Previously I’ve discussed the importance of screenwriters pitching their stories live in a room, either to a panel or a single development executive.
Recently there has been a proliferation of film production companies that allow you to video pitch remotely. This is brilliant news for writers who don’t live in the Los Angeles area. We finally get to meet you! New faces and ideas keep us alive.
The same rules as regular pitching apply.
A video pitch is a commercial (trailer) for you as a writer and of your story. Make an impression.
Here are some pointers:
- Video pitches tend to be shorter than live pitches. Sometimes they will last no more than two to three minutes rather than five to ten.
- Be aware of your voice and presentation. If you’ve got a blocked nose, laryngitis, a cough, or are hungover, record on another day. For hayfever sufferers like myself, take lots of Claritin (non drowsy).
- Have a drink of water before you start and speak as naturally and conversationally as possible. You want to appear that you are speaking on the fly rather than sounding like an over-rehearsed infomercial.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. In front of your friends, in the mirror, to your pets. Record as many takes as possible. For me, I usually record around five versions of each video pitch. The first one is almost always trashed. The second or third tend to be my best takes. Any more and fatigue sets in.
- Modulate your voice. Be passionate. If you’re pitching a comedy film, be funny. Crack a joke. If you’re pitching a horror movie, be scary. Don’t be melodramatic or over-emotional. This isn’t an acting audition. You’re selling your screenplay.
- Ensure your presentation is smart casual. Avoid too much makeup, crazy hairdos and distracting outfits. Also remove any posters, ornaments or other distractions from the background. Any gimmicks or props are distracting. The only exception I can think of is maybe important artwork in a sci-fi/ fantasy film that helps your audience visualize the world. Even so, use these with caution.
- Don’t read. Look into the camera and relax. Be natural. NO cue cards, shuffling pieces of paper or autocues. Be conversational.
- Start by introducing yourself, the title and genre of your film script. This primes your audience. Avoid starting with a philosophical question such as “how would you feel if your world wasn’t real, but rather a creation of a supercomputer called “The Matrix”. It may have worked fifteen years ago, not today. Be lean and efficient.
- Discuss the uniqueness of your idea or central concept.
- Continue with a one sentence logline; possibly two at most.
- Describe the opening scenes using visual words.
- Discuss your set up of characters and plot. Bring your audience up to speed so they know how your characters got to this point and the source of conflict they face. This sets up a logical springboard for the story to proceed.
- Describe the organic unfolding of the story, the rising conflict, tension and resolution. Reassure your audience your story has a beginning, middle and an end. Don’t bore them with minor details. They want broad brush strokes.
- Use trailer moments to show the key set pieces and commerciality of your script. Think of those water cooler moments. These will also get potential attachments interested.
- Have a “pow wow” ending that is memorable. Don’t think you’ll entice someone into reading your script by withholding the ending. This ploy has a 100% failure rate and makes you look like an amateur. The ending is a vital part of pitching your story concept as a complete entity.
- Ask if they have any questions.
- Ask them the best way to send the script to them.
After you submit, get back to real writing. Good luck.
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