Clubhouse: Pitch Me, I'm Dreaming

Blessing (@blessinggk) and Gaby (@producer.gabs) took to Clubhouse on Thurs 18th March, to provide an introduction to the Line Light network and what members can anticipate over the next few months. Read below for a summary of the chat.

Scroll to the bottom for the Q&A!

20:00 Shaé Universe - No Stallin' plays in the intro as we wait for the room to fill.

20:05 Gaby: Really happy you guys have joined us tonight, we're going to tell you a little more about our plans for Line Light and how we are going to absolutely take over the television industry, okay?! We are on a BIG mission to get our experiences, our stories on screen. We wanna see more diverse teams. And really, this starts with you guys.

To give you more context for Line Light, we have set this up as a network, it is open for all and we're championing especially brilliant stories. We want to hear from you guys about the talent you enjoy watching, anything that's inspired you, and really anything you want to see on your screens, we want to facilitate that relationship - to show the industry exactly what we're made of and that we are worth the investment and that we are worth the opportunity.

So the reason we set up Line Light, is because it is part of a larger vision. We are launching a streaming platform later this year; a streaming platform which will be the home for Black and Brown British productions. Something that doesn't really exist at the moment - we haven't had a channel on broadcast TV which is for Black stories and Black experiences (although we are starting to see more in this space - it has taken quite some time!)

It is literally about breaking down the whole door - we're coming in, we're kicking down the whole door - and showing what we can do!

Over the past year, Blessing and I have been working on our pitch, our designs for the website and building up the network and speaking to industry professionals to see exactly where we can fit ourselves in.

We managed to get one partnership with a media company who are interested in helping us launch the streaming platform. But in the meantime, we didn't want to delay the opportunities to get people into paid positions within television, we didn't want to delay people's fantastic ideas from having a chance of getting into paid development and commissioned - so this is why Line Light was born.

Our community relies on all of us working together in collaboration, so we can generate the best ideas and facilitate any skill workshops, so we can just get to that level where they are looking at our ideas and taking us seriously. 'Cos boy! We did not come to play.

20:09 Blessing: We wanted to keep authenticity at the heart of everything we do. Even when this started, the process was so organic, it was just me and Gabs at her house and we were just talking about what we could do to improve the lives of creatives. We put together this manifesto *reads manifesto* ...

We are creatives ourselves and we understand the struggle, so it's really important for us to protect everybody's IP.

It's not just about getting you guys in the door, it's about getting you guys paid too. Building generational wealth is something we both strive for, so if you do join us just know we will be getting you guys paid.

We have had enough of other people telling our stories - it's about time we control our own narratives. We see first hand the effects of how somebody else controlling our narrative has a damaging effect on how people see us, judge us or perceive us. So we really hope that you can all feel you can be your authentic selves when you join our family, and run with it!

We're not here to come across as an agency, we're here to build a community and the community relies on us all working together.

20:12 Gaby: Just on that note about us not being a talent agency as such, we want you to view this more as an employment resource. So, this is a collaborative effort to make sure that everybody who is part of it can benefit from our plans.

Our media partners we've forged a partnership with are called iZen UK which comprises of three independent production companies: Chalkboard TV, Clapperboard and Storyboard Studios. Our agreement with them is as follows:

They will take 20 submissions each month for scripted and non-scripted shows. These will be shortlisted to 3-5 each month to enter paid development with the relevant production companies. Once the idea enters development, you'll work directly with the production company to get it to a place where they can pitch it to some of the largest UK broadcasters. Whether this is producing a pilot episode or a sizzle reel, this will be a paid opportunity. Some of the broadcasters that could commission your ideas are BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, National Geographic, Sky and SVOD platforms.

The opportunities are really endless. I cannot express how big this is, simply because of the connections that they have. As long as the ideas that we put forward are on point, make sense and have real commercial value, there really is no limit to which channel can invest in these programmes. We need to get our thinking caps on guys, for real.

We've also managed to secure a 12-month residency with The Department Store Studios. It's a members club located in Brixton-

20:17 Blessing: Nah nah nah Gabs - I'ma need you to pull that back. I need everyone to understand what we are announcing to them. Not only are we providing you guys with these opportunities, but we are providing an actual place where you can come and work from...

20:18 Gaby: Ok! Lemme just let you know. Because The Department Store Studios is located slap bang in the middle of Brixton - it's where it's ALL poppin. Furthermore, these guys have screening rooms, meeting rooms, a fully stocked kitchen, a rooftop terrace, and please believe, that they have offered US - Line Light - YOU - the community - a space for 12 months to conduct all types of business from.

I'ma just let that sink in.

20:19 Blessing: Yeah so all you man who have tried to go Soho House to get in - just know, with us, you can get in for 12 months. So sign up! It's not only a home for us, it's a home for you too.

We'll be holding workshops where we can develop our professional skills.

20:20 Gaby: So on the website, there's a little space where you can tick if you agree with our manifesto and where you can upload your CV. The whole reason for this is so that we now have a database of your information, what you're interested in, what your ambitions are, how you want to cultivate your own creative career in the television industry - we now have that information so when we get contacted by our media partners, these guys will be sending us job opportunities, vacancies, internships, crew call outs. All this information we will disseminate to you so that you can take advantage of these opportunities.

