I recently attended a very informative seminar on pitching for films and television. It was conducted by Douglas J. Eboch and Ken Aguado, the authors of Hollywood Pitching Bible.
Here is a brief overview of their presentation.
Pitches and screenplays are not the same. They are different art forms.
Identify key elements of script to use in the pitch. (Elements not plot points)
Organize your thoughts to translate what is in your head.
Spend time to construct the perfect logline.
Loglines should be:
- Descriptive, quick and compelling
- Fewer than 25 words.
- Less than 30 seconds.
Elements of a pitch:
- Hook – what makes your idea compelling. What makes it cool or unique.
- Character – Why are you rooting for this person
- Must be likeable or sympathetic
- Tell the pitch through the main characters eyes (P.O.V)
- What is he doing
- What is he learning
- What is his emotional journey
- Plot – Structure and arcs
- Personal Connection – what drew you to the project? Why you are emotionally connected. Give your personal perspective of the material
- Set the stage
- Type of movie.
- What is the context?
- How will it be marketed?
- An important element often forgotten.
- One liner gives idea of where you’re going and allows you to set up your story.
- Setting – Set up the world of your story. If it is an unknown or new world, describe it. (Sci-Fi, Futuristic, Fantasy).
- Characters – Lay out main character(s) at the beginning. Others can be introduced during the pitch. Refer to other characters by their description (brother, mother sister, etc.) not their name. It is easier to follow the story.
- Story – Some of which was talked about at the beginning. This is the majority of the pitch. Pitch Story, not plot. Don’t go step by step, scene by scene.
- Put your best stuff in the first two minutes of the pitch to peak their interest. Most pitches sell during that initial period. The remainder of the pitch is to be sure you won’t crash on the journey.
- Don’t compare to other films if you avoid it. If you do compare, make sure it is clear as to how it compares.
- Comparisons are good for tone, not concept.
- Can be damage control for movies that initially seem hard to sell. Such as a a movie with a child lead.
- If you compare, list two or three pictures. You might compare it to a picture the person hates.
- Compare only to recent movies – no older than 2 years.
- No more than 3 pictures.
- Compare only to hits, not obscure.
- Use Act Breaks on pitches longer than five minutes. It helps the person to follow the timeline. It also helps to punctuate moments in your story.
- The tone of your pitch should be the tone of the screenplay. (Comedic, tragic, dramatic, etc).
If you are pitching an idea to sell an unwritten screenplay, give away the end, especially if it really unique. If you pitching a completed screenplay, don’t give it away. Your pitch is a teaser for the existing screenplay.
High Concept ideas are much easier to executable ideas.
Don’t pitch a pilot. Pitch the franchise, not plot or pilot.
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