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Q&A with WIFT-T award winner Noreen Halpern

McClung’s Magazine blogger Nancy Barnett interviews Noreen Halpern, recipient of WIFT-T’s Outstanding Achievement Award at its Crystal Awards on Dec. 5.

McClung’s Magazine blogger Nancy Barnett was invited to attend the Crystal Awards on Dec. 5 held at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The 24th annual gala luncheon hosted by the not-for-profit Women in Film and Television Toronto Division (WIFT-T) recognizes and celebrates the achievements of women and men in film, television and digital media. Here, she sits down with Noreen Halpern, recipient of WIFT-T’s Outstanding Achievement Award, the last of six interviews with winners and the women behind WIFT-T to come at McClungs.ca.

By: Nancy Barnett

Feature image via Nancy Barnett.

As eOne Television’s president of dramatic programming, Noreen Halpern oversees all scripted series. She left Alliance Atlantis to co-found Blueprint Entertainment, which would merge to become what is now Entertainment One.

What is your secret to successfully pitching a show to the networks?

It really is about passion. Years ago, I used to do a pitching workshop at the Banff Television Festival and the best advice that anyone ever gave (and I used to use over and over again as my own) was know your material incredibly well and love it so you can sell it passionately. If you can’t get across how much you care about something, no one else is going to believe it’s going to be worthwhile watching.

You seem to tackle riskier subject matter like Hung and Call Me Fitz. Is it harder to sell these properties?

It really depends because those are both shows that have a really unique hook to them. The one unifying factor of eOne and Blueprint before it, I would say is having some kind of a hook, and so that often ends up being edgy or not traditional. I think that’s really the key. There are a lot of shows out there but we need well made shows that have some kind of a hook, some kind of a twist, something that is unique. Something that you can sell in a line, on a poster, or on the side of a bus does help.

From your perspective, are you more interested in getting the big huge hit or something that’s more unique and has critical appeal?

It just depends. I’ve never set out looking at a show and thinking I want this to be the homerun. You strive for a success, you want a show that’s going to go on and on and on. Some shows, to borrow a sports analogy which I never do, you know will be a single or maybe a double. The homerun is so elusive and you never ever know. 


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