Doug Eboch and Ken Aguado, co-authors of “The Hollywood Pitching Bible”, discuss the key components of a successful pitch.
Most pitches range from 15 seconds to 15 minutes long and they are often delivered in an unstructured, spontaneous environment. The key to delivering an effective pitch is to have a compelling idea with a strong emotional core that is ready to be expressed in a variety of formats.
1) ESTABLISH A PERSONAL CONNECTION
Set the stage for both yourself as a writer and the writer of your story. Discuss the conceptual evolution of the story. What element of your personal experience inspired your story?
2) WHAT IS YOUR MOVIE?
Start with your title. Make it catchy and memorable. What is the genre? No more than two choices. What is it’s rating? Is it an R-rated comedy or PG13 adventure?
3) WHAT IS YOUR LOGLINE?
Summarize your idea in one or two sentences. It gives your audience a contextual framework for your idea and helps them visualize your story and decide whether it’s movie-worthy.
4) WHAT ARE COMPARABLE MOVIES?
What are similar films that gives people an idea of the theme, tone and feel of your film? It gives your audience an idea of budget, distribution and scope of your project. You can quote elements of comparable films at your own risk to convey they tone you’re going for.
A Judd Apatow comedy is different to a Will Ferrell comedy. Compare your project to recent (within the last 2 years) and successful films.
5) WHAT IS THE WORLD OF THE STORY?
This will influence the length of your pitch. An urban film set in a gritty, inner city suburb needs less introduction than constructing a fantasy/sci-fi world like Middle Earth or Hogwarts. The world of your story relates to setting, time (period, contemporary, near future etc.) and locale (place).
5) DO YOU HAVE A HOOK?
This is the uniqueness of your story. Does it have a certain take on familiar material or some “cool” twist to make it interesting and marketable?
6) WHO ARE THE KEY CHARACTERS?
In a simple pitch, concentrate on the protagonist and antagonist. In an ensemble, introduce them as a group e.g a dysfunctional family, an inept sports team etc. and then elaborate on the individual characters. Create empathy for them and a point of view so your audience gets a sense of their emotional journeys. Be sure to stagger your character introductions so your audience can keep up with them. Focus your character pitches on dramatic function more than plot.
7) WHAT IS THE PLOT?
Plot refers the the superficial events of your story. Include major set pieces and trailer moments in this section.
Discuss the key turning points/ act breaks so your audience know where they are in the overall timeline of the story. Give an idea of character arc, growth and their journeys. What happens to initiate the story trajectory? What is the “all is lost” moment, climax and resolution?
What do they characters learn? What do they do after the story ends? Don’t try and cover every story beat.