetings came from an amazing stand-up bit by John Mulaney in which he breaks down how strange it must have been to sell the film Back to the Future. He pointed out things about the movie us viewers just ACCEPTED without thinking twice (like how teenager Marty is best friends with a disgraced nuclear physicist — which is never explained).

It kind of clicked for me that MOST movies have weird moments that the audience just goes along with, and that highlighting them could be really fun. I was already making “talking-to-myself” style videos on my own YouTube channel, and so I put together a thirty-second Pitch Meetings video for the 2017 Justice League movie on there.

I was already working for Screen Rant at the time (hosting short-form videos and doing the occasional voice-over) and so there wasn’t so much of a “pitch meeting” for Pitch Meetings, so much as a “Hey, maybe I could try making longer versions of this thirty-second sketch?” Which they were very open to!

STORIUS: With over 250 million views, Pitch Meetings videos clearly have resonated with the viewers. What do you attribute the success of the series to?

In general, people watch Pitch Meetings after they’ve already seen the movies I’m talking about. So they’re watching Screenwriter Guy and Producer Guy make mistakes and questionable decisions, already knowing how those decisions turn out. It’s kind of like a big inside joke in that way.

In another way, like with the John Mulaney bit that inspired the series, it’s fun to be made aware of weird tidbits about films that were right in front of you without you realizing.

STORIUS: What has been the Pitch Meetings’ path to its current popularity? Was it an instant hit, or did it take a particular video for the series to take off?

I was really lucky with the timing of Pitch Meetings. The first episode I made was for Justice League in November 2017, which was a very divisive film. A lot of people weren’t happy with that movie, and because my video highlighted some of the big problems with it, it got a lot of views right off the bat. About a month later, The Last Jedi came out, which was another massively divisive film. The same thing happened with that pitch meeting, and so right off the bat, I was lucky enough that within the first month, a sizable audience connected with the series!

STORIUS: By now you have released over 200 Pitch Meetings episodes. Has the show changed over time? If yes, in what ways?

I think that I’ve definitely settled into the characters and heightened them to highlight how gleefully oblivious they are to the bad decisions they’re making. Earlier pitch meetings are a little more toned down and slow-paced, but over time I really started leaning into a faster pace and a more over-the-top positivity. Also, there are a whole lot more catchphrases now! Wow wow wow…wow.

STORIUS: You have created multiple series, including the Campus Law series for Kevin Hart’s network, Laugh Out Loud. What’s been your experience of pitching show ideas? Has it influenced Pitch Meetings videos?

I haven’t pitched a ton of projects yet, so there hasn’t been a huge impact on Pitch Meetings. What I have learned is that there are three very important questions to answer during any series or movie pitch: Why this idea? Why now? Why me? (As in, why should I be the person to write or direct this?) Unfortunately, in Hollywood, the answer they’re looking for to all those questions is “because money” — which doesn’t always lead to the best projects being green-lit.

STORIUS: Have you heard any reaction from filmmakers and producers who pitch or listen to pitches on a regular basis?

I don’t want to get into name-dropping, but I’ve heard from a lot of people in the industry that some of the stuff I’ve said in Pitch Meetings is shockingly similar to actual conversations they’ve been a part of in Hollywood. That’s both hilarious and pretty sad too.

STORIUS: Who are your major influences when it comes to comedy?

Obviously, I’m a big, huge, massive fan of John Mulaney — he’s just in a league of his own when it comes to comedy writing, and he just makes me want to sit down and write jokes all day. I’d say another huge influence is Bo Burnham. I really admire how he can go from over-the-top silliness to shocking honesty in a split second, often interweaving the two into a single joke or song. You also never know what to expect. Sometimes he’ll deliver a joke that’s just a funny joke, but other times the subtext is actually a massively important comment on society, fame, celebrity, social media, or another issue he feels strongly about. Honorable mentions: The Lonely Island, BritTANick, SNL, Derrick Comedy, CollegeHumor back in the day, Tim Robinson (I Think You Should Leave).

STORIUS: Do you have a favorite Pitch Meetings episode? Maybe one that was especially fun to make?

I think it would have to be a two-way tie between the Cats episode and the Game of Thrones Season 8 episode.

