Screenwriters have head it before. A screenplay has no value if you can’t pitch it to film producers.
Pitching Your Film Is Like A First Date
Experts say that the outcome of a date is often determined within the first 30 seconds.
Similarly, your verbal film pitch has a similar fate. The first 8-10 words out of your mouth are by far the most important part of your movie pitch. Make them count.
The quality of your pitch will decide if film executives or movie producers like you enough to work with you and subsequently read your screenplay.
What To Include In Your Movie Pitch
If your screenplay was adapted from a published book, confirm you have the rights to it.
If you placed highly in a significant screenwriting competition, been optioned or produced, tell them immediately. It will greatly influence studio executives in a positive way.
It’s surprising how few words can grab somebody’s attention. Allow pitchees the freedom to visualize the concept without you talking all the time. They may have their own ideas of how your screenplay should look. You want them to do more talking than you.
The more you the talk, the less likely that they will read your screenplay. Unless you’re answering their questions, be mindful of the talk to silence ratio.
Try not to use industry insider, colloquial or cliche words, phrases or ideas during your pitch unless it’s relevant to the screenplay. It may alienate producers if they don’t understand them.
Make sure your screenplay isn’t based too much like any recent film, even if it was a box office success. Remember the rule, same but different. Fresh, yet familiar. Producers are looking for new voices rather than carbon copies of screenwriters of successful films.
Avoid saying anything that could make executives lose interest immediately. Things to avoid are: this is a franchise movie and it will make over $100m, it is destined to be a hit, it is a period piece or drama, it’s an ensemble cast. It will probably be too expensive to make.
If you think that it could be animation then don’t say that until the end of your pitch. Always give the option that this could either live action or animation.
Don’t argue with movie producers. If they don’t like your concept, nothing you say will change their minds. The best you can hope for is being asked “what else do you have?”
Do not put executives on the spot. If you ask them a question like “How should I get a script to you?” Such tactics often result in a tactical retreat or a polite refusal. Exude confidence not arrogance. Executives want to be your friend and hang out with you.
All pitches are a performance. You don’t have to be an actor to use pauses. A pause can be useful in creating drama and anticipation in your pitch. Modulate your tone. Speak with your hands.
Practice your pitch on someone and then let them pitch it back to you to see if they’ve grasped the concept in one sentence. Pitch to strangers in the grocery store line. Call your friends and pitch over the phone. Video yourself on your smartphone.
Remember that when you pitch your logline or story that the development executive or producer needs to pitch it to their superiors in turn. So don’t make it too complex, especially in crime thrillers. Pitch in broad strokes. The better that person can pitch your story, the more likely that it will be made.
Also, if they lean forward and say they want to read it, then stop talking. They are interested. Your mission is accomplished. It is unbecoming of a writer to beg or even ask an executive to read your film script. Don’t do it. Ever.
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