Here are some laws of pitching according to the director of film and TV at Buffalo State Jeffrey Hirschberg:
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE (WHO YOU’RE PITCHING TO)
- Always ask the exec what they’re working on, what types of scripts / genres they are looking for, etc. Say you have a Rom Com and a Horror pitch in your back pocket – how the exec answers these questions might impact what you say.
- Understand the four quadrants (Male and Female 14- 25 and over 25) and the audience your story is intended to attract.
KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS
- Your heroes and villains should be roles that will be attractive to A-List actors or actresses. Think big characters; not necessarily big budgets.
KNOW YOUR STRUCTURE
- Producers and studio executives are very familiar with classic three act structure – speak their language and you will keep them engaged.
KNOW YOUR FOUR TS: TONE, TOWN, TIME AND THEME
- Is it a drama based in present day New York City about unrequited love? Find a way to get the four T’s into one sentence. This technique will also help you craft your logline.
LESS IS MORE
- Don’t pitch every story beat. Engage the exec and make him / her part of the process. The more they feel a sense of ownership, the more they’ll fight for you and your script.
- If you don’t demonstrate that you believe in your pitch, the exec will never believe in your pitch.
THE BUYER IS ALWAYS RIGHT (ALMOST)
- If the exec makes a suggestion, don’t dismiss it. See if you can incorporate his / her vision into your story without losing your vision. Tell them you’ll think about it.
PAINT THE ONE SHEET
- You’re working in a visual medium. Execs love to think beyond the pitch and how they can sell a film. Paint the picture.
PAINT THE TRAILER
- Talk about “trailer moments” or “set pieces”
- Help the exec pitch your story to his / her bosses
NEVER ANSWER A QUESTION WITH “I DON’T KNOW”
- Execs want to know you’ve thought out almost anything they can throw at you. Thinking on your feet is critical.
- Will these “Laws” work for every situation? Absolutely not. But, hopefully, you can use the above as guiding principles to help you sell your next project… and sell yourself.