Today we’re going to tackle something everyone could use a refresher course on... pitching. Ah yes, the woes of pitching! It’s extremely scary, especially if you’ve never done it before. But don’t worry, after watching this video, pitching your amazing screenplay or pilot will be as easy as writing it. Actually... probably easier.
A pitch is basically verbally selling your script to someone in the industry who may be interested in it. This could be a director, a producer, production exec, an agent or your best friend’s father who knows Tyler Perry.
Alright, so when you pitch, you are presenting someone with your story idea, a concept you came up with while singing in the shower or a situation that happened at your child’s school. When you pitch, you can present this person with everything you need such as the book or newspaper article your idea was inspired from, necessary photographs or a list of casting suggestions. The more you have, the more successful your pitch will be.
Now, there are different types of pitches. There’s the classic elevator pitch where you have roughly sixty seconds to deliver your idea in hopes of getting a meeting to further discuss your project. But in terms of this video, we will be discussing the pitch you present when you already HAVE THE MEETING. Because let’s face it - you’re so bomb, you’ll get the meeting. Positive thoughts people!
Here are some elements you must have in your verbal or written pitch:
Number one: establish who you are, present them with a logline and explain your project.
If you need extra help in creating the perfect logline, tap the link below. So, what do I mean by explaining your project? Well, before pitch, ask yourself why you came up with this idea. Were you inspired by your parents' long-lasting marriage and wanted to write their love story? Did you witness someone save your animal’s life and were inspired? When you explain to an exec the personal ties you have with your story, it gives them context on why this is important to you. The more passionate you are, the more they’ll want to help you. Make sure you explain from your opening what genre your movie is. If you want to make it easier for an exec to see your vision, feel free to compare your movie with other successful movies that compliment it. Obviously, your romance movie won’t be ‘The Notebook’ but if it's ‘The Notebook’ meets ‘Bridesmaids’, then your audience can fully appreciate what they’re about to get into from the beginning.
Number two: Go through the most important beats of the story.
Whoever you’re pitching to needs to understand how this story starts and ends in a short and concise way. Make sure to reveal the inciting incident, the call to action and the three acts. Now, if you want to disclose your ending, go on ahead, there’s no rule saying that you have to keep them guessing. My rule is, whatever best suits your pitch is what you should go for.
Having a studio exec on the edge of their seat wanting more is always a good sign you’re on the right track.
Next, you want to keep it simple. Don’t labor on the backstory or the neighbor’s niece that has one line in your script. Talk about the struggle between protagonist and antagonist. Talk about your PLOT. Talk about the hero or heroine’s journey. Talk about the meat of the script and why this story should be told. As a general rule, too much detail will lose your audience. If you only had ten to twenty minutes, would you focus on Princess Ariel and her true love for Prince Erik or would you focus on the fork she found in the ocean?
Now, when you are pitching, you want to close in a way that gives your audience hope that this show or film can be great. If it’s a pilot, then execs want to see if there’s longevity. Without saying too much, you can give them a summary of season one or at least the first three episodes. Make sure they know your show has longevity and can last as long as Grey’s Anatomy. Or at least pretty close to it.
If you are closing with a feature, you want to make sure you present the stakes of your story and give them something that leaves them wanting to read your script immediately. A cliffhanger perhaps?
Whatever it is, don’t hold back. Once you’re completely done with your pitch, you can leave behind a one or two page summary of what you just talked about as well as setting up a follow up time to call. Don’t worry, they will!
Now that you know how to pitch, let’s go over what NOT to do during or before your pitch.
Point one: You don’t want to go over your allotted time.
If you find yourself going ten-fifteen minutes over, you run the risk of a studio exec cutting you off or completely boring your audience.
Point two: don’t try to pitch without practicing first.
I know you’re amazing but chances are you’ll stumble through your story without first doing the necessary prep work. Practice in front of trusted friends, yourself in the mirror or a stranger! When you practice on someone you hardly know, it forces you to prepare better.
Point three: don’t take rejection personally.
People say no, and that’s okay! In instances like this, the fact that you were brave enough to try and face someone is what counts. There may be a million reasons why someone doesn’t want to move forward with your project but if you blow up when someone says no, you risk ruining a potential opportunity in the future. Remember, Hollywood is small. Be kind and take it with grace - you’ll always have another chance with a good attitude.
Today we learned about the art of pitching. I hope you learned something today. If you want to help us, please leave a comment on what videos you’d like to see next and make sure to like, share and subscribe for more videos like these! And remember, knowledge is power… the more you know, the better you’ll be. Peace.