Hattie Elliot on What You Learn Producing a Reality TV Show Pilot

In Chapter 2 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, female entrepreneur Hattie Grace Elliot answers "What Happened With Your TV Show Pilot and What Were the Takeaways from the Experience?"  Elliot talks about what she learned producing a docusoap reality television series called "The Grace List" based on her life and her business.  The experience gives her a firsthand view of how television is made and how a show concept and characters can change after a network buys the show. 

Hattie Grace Elliot is the founder and CEO of The Grace List, a social networking company that creates destination events and experiences to forge lasting personal and professional connections across its young professional members. Elliot graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she studied economics, philosophy, and politics.


Erik Michielsen: What happened with your TV show pilot and what were the takeaways from the experience?

Hattie Elliot:  Wowsers, that was an incredible whirlwind. So last year, I was producing a pilot for a TV show on my business called The Grace List. And it was really kind of a pseudo—they called it a docu-soap, it profiled my personal life and my search for love along with, you know, “the daters,” you know, members of The Grace List. And it was a great concept. It was an incredible, incredibly unbelievable, unbelievably frustrating, chaotic, ridiculous experience, but at the same time, really extraordinary, and like I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, but I just now understand why Lindsay Lohan and all these celebrities are so dysfunctional, ‘cause I feel like I’ve got a very good head on my shoulders and I’ve worked very hard for years, but even I was like, wow, to keep—be level-headed in this industry, it’s tough. 

It was a huge undertaking. I was very, very proud of the initial pilot, which the network bought, they then decided to re-tweak it and reshoot it, and change the premise quite a bit, and cast the characters, and I was really devastated, to be honest, about the final product, I was absolutely—I really worked so hard and was very actively involved, but the final edit, I was just didn’t feel—I didn’t wanna put my name on. I wouldn’t. It was very upsetting especially after putting all that time in. Do I have regrets about doing it? Never. It’s like I would rather have loved and lost, you know, I would have rather had that whirlwind experience, I learned so much. I don’t regret it. 

But would I do a show again? I might with caution, but now I understand why reality shows are never around real businesses, you know? Because when you have a real company, it’s your baby, like I take great, great pride in this company that I built, and what I do, and I’m very protective of my friends and family, and so I’ve never just been willing to sell out, you know, for 5 minutes of fame, and, you know, crouch shot on the cover of Us Weekly or something, like, it’s just not my thing. 

So at this point, the project, the second round went actually to an offsite which is basically like where all the network execs meet and see if it’s gonna go to season, made it through the offsite, went to focus group testing, and I think about halfway through focus group testing was dropped, and it was a real blessing, actually. And there’s definitely some other show concepts in the works, but they’re very different. And they are concepts that I really believe in and that I feel like I can really do justice to now that I realize what goes into a show and what—what’s negotiable and what’s not negotiable, and what the actual process is, time-wise, commitment-wise and, you know, what you have authority to have edits on and stuff, so I’m excited. It really has—it was a—it really led to a lot of opportunity for me, a lot of opportunities, so—Yeah, it was a trip. Albeit an entertaining one.