Too many people think that buyers expect them to pitch a screenplay in a locked-down, rehearsed speech
A) Pitches don’t have to be linear. In fact, frequently getting the studio executive’s attention with a great element of your story and then filling in the details around it can be more potent than telling a linear story like a train trapped on its tracks.
B) Frequently, I find when I am verbalizing a story in a pitching situation new ideas come to me in this process which I incorporate – either because of questions that are posed, or just spontaneously from the excitement of the moment. Even if I haven’t sold, I go away with a much richer piece of work and with a better understanding of how others view it.
C) Be aware that most producers and executives are under a lot of pressure. Do not take more time than you need to be effective. They will appreciate this.
D) Most of the time when you are pitching a buyer, you are usually meeting people who are screening out the material before they take it to their bosses (who are the real decision-makers). It is really smart to practice your pitches on friends and allies before you meet these executives. This can help you hone some of the major selling elements that puts your movie idea in a successful perspective that will help the executives, if they choose to take your project to their bosses where they will be re-pitching it. In other words – you could tell them that you think your story is “the next AVATAR” or it’s “a LORD OF THE RINGS type love story set on another planet”, if the description is truthfully appropriate.
E) I’m firmly convinced your greatest weapon when you pitch a screenplay is your personal passion for it. The more you believe in the value of what you are sharing, the more potently obvious it is to the buyer and it will help excite them to discover what is so special about this project. Some of the best writers are not the most articulate pitchers. The buyers know this but they can sense passion, even in a less-than-articulate pitch, and guess that there is something special there.
Even when you pitch a screenplay but haven’t succeeded in selling it, frequently good things come from taking the pitch meeting. The buyer is more familiar with you. Sometimes they may have a project which is too much like the one you have, but invite you to come up with other ideas. And sometimes they might approach you with their own projects that they feel you could possibly add your distinct voice to, to help them succeed. A rejection isn’t always a rejection – sometimes it can be the beginning of new opportunities.
About the Author: Pen Densham is an award-winning screenwriter, producer, and director who estimates he has pitched and sold almost a hundred stories to film and television (and experienced many, many more rejections along the way!). Pen’s screenwriting book “Riding the Alligator” helps you discover effective ways to pitch a screenplay.
For more information visit: www.RidingtheAlligator.com
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