You wrote an amazing script, you won a prestigious contest, and now you’ve got agents, managers, and producers ready to listen to you. Suddenly, you have to do the exact opposite thing that you’ve been doing while writing alone in a dark room; you have to sell people, act excited, and convince them your idea is going to make them rich.
You have to pitch!
This is a great position to be in, but you want to make sure you’re just as prepared for the pitch as you are with your scripts. Here are a few tips to help nail that pitch:
1.) Avoid Details
Details make screenplays standout in a great way, but details make pitches exhausting and boring. Getting into plot details is the quickest way to put a room to sleep. Mention the names of as few characters as possible and keep the plot description to UNDER 400 WORDS.
2.) Set the Tone of the Script
If you wrote a comedy, start the pitch with a funny anecdote or related fact. If it’s a dark drama, provide the impossible moral choice your hero will have to face. If it’s a sci-fi thriller, give us a taste of what is unique about this world. Let your audience know quickly what kind of film they’re buying.
3.) Compare to Like Movies and Characters
It’s cliché, but it works. You certainly don’t want to start with “My film is TRAINWRECK meets MEET THE PARENTS”, but you can more casually mention those films throughout your pitch. You can also bring up actors or characters whom the producers can think of while you’re pitching. It’s the easiest way to paint a picture verbally because it gives the producers something tangible to hold on to.
4.) Be Prepared for Interruptions
When you’re pitching, the producer or agent or manager may interrupt you to ask a question. This isn’t a bad thing so don’t let it throw you off your game. It just means they’re curious about your project. The more your pitch feels like a conversation, the better off you are.
5.) Be Open to Suggestions
If the producer is leading you with a question: “Do you think the script should have a voiceover added?” maybe, explain why you didn’t go with that option. If they push on it, BE OPEN TO CHANGES. Don’t walk into a pitch expected the producer to want to develop or buy your project without any of his or her own input. Don’t fold on every suggestion either, but take suggestions with some acceptance.
6.) Read the Room
Every producer is a little different and therefore every pitch is a little different. Read the room and adjust the pitch accordingly. If a producer keeps asking for more detail, go ahead and get into that detail. If the producer is obsessed with the main characters, talk about those characters. Adjust your pitch in the moment just as you would adjust a conversation with someone based on their body language and responses.
7.) Ask for Follow-Ups
After the pitch, ask if they’d like a one page, or a treatment, or a synopsis. If they had suggestions that you liked, just tell them that you’re going to include those suggestions in a treatment and send it their way. Following up is the best way to keep in contact with those you pitched to.