One of the most uncomfortable experiences that anyone can have is pitching something that they have written to those who will either accept it or reject it. Just like delivering a speech for the first time, pitching a screenplay can be quite nerve-wracking especially the first time that you do it.
All too often, a good screenplay does not get produced because the pitch was not delivered in the right manner.
Why does anyone get nervous when they are presenting their work to people that they have never met before? The fear of public speaking applies to pitching a screenplay. Most of it comes from imagining the worst thing that can happen.
The fear of the unknown is common in most endeavors. But the more often you do pitch your screenplay, the less fear that you will feel because you become more familiar with the outcome good or bad.
Most pitch meetings only last a few minutes, so you will want to be clear, concise, and complete as possible. A good pitch consists of three elements: the hook, the content, and the motivation for an executive producer or investor to commit to your screenplay and make a movie.
This is what makes your screenplay different, interesting, and unique. Given that executive producers and investors have heard similar screenplays so many times, emphasizing the hook that makes your work different is an automatic attention-getter.
Now that you have their interest, get right to the characters and story. Use elements that they can visualize in their mind to help sell your pitch.
For example, the lead actor drives his car across the bridge is not nearly as visually interesting as Bruce Campbell races across the Golden Gate Bridge in his Lamborghini.
End your pitch with what makes you excited about seeing your screenplay turned into a movie or television series. This provides a reason why an executive producer or investor would want to see it produced as well. Frame it as an opportunity for them to be a part of something special.
Consider that a little fear is actually a good thing. It heightens your senses and helps keep you on your toes when making the pitch. The trick is to use the fear that you are feeling and not letting it overwhelm you.
This may sound fake to some people, but like it or not it has been scientifically proven that confident body language could help to get rid of anxiety or any other negative energy you have. By simply sitting upright and properly use your hands while you pitch, you can actually spike your confidence level. Though you might be faking that confidence at the beginning, as the session goes your brain will actually adjust your state of mind based on that confidence body language you perform, it’s almost magical.
When fear kicks in, your breathing will increase dramatically, and it will cause you to take quick and shallow breaths. That could be a disaster when you are pitching, because that way of breathing will affect your speech in a very negative way. You will speak a lot faster than you normally do. In fact, you might even speak faster than your brain can process the information. That’s why we often see someone is stuttering in a stressful situation, now you don’t want to be that person during the pitch.
As scary as it sounds, the way to overcome this issue is actually really simple; you just need to breathe calmly and deeply. A deep breath is a natural relaxant as a good amount of oxygen is entering your blood circulation.
Take a deep breath before the pitch, when the audience asks questions, and every time you feel uneasy during the session.
The people you are going to pitch to could be intimidating, especially if you’re pitching to famous people or those who have extraordinary movie titles in their resumes. You can deal with this issue by mentally bring them down to your level.
No matter how big they are in Hollywood, inside they are still ordinary people. They have families too, they drink coffee in the morning, they like to hang out with friends on weekends, they probably drool when they sleep, they are just like you. This is a good way to improve your mentality because you will feel more confident when talking to people at the same level as yours. You still have to treat them with respect though, just don’t put them on a much higher level than you. When you feel like talking to a friend, you will create a friendly conversation.
Believe it or not, the best way to pitch is NOT to pitch. Think of it like a good salesman who doesn’t act like he’s trying to sell anything, instead, they simply make an interesting conversation and give some details about the offer here and there within the conversation.
So what this has to do with overcoming fear? Well.. when we’re thinking about a pitch, we usually think about something structured, methodical, and formal that has to be rehearsed. Just thinking about something like that can be stressful. Just imagine you are pitching while constantly thinking about delivering the content in a specific structure and try not to forget every small detail, which would be very intimidating.
Learn to present your pitch with a conversational style. This way, not only your pitch will sound more interesting, but you will also be able to create a more relaxed atmosphere without stress during the session.
Just focus on doing your best and don’t be afraid of failing. Keep in mind that the worst thing that can happen is that your pitch is rejected. Considering that there are many other investors and executive producers around, the absolute worst thing that can happen is that you stop pitching your screenplay.
So never stop. Do not let rejections keep you from setting up meetings to pitch your screenplay. Exhaust every avenue in making your screenplay a reality. The only real fear that you must overcome is quitting before you make your screenplay a reality.
Maria works at Golden Way Media Films Company in London, UK. In addition to producing and directing she published 19 fiction and nonfiction books that are on sale online and at bookstores in Europe and North America. She has made both commercial videos and narrative films. Currently, she has two projects in pre-production.
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