Cats was just such an insane and mind-boggling movie that it was fun for me to sit down, try to make sense of it…and FAIL. That movie is absolutely insane. Everything is “Jellicle,” and they never tell you what that word means. All the cats are competing for the prize of DEATH. The CGI is HORRIFYING. It was definitely a lot of fun to imagine how that pitch meeting must have gone.

Game of Thrones Season 8, on the other hand, was almost therapeutic. That final season was disappointing in so many ways. So many rushed, baffling decisions went into that thing. It felt really good to just lay all those out in a video and tear it to shreds. I think a lot of people felt the same way, because that’s the most-viewed Pitch Meetings episode ever.

STORIUS: What’s your process for making a Pitch Meetings video? Do you script all the dialogue or partially improvise? How long does it take to produce an episode?

It takes me two to three days to make an episode of Pitch Meetings. I start by watching the movie and taking a bunch of notes. Then I spend a ton of time reading and researching. I’ll dig through the whole Internet. I read and watch every review; I scroll through forums and comment threads, just hunting for little nuggets of information. Then, when I feel like I’ve absorbed every single thing there is to know about the movie, I spin it all into jokes and write the script.

There’s very little room for improvisation since I shoot each character’s lines all at once. If I improvise something, I need to update the script on the spot so that the next character’s reply makes sense. If I improvise something while I’m shooting the second character, then I need to do a costume change and reshoot a reply…So yeah, not a ton of room for improv!

STORIUS: What do you enjoy the most and the least about creating online videos, whether for Pitch Meetings or other series?

What I like most about creating online videos is the freedom to do whatever I want. I’m very lucky that Screen Rant trusts me 100 percent to just do my own thing, so I can really play around with the Pitch Meetings format and get weird with it when I want. Is something going to blow up in this episode? Maybe there’s a ghost in the room? Maybe Producer Guy has a super dark past that he hints at! There’s a freedom there that I think is hard to find in big-budget Hollywood productions, or if you’re working with too much studio oversight.

Similarly, on my own sketch comedy channel (which is about pretty much anything OTHER than movies and TV), I can literally make a fifteen-second sketch about a pun or a five-minute sketch about the dangers of social media. It’s just total creative freedom.

On the flip side, I guess what I like the least is that YouTube is a content-eating monster that always needs to be fed, so sometimes the workload can be a lot. But it’s work that I love and that I’m incredibly lucky to get to do — so in the end, it’s worth it for me!

STORIUS: What’s your advice to content creators who want to launch their own show on YouTube? The top do’s and don’ts based on your experience?

I’d say that patience is super important. Let yourself be bad at first and give yourself the time it takes to get better and find your voice (as cheesy as that sounds). Don’t get frustrated when you don’t immediately have a massive audience, because it takes years to build one. I started making comedy content online in the early 2000s.

On a similar note, be honest with yourself about why you want to create content. Is it because you’re truly passionate about it, or is it because you want to become famous? Make sure that this is something you love to do even when nobody’s watching. If you’re not truly happy and passionate about the creative process, having an audience isn’t going to solve that problem.

On a more practical, less philosophical note, meditating and doing three pages of freehand journaling every single morning (google Morning Pages) really helps the ideas flow out of your monkey mind.

STORIUS: And in conclusion, what’s the story behind the “Super easy, barely an inconvenience” catchphrase that’s featured in every episode?

I wish there was a magical story behind it…It’s just something that I said twice in the first video and people in the comment section seemed to like it!

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Storius Magazine

STORIUS is an online magazine about the art, craft, and…

Storius Magazine

Written by

The art, craft, and business of storytelling at storiusmag.com

Storius Magazine

STORIUS is an online magazine about the art, craft, and business of storytelling. Featuring perspectives of professional and emerging authors, filmmakers, and other creators, it delivers a rich mix of storytelling facts, news, and techniques to its readers.

Storius Magazine

Written by

The art, craft, and business of storytelling at storiusmag.com

Storius Magazine

STORIUS is an online magazine about the art, craft, and business of storytelling. Featuring perspectives of professional and emerging authors, filmmakers, and other creators, it delivers a rich mix of storytelling facts, news, and techniques to its readers.

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