And Here’s the Pitch…
Three Steps to Pitching and Selling Your Screenplay
In the parlance of Hollywood, pitching is the art of verbally selling your screenplay or story.
Pitching is usually done in person, a.k.a. “in the room,” although nowadays it also happens via phone and Skype. In this article, we will focus on pitching in the room, but the ideas discussed here carry over to other settings.
Below are three things to “know” as you try to sell your story.
1) KNOW YOU ARE HOT
Show business thrives on enthusiasm, so if you are going to pitch, be confident, friendly, and excited to be there! Your exhilaration will be contagious.
Sure, you are walking into someone’s office hoping to sell a story, but remember they are voting on YOU as much as they are your ideas.
A producer or executive may hear a dozen pitches in a week, and hundreds in a year. While they are evaluating the merits of your story, they are also wondering, “Do I want to talk to this person for the next year (or more) while this project is being developed?”
As they say, be a good date. Be confident, but not cocky. Make a connection. Before you pitch, try a little chitchat. Smile and enjoy the presentation. And always listen.
Finally, remember that the people you are pitching to may not buy your script, but might want to hire you for another project. You are building a relationship for years to come, so be good in the room!
2) KNOW YOUR STORY
Your confidence will be reflected in how well you know your story. You have to know your tale inside and out, because producers ask the darndest things!
Usually, you first want to give the title of your project, the genre, and a logline. If you had written “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” you might say something like:
“The movie I want to tell you about today is called ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ It’s an action-adventure film about a world-renowned archaeologist named Indiana Jones, who is trying to locate the ancient ark that held the original Ten Commandments…”
You get the idea. Be sure to give a beginning, middle, and end to your project, and include the character names as you go.
Practice – practice – practice your pitch! Rehearse it in the mirror, in the car, in front of your cat, and I recommend recording yourself, so you know what you sound and look like, and if your story makes sense.
And if you make a mistake, keep going. Chances are no one noticed.
3) KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Do some research on whom are pitching and what they might be in the market to buy.
This cannot be overstated. You wouldn’t stroll into IBM and try and sell them golf clubs (unless you like weird stares).
In the same way, you don’t want to walk into the offices of the Lifetime Channel with a pitch for “Lethal Weapon 7.” Do your homework and know whom you are pitching and what they make.
Keep in mind that the person you are pitching is asking themselves various questions, such as:
– What is the audience for this project?
– Who could we cast in the roles?
– How much will this cost?
You will improve your chances for sales if you have thought about the answers to these questions.
That’s it for now! Good luck pitching your ideas and remember to have fun in the room!
Send me your pitching stories and adventures to: email@example.com