Pitching seems to be a mystery to some, especially if they're brand new to it. And even if they aren't, having a general idea of how to enter into one with confidence never hurts.
Having been through the process myself, I'd like to offer eight valuable ways to pitch with confidence:
After you’ve competed your final rewrite, be sure to do some research about your chosen executive or network. Find out what they’ve produced and what they’re adding to their slate.
Think about this: You wouldn't go to a job interview without having some insight on the company or the position you are applying for. The same holds true with a network. When you are prepared, you not only provide a phenomenal script, but you are equipped with the best questions and answers, too. The goal is to finally score that YES or feedback that will potentially move your project forward.
If you’ve ever written anything that you want to present to an audience, then you understand the importance of feedback.
I like to put my scripts in front of reputable sources; these are mentors, college professors in the film department, colleagues, and producers. If you’ve created a great network and they understand your journey, they will make time to read your script. Remember, their time is as valuable as yours. So provide them with error-free scripts to aid in their ability to read it and get back to you in a timely manner.
You might be wondering what in the world mindset has to do with a pitch.
You're an entrepreneur working for yourself. You are using your time, skills, and talents to create a product to sell in exchange for funds. When you’re just starting out, you may call yourself a freelancer and aspiring. Honestly, I believe if you remain in that mindset of "aspiring," you do not open yourself up to opportunities that can challenge you to grow as a professional writer. But when you view yourself as a business owner, not only do you take yourself more seriously, others do as well.
Shift your perception of how you want to be accepted. You’ve done the hard work, now it’s time to show execs that you do have what it takes to establish a place in the film and television industry. Empower the you that drives passion and innovation.
Who will benefit from your story? Who the heck are you talking to?
I always tell my students and mentorees to know your audience. It's frustrating to an executive when they have to guess your demographic or audience. This can make it challenging to connect with your vision. Clarity is key in any presentation. You do not want to waste an amazing opportunity due to simple mistakes.
What is so great about your characters that the producer wants to meet them? How do they impact or change the world that they are in?
I like to allow my characters to walk me into their world. I follow as they change and grow. I build upon their emotions. For each character, I take time to explore the world through their lenses. I am a comedy writer, but I don’t write as myself because I’m not a comedian. Instead, I tell the story of a character who hopes to persuade viewers that their life experiences are similar to those of the viewer, and have been created in a way to make them humorous to adjust and alter the outcome.
Don’t be a jerk. Of course you’re smart. Perhaps you’ve won awards or been accepted into a few rockstar festivals. It is still important for you to respect yourself and whom you are pitching.
It’s fantastic if you have confidence, but don’t come off as arrogant. Allow the very best version of you to shine. If you are typically a quiet person or more introverted, practice being more animated in the mirror or with a friend. You don’t want to seem antisocial. Remember, you aren’t just selling a script, you’re selling yourself. I have friends who have sold scripts or gotten really great gigs because they were so easy to work with. You can have a perfect script, but a horrible attitude can result in a negative response.
It is tempting to want to share everything you’ve been working your fingers to the bone to complete. Unfortunately, no one wants, cares, nor has the time to evaluate more than one project at a time. You never want to overwhelm an executive or steer your pitch in the wrong direction. Stick to your “why” and focus on one story.
This is the number one way to lose the interest of someone. Although they may not interject to regain control of the pitch, they will view you as an amateur who is unprepared. Save your other work for those scouring Stage 32 for unique talent.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the quote, “You Only Get One Shot.” I gotta tell ya, in this industry, that saying can be very true.
When you finally get the opportunity to showcase your masterpiece, value the moment. Quiet the inner and outside noise and focus your attention solely on what you are there to do. Show the executive that you're serious about your idea. I get that we all have busy lives. But nothing is more frustrating than interacting with someone who takes a moment to read or respond to a text or someone who has to check social media notifications. Take calls prior to your pitch. Inform friends and family that you will be busy. Prioritize your day in a way that allows you to be attentive in your scheduled meeting.
As RB, the founder and CEO of Stage 32, has taught me and has stated various times, “The end goal is to get that YES.”
If you are a driven, innovative, and a creative thinker, you have the potential to present work that will wow audiences. But before that script can get to screen, you must dazzle those on the other side of that table. Make them want to share your story with the world. These eight values have worked for me. I am confident that if you implement them, they will work for you as well.
Happy Writing, Creators!
Rashika Roberts is a screenwriter, author, editor, and publisher with a big personality, self-described as a short chic pretending to be tall in sparkly heels. This journalist and author has a knack for comedic dialogue and character-driven content. Rashika writes to kill a few giants, kiss a frog or two, or win a nerdy debate. She's been blessed with fibro, which taught her how to curse in her head and smile when people ask how she's am doing. It has also taught her that my super POWER is writing through the lovely pain!
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