Joke Productions is the unscripted TV and Film production company owned by the two of us, Joke and Biagio.
It has a long history of teaming with both brand new and experienced producers, filmmakers, and on-camera talent.
People just like you.
Many of those partnerships became success stories, leading to TV series and pilots at major networks.
So who are we?
RealScreen Magazine recently covered Joke Productions in an extensive article. It’s an independently owned and operated, “wife and husband” company.
(We work together twenty-four hours a day and still love each other after nearly twenty years of marriage. Who says you can’t have a serious relationship in Hollywood?)
Joke Productions has roots in indie filmmaking, where budgets and schedules are tight. This has lead to our “hands-on” approach to making TV and Film.
In fact, the two of us still shoot, edit, create graphics, and even sound mix on our projects when necessary. (Check out this article from the official Adobe site to learn more.)
Because of that, we love meeting other filmmakers and artists who also enjoy hand-crafting content. So we’ve used lots of outreach to meet and discover talented people. That has lead to some great TV shows and film projects – plus a lot of new friendships.
Some of you have asked for more info on how Joke Productions uses Producing Unscripted to find new projects. So, we created this page to give you an idea of what working with Joke Productions is all about. Plus, how Producing Unscripted ties in. Welcome!
Table of Contents
Click link to jump to section:
- Working with Joke Productions
- Why We Started Producing Unscripted
- Producing Unscripted and Joke Productions
- This Isn’t For Everyone
- Joke Productions: A Brief History
- To Wrap Up
Working with Joke Productions
As mentioned, one thing that we’ve always tried to do is provide an on-ramp to filmmakers and producers who want to work in TV and film. In fact, many of our TV projects came from teaming with both new and experienced filmmakers. These include:
- Unmasking a Killer for CNN/HLN
- Caged for MTV
- Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne for A&E
- Ghost Inside My Child for BIO and LMN
- True Life Presents: Secrets, Lies and Sex for MTV
- Sister Witches TV pilot for Oxygen
- Plus several unannounced projects we’ve recently set up. From both brand new and experienced producers.
If we make an unscripted TV series or feature film together with you, we hope it’s the first of many. We want working with Joke Productions to be a fulfilling and career-advancing experience. Ultimately, it’s not just about making a TV show – it’s about launching your career.
There’s nothing we’d love more than to be a small part of your big success.
We team with both new and experienced producers
Are you a brand new producer, filmmaker, or on-camera talent? Check out this podcast episode with brand new producer Abra Chouinard. Or this one with first-timer Marc Jackson. We recently teamed with both of them on their respective projects. Both received deals from major cable networks.
Experienced pro? Check out this podcast episode with Todd Lindsey. He’s a seasoned producer who trusted us with his life-long passion project. We went on to make it as a TV series called “Unmasking a Killer” for CNN and HLN.
You can also listen to the above-mentioned podcast episodes right here:
Abra Chouinard – New Producer
Marc Jackson – New Producer
Todd Lindsey – Experienced Producer
Why We Started Producing Unscripted
People sometimes ask us why we work so hard to collaborate with new people, even beginners. Well, here’s one big reason:
We Remember How Hard It Was
In the beginning, getting people to meet with us was almost impossible. With names like Joke and Biagio, people weren’t even sure we were being serious when reaching out. Agents wouldn’t meet with us. Production companies wouldn’t see us. All we wanted was to show someone the work we’d been creating.
It took a long time for us to break in the industry and launch our own company. We had lots of help along the way, and always wanted to pay that forward.
So when we started Joke Productions, we also pledged to support new talent. Our hope was that we could find a way to help people break in that was easier than our own path.
We thought about being young, naive kids in Hollywood with a dream. What did we wish we knew when we started? Where could we go to pitch our projects? How would we become industry professionals?
Could we put together a resource to help the Joke and Biagio of twenty years ago?
Giving You A Roadmap
So we created this blog and podcast. It gives you everything you need to know to build your career in unscripted. This is the site we wish existed when we started our careers over twenty years ago.
In putting it together, we’ve held nothing back. We’ve spilled all our secrets. Shared what it’s like behind Hollywood’s closed doors. Talked about our own career path and obstacles we’ve overcome.
We’ve recorded over 100 podcast episodes. Wrote two free ebooks: How to Pitch a Reality Show and Unscripted Television: 100 Tips for Breaking In and Career Success. And we have plenty of discourse on Twitter (we’re verified). We’ve tried to give you everything you need to succeed, whether we work together or not.
