PitchingHINTS & SUGGESTIONS ON PITCHING YOUR PITCH
Have you written a script? Your next step is to pitch it!
When you take one of our courses, you will likely get an opportunity to pitch to an agent, a manager or a studio executive.
ARE YOU & YOUR PITCH READY?
Read these tips …
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What We Know about PITCHING: It Is IMPORTANT!
Christine’s Tips on Pitching Hollywood
If your preliminary pitch is successful, you may get more than one opportunity to pitch your work. Hopefully, your preliminary pitch won’t be your last one. So, don’t try to squeeze everything into it! You only have about 20-seconds for your preliminary pitch. The second pitch is about 5 minutes. A more extensive third pitch is about 45 minutes.
Your preliminary 20-second pitch needs to be short and captivating. It usually focuses on the logline — a one-sentence summary of a scriptor screenplay —without embellishments. The 20-second pitch is to excite an interest in your audience. It captures the essence of screenplay while not going into detail. The best 20-second pitches are those that state a screenplay is similar to a commercial movie but with a unique, key difference. For example, Jason Bourne was pitched as James Bond with amnesia. The Incredibles was a movie that twisted a popular concept of Superheroes playing the everyday man. Those are examples of 20-second pitches.
One of the reasons that the 20-second pitch is so brief is that typically a producer, manager, agent or developmental executive will have to remember and retell your pitch to many other people. If they get confused or can’t present your pitch well then it may not get presented at all. So your pitch needs to be MEMORABLE and RECALL-ABLE.
Your 5-minute pitch is even more crucial. It is the expansive overview of your story. It includes interesting details including the twists and turns in your story and your character arc. It must be so fascinating that the person listening will ask questions. If your audience asks questions, that is a good sign. If they just thank you and move on then they likely are not interested.
Your 20 minute to 45 minute pitch is done by invitation only. Once a producer, agent or manager expresses strong interest in your screenplay or your writing skills then this longer pitch comes next.
Getting through the pitching process is challenging especially for those writers whose expertise is writing and not selling. We strongly recommend hiring a pitching consultant. If you can’t present your script then you will never sell it.
Other important points to remember when working on your pitch:
- Pitch your genre. If it is comedy, make it funny. If you are pitching a thriller or a horror film, make your pitch come across as suspenseful.
- Be brief. Do not give details — like where your protagonist was born —unless they have a direct effect of the progression of your story.
- Sound natural. Do not read word from word from a cue card. You should not sound rehearsed. Deliver it with enthusiasm and excitement.
- Learn about the person that you are pitching to. What movies have they or their company done? What genres? How much money did the movies gross?
- Only compare your movie to successful movies.
Perfecting your script is #1 obviously, but it is worthless if you can’t sell it. People often suggest pitching to friends and relatives first to get used to it. Watch for their reactions. Record yourself giving your practice pitch – more than once.
Then if you want, you can hire a pitch consultant. Don’t spend thousands of dollars. Do find someone actually “in” the industry that has many years of experience and charges a reasonable fee.
► Scroll past video below to learn about our PITCH HOLLYWOOD COACHING.
Being CONCISE and ENGAGING are the keys to a great pitch. Invest the time and energy to perfect your pitch.
MORE Pitching Tips
9 More Pitching Rules that Every Screenwriter Should Know
- ► The first 6-10 words out of your mouth are by far the most important.
- Be sure to state the genre. BE the genre. If it’s comedy, your pitch should be funny.
- If your screenplay is based on a published book (preferably not self-published) and you own the rights, mention this immediately.
- If you won or placed high in a top writing contest such as Nichols Fellowship, Sundance or Toronto Film Festival then definitely mention this immediately. FYI – Nearly every Sherwood Oaks student that became a Nichols semi-finalist gets paid to write after attending a seminar.
- If your story is meant for animation, then wait until the end of your pitch and state that it could be either live action or animation.
- Never says it’s a blockbuster or its the perfect film to make sequels.
- Avoid asking rhetorical questions.
- The goal is to have the person that you are pitching to ask questions and do most of the talking after your initial 20-second to 2 minute pitch
- ► If they like it, stop talking and listen!
Gary Shusett, Sherwood Oaks founder, talks Jewish mothers, Ellen DeGeneres & “pitching your pitch” with Christine Owens
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The best writers are often the worst at pitching. Writing and pitching are two very different skill sets.
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