by Joey Tuccio
You've spent YEARS writing your script. You've outlined it, you wrote it, you rewrote it, you turned it in for feedback, you rewrote it AGAIN. Now what? As my company dives full force into virtual pitches, I learned that A LOT of writers do not know how to pitch. And some are blatantly too scared to even try! Paralyzed by the thought that they actually have to talk about their script with a live person. I think some writers get a little too comfortable in their solitude of writing. It really is a shame that so many writers spend so much time writing their script but are too afraid to praise it and pitch it to people.
Here is some friendly advice to help you conquer your fears of pitching, or simply to make your pitch even better!
- Start with the logline AND genre of your story. Why genre? A brilliant producer once told me that if a writer doesn't start with their genre, it will be unclear how they should interpret it. If a writer is pitching a story that sounds slightly funny, a producer might feel too awkward to laugh because it could very well be a drama. Alleviate the stress and say it up front. Also, think of ONE movie out there that resembles yours. This could really help an executive visualize your story immediately and have a better sense of it. DON'T START a pitch with So, what are you guys looking for? What would you like me to pitch? I have this, this and this. Be confident in your pitch. You have their attention right off the top, so the quicker you can get into the pitch, the better. If time allows, you can quickly say at the end Oh, by the way. I have a comedy too about (logline).
- Pitches should be 2-3 minutes MAX. Have you ever had a friend that just goes on and on about a story and half way through all you can think about is What are they talking about? I wonder what I'm going to eat later? Wow, he got so fat. Don't let their minds drift. Usually around the 3 minute point is when a mind might start wandering.
- BE a story teller. Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael (writers of BRIDESMAIDS) would literally write out their routine before pitching their script. BE an actor. Sounds scary right? It's not. Just have fun when you tell it. Even if it's a drama. GET INTO IT. That doesn't mean fall on the floor bawling when the love interest dies (though they would certainly remember that), but it means take your appropriate pauses (or "beats") to help build emotion. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. You spent years writing a script, so you can spend a few weeks rehearsing your pitch. Do some mock pitches with a friend.
- Don't forget to talk about yourself too! Did your script place in a contest? In our most recent pitch session, APA agreed to read a script because one of our writers was a finalist in a big contest. Have you ever produced anything before? Has anything you ever done been made? Don't feel ashamed or depressed to say "no". But try to think of one or two things that can be interpreted as an accolade.
- Just for virtual pitch sessions, consider your background. One writer, who had an awesome script, decided to pitch with a weird sculpture behind them. Guess what the executive was more interested in looking at during their pitch?
- Last but not least, PLEASE don't be discouraged if a pitch session is unsuccessful to you. There are so many factors and, you know what, they will remember you and maybe down the road when their company is looking for a particular kind of script they will reach out to you. Just know that their are a TON of companies out there and if one says no, or if ten say no, or if a hundred say no…there are still a bunch of places to go to. Go over your pitch. Maybe something isn't working with the actual pitch. Is it clear enough? Is it concise enough? Get advice!