We hope you find it all helpful! Perhaps you’ll decide to pitch us a show. Maybe we’ll even get to work together someday at Joke Productions.
We Get Something Out of This, Too
Lest we come across as do-gooders who go around helping everyone…let us acknowledge one thing.
We benefit greatly from this podcast and blog.
It’s not just out of the goodness of our hearts that we do this outreach. We get pitched hundreds of shows, get to pick the very best, and often go on to make TV series. It helps grow our company, and helps us produce more great projects. If we can help launch your career and continue to build Joke Productions, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Producing Unscripted and Joke Productions
Producing Unscripted is the gateway we setup to meet new talented people. Whether you’re a filmmaker or great real life person, you can read more about pitching to us here.
If we love your project, we’ll team with you to create final pitch materials. You’ll make a deal with Joke Productions. Together we’ll pitch and hopefully make your TV series (though it’s always a long shot and an uphill battle!)
However, we are very selective. You’ll probably have to pitch several or many projects before finding one that’s right for us. We receive hundreds of pitches. The two of us team up on about five to ten projects a year.
What do we want from you?
We do ask for your time, but never your money. If you’re a great editor, we might ask you to edit the first cut of a pitch tape. If you’re a wonderful cinematographer, we may ask you to go film some additional footage. Usually, we finish the pitch tape and final pitch materials at our offices. This typically includes a two-to-five minute video, and/or visual pitch deck.
Any expenses related to creating the pitch materials, beyond what we can do together with sweat equity, will be paid for by us. (This is also why we’re very selective when choosing projects. We’re investing our time and often our money into each one.)
This Isn’t For Everyone
Overall, the response to Producing Unscripted has been very positive. But, every now and then someone gets really mad that they must sign a submission agreement to pitch to us. Unfortunately, per our lawyers, if we don’t have a submission agreement, we can’t consider a pitch.
About Submission Agreements
If you pitch a project to us, you have to sign a submission agreement. By doing so, you acknowledge a few things:
- that we are developing many projects
- that we are being pitched many more (hundreds)
- and that we may already be working on a similar or nearly identical concept to what you’re pitching
Submission agreements are standard in the industry. Every legitimate production company requires them. Still, we know these can seem scary. They’re not for everyone, and some people worry that we’ll “steal” their ideas. (By the way, never pitch ideas to us or anyone else – pitch packages instead.)
When we were starting out in the industry, we signed many submission agreements. It worked out pretty well for us.
As you make your decision, check out testimonials from many people who have pitched us shows or worked with us. We went on to make television projects with many of them.
But we get why some people might still have reservations. Ultimately, if someone is not comfortable with our submission agreement, they should not sign it.
Whether or not you pitch to us, the information on this site is all free. No matter what, please use it to learn about the industry and how to pitch unscripted projects the right way.
Joke Productions – A Brief History
Joke Productions started out of a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood. The two of us – Joke and Biagio – spent our days, nights, and weekends making stuff. Short films, documentaries, even our own TV pilots. We embraced every project as a learning experience, and taught ourselves every job on set.
But as previously mentioned, getting a Hollywood meeting was almost impossible. It was one “no” after another.
We knocked on lots of doors. Finally, several production companies did meet with us. That lead to our first industry job, working as producer/directors on a new series called Caesars 24/7.
Next, former NBC president Warren Littlefield championed the two of us as showrunners. (There’s a very funny story about it in this podcast episode.) He’d optioned a book, and we made a TV series for Style Network called Foody Call.
We made a handful of other projects, both reality and documentary series. But our big career break came on a hit CW show. Beauty and the Geek hired us as showrunners and Co-Executive Producers. We ran two seasons of that show, and loved every second of it.
Since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to make a lot of TV and film. We haven’t looked back. But we do look forward – to meeting great filmmakers and making awesome projects.
To Wrap Up
Joke Productions owners, Joke and Biagio, love meeting and working with people of all experience levels. If someone wants to pitch to us, they must sign a submission agreement. Not everyone likes these, and we understand that. Even if you never pitch to us, use the info on this site to learn about our industry and build your career how you see fit.
More About Joke Productions
Wife and husband team Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina own and run Joke Productions. It’s located next to Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California. From its offices, the company produces unscripted TV and film. This includes shooting, editing, color correcting, and also delivering projects. Joke Productions has created and worked in a wide range of unscripted entertainment. Network clients include CNN, HLN, VH1, MTV, A&E and many more. You can find Joke Productions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please note that the offices of Joke Productions are not open, accessible, or viewable to the public.