This is the whole mission and we're so excited to get started!

What we need from you guys is a commitment to responding to these briefs, putting your best forward, putting your best ideas to the page. Even if you think your idea isn't quite where it needs to be, we are prepared to give you feedback and help support you with different workshops, networking events, all of these useful tools will be at your disposal so you can get your best ideas out there and secure some deals!

20:21 Blessing: So we're going to invite some people up to the stage to ask any questions you may have.

Q: The cynic in me is wondering if this is too good to be true?

20:23 Gaby: I want to assure you that this has been in the making for a year, and we have been grafting and networking and pitching - do you know how many presentations exist within our Google Drive? We have been waiting for the right time to meet someone who can facilitate the ideas that we have to improve the industry. It's a response to the industry who are desperate to prove their support for Black Lives isn't just performance-based.

This agreement we've entered is much more tangible than a social media rise to fame. We've interrogated the process that already exists and we've created our own lane to prove to the industry that we are worth the industry.

Q: How did you and Blessing meet?

20:26 Blessing: We met on a shoot, Gaby was the Production Manager, I was the Make Up Artist and she rescued me in from the rain. We sat and spoke in a café before the rest of the cast arrived and we just hit it off! I think the reason we get along so well is because we have the same moral compass, we both value integrity - like that is everything to us. You can hear it when we talk. We're really passionate about what we do.

I have a tech and make up background and Gaby is in TV, so coming from two different backgrounds, we just complement each other. We came together and just wanted to empower you guys because we empower each other.

We're not coming from a place of privilege - we understand what it is to be a struggling creative, both in London and outside of London.

20:28 Gaby: We just hope you can connect with the vision we have for the future - we are literally at such an early stage. The Black British identity is in its infancy right now, it's only in the past few years that we've actually been in a place where we feel like we can champion and celebrate our culture. Growing up, this was all the rubbish we were bullied for, so when it comes down to it, it's this time that we should take to run with it and create a good feeling for everybody and for future generations as well. Cos God knows, the ones who come after us will be unstoppable. So that is the aim.

Q: It's great to see two Black women leading this. You seem to have the right goals in your mind. Have you seen a difference in the way people have responded to you before and after the Black Lives' Matter movement?

20:30 Gaby: When we were focused on getting the streaming platform out, ITV had this initiative and they were asking for innovations in the digital and tech space that related to TV. Like gaming or a streaming platform. We thought this grant was literally made for us, they were offering £10K and we thought this will help us build the platform.

Just before we applied, I read the T&Cs and the exploitation was revealed. As soon as you submit your idea, they would take all rights to the platform and if they decided you weren't the right 'fit' they had the right to kick you off and continue building the idea without you.

20:33 Blessing: Yeah, if that's not extortion I dunno what is

20:34 Gaby: Trust me, we are not about to enter a new age of blaxploitation that's not what we came to do. We waited for the right partner to come around instead. We were blessed with a smaller grant by a Canadian company, called Black Artists' Union, who just wanted to support a start up business from Black founders, without trying to take anything from us.

With the companies we've got this agreement with, we've had to be sure that the terms are going to benefit all of us. There really is no room for them to take the piss! We just won't have it.

Q: In terms of pitching ideas, are you looking for ideas that are not funded at all or if they got partial funding, would those ideas be accepted?

20:37 Gaby: If your idea is partially funded, that is completely fine! We're open to all types of submissions. Whether you're looking for full funding or partial funding, any idea is welcome. This is the nature of the beast. Often production companies will look for other funding partners to help create an idea, so yeah it's absolutely fine!

Q: Do we get briefs or do we just submit any ideas we have?

20:57 Gaby: So every couple of weeks we'll send you guys the briefs that we receive from the media companies. This is important because your proposals should consider the brand identity of particular channels. If there's clarity on brand identity and the channel can absolutely see your idea on their channel, that's just a plus in getting your pitch green lit (by the channel). You can however, submit ideas which are outside of the briefs. People send me scripts all the time, I live for it. We're definitely open to helping shape some ideas which are fresh and new and outside of these briefs. Please do not shy from sending those in as well! They will always be considered.

Q: If there's an idea that's potentially floating, and works, are you guys more producers or are you more like agents?

21:00 Gaby: Our role is as a consultant, more than anything. My personal professional background is as a Producer and a Production Coordinator. I work on music videos, short films, branded content; so I have an understanding of the whole production process. But specifically in this role, neither Blessing or I will try to get in on your production - what we want to do is guide you so that you have the access to the production company to help you work with it.

Once you submit your idea and it's shortlisted by the production company, we'll then introduce you directly to them and take a step back and allow you to continue working on the show.

It's only by the strength of the network that we can deliver on the things we have planned and we just hope through this experience, we can show you that it's possible. We don't have to just commit all of our creative ideas to YouTube and hope it gets 1M views one day and then someone picks it up, and reh teh teh. No! That process is dun' out 'ere. We're trying to do something new, more beneficial for more people and we wanna give the industry that resource to diversify their on screen selections and their teams as well.

More questions? Ping us an email:

In affiliation with GUAP Mag, LevilleTV, GreatCoat Film, No Signal Radio, Black Women Rising, The British Blacklist, The Hue-list, Storyboard Studios, Renaissance Studios, Chalkboard TV, Clapperboard, Zinc Media

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