Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos had great news about the future of the streaming giant in India. With 10 shows and 6 original films being created currently, Netflix is making giant strides into the region. Speaking at the 20th Mumbai Film Festival, Sarandos said, “It’s one of the most exciting places just in terms of the vibrancy of the market, the youth of the market, and the adoption of the internet – there are 250 million people watching content in different forms on the internet in India.” Since he was addressing an audience that had several budding filmmakers waiting to get a foot into the door, the Netflix boss shed some light on what he’s looking for in a pitch and the best way to get his attention. Sarandos said he is used to hearing story pitches all the time, often at unlikely places like the hair salon or on a flight.
THE BEST WAY TO GET HIS ATTENTION
“A professionally worded cover letter. An old school letter stands out a lot. I get more than a 1000 emails a day. So if someone is reaching out or cold calling on an email and get upset that I’m not able to respond, it’s because it’s not practical. So an old school letter stands out more than anything.”
AN IDEAL PITCH FOR NETFLIX
“The best thing to do is to have a fully fleshed out idea, especially if you’re someone who is unknown in the business. An actual script – an actual package that says who’s going to be in it, who’s going to make it, ideally a bible that will tell you how many seasons is it meant for creatively and how you’re going to get from point A to B. The more complete the better. Our first set of Indian originals are heavily based on books – much like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. So a known IP helps… we can also see if that book sold around the world. We did a show 13 Reasons Why that was very popular all over the world but one of the reasons we knew to do it was the success of the book and how many languages it was published in.”
WHAT HE LOOKS FOR IN A STORY
“The stakes. Sometimes the stakes can seem very low but be powerful. Most great movies are based on betrayal. I think that’s what makes films universal because everyone has experienced some sort of betrayal and being able to tell that story is a way to get people invested in it. There are other structural things like does it take too long to get to the payoff but I find that I have the most unlimited patience for a great story. So I can watch a movie that is very slow if it is delivering on the story.”