Screenwriting : Do i need a screenplay before pitching? by Vasco Saraiva

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Vasco Saraiva

Do i need a screenplay before pitching?


I'm wondering if I need the completed script ready before I make a pitch. How does it usually work?  Do people expect me to have the script or they'll say, "ok, show me when it's done"? I get that it's better to have it ready, but I'm wondering. Since I have far more pitch ready ideas than finished scripts.

Vasco Saraiva

Thanks Laura.

Dan MaxXx

u don't need a script if you have a track record, box office data, emmys, Oscars, Obie, Tony, NBA rings, medal of honor soldier award... some evidence you are the best or an expert.

nobody is asking Lebron James for a script. he goes to ABC network, pitches an idea and bosses give him money to write a script.

So be the Lebron James of your field and you don't need scripts to pitch.

Chad Stroman

To consolidate what others above are saying, if you are not already working in Hollywood with connections to people who take idea pitches, then yes you need to have a completed, ready to "move forward" script. Studios/prodcos and financiers aren't interested in buying "ideas" (unless it's a published book, etc.) to develop unless you're a Christopher Nolan/JJ Abrams type.

Tony S.

There you go Vasco Saraiva become a SEAL and go on a mission where you get ambushed.

Dan Guardino

Laura. I don't mean to be critical but you missed one 9.

Shawn Speake

As a feature extra on LONGMIRE in New Mexico, I pitched a logline to directors and producers. A year and a half and many rewrites later, I'm finishing the script, and we're still in contact. Keep u posted.

Dan Guardino

I would say you need one unless you know the person you are pitching to pretty well because your idea will not be protected.

Vasco Saraiva

Thank you all for the comments. I guess it comes down to "not interested in buying ideas" situation. I forgot to say I would have treatments and detailed outlines for the projects I would be pitching.

Ian White

If ideas were worth $$$ we'd all be rolling in it. You can't sell ideas. Unless you're Chris Nolan or equivalent.

Vasco Saraiva

Again thank you all. I wasn't expecting to sell a treatment. But rather if I could get a producer/ financier attention with the pitch so later on I could show (not sell) the finished script. If they'de showed interest in the pitch.

Jorge J Prieto

Definitely YEAH and you need to know that screenplay inside out. Good luck, Stage has a great pitch service, a bit too short , but the more you do these pitches the better you'll get at it, My experience.

Shawn Speake

Great thread!

Sam Borowski

Many people have covered this already, but as most have pointed out, it's not a rule you need one, but unless the circumstances are special, you should have the script before you pitch.

Aalijah Amaro

Hi Vasco,

Yes and no. It's great to have a script sure. That shows that you are ready to show something you already have. Also if it gets picked up that will also be discussed if you are selling the IP itself or if you want to be apart of the project to work on it in a writers room. Because it is your project you will have that power to make that choice as well. But having no script is also not a problem. If you know your story and pitch it well then it's sold and you'll be brought on regardless.

I did a pitch not too long ago for a TV series, I had no scripts ready. But what I did have ready was a lookbook discussing the main plots and archs, the characters and why they are important, why the storyworld is interesting and also I brought in some real world relevance. Explain why you personally connect to it as well. Everyone has their own process of doing things. But just practice your pitch and get to the point. Be ready to answer questions in an instant as well.

Good luck

Richard J Karz

Vasoc you are on La La land nobody would buy squat from a never been writer.

Do the work man ! Otherwise move on

Richard J Karz


Mike W. Rogers

I would recommend it. I threw out a Log Line on a web site for a yet to be written screenplay and got an email of interest from a Producer. I had to rush the screenplay and I botched the whole thing. The screenplay is now a viable project that still needs some work!

Danny Manus



Patricia Poulos

Danny Manus, Yes -

Vasco Saraiva, I'm confused!! How can you sell something you don't have? How can you pitch a story you haven't written?

This week, after pitching to a producer I was invited to send my script, which I did immediately together with the Release form. If you have written your script it can't be registered for protection. If you haven't written it, there's nothing to protect. I can't see making up Loglines will get you very far.

Kay Luke

If you have an established reputation it's OK to pitch a Treatment. I saw it done many times at Morgan Creek by big shot Screenwriters. The operative words being "big shot".

Personally, I got my first production off the ground by just pitching a concept, but, small as it is, I have a hard earned rep for getting the job done among those who know me, and nobody doubts I can write a producible script.

And then there's Sorkin-- I'm pretty sure he gets option money when he sneezes.

Jim Boston

Vasco, I'd not only never pitch a project without a completed screenplay to go with it...I'd also never pitch that project unless the corresponding script was registered with at least the Writers Guild of America, West (if not America's Library of Congress). Anything to prove that I actually wrote the script.

All the VERY BEST to you, Vasco!

Phil Clarke

Kay Luke Absolutely. Though when it comes to Sorkin, I bet there's always a long conversation! :P

Vasco Saraiva

Thanks Kay Luke. It does make sense. Guess I'l focus exclusively scripts before any other kind of pitch. Happy Halloween.

Vasco Saraiva

Jim Boston, yeah the legal aspect/ protection of it is another factor. Thanks

Vasco Saraiva

Phill Clarke, how to you tag people here?

Phil Clarke

Put an @ before the name.

William Martell


Richard Geiwitz

In fact, the pros suggest you have at least two before pitching in case the pitchee passes on your first project and asks if you have anything else.

Vasco Saraiva

Jeff Saylor Thanks for the reply, but I do detect some assumption in your reply. And yeah, guess I got it the other day with Kay Luke ' s comment. All about "status". Thank you for your time thought.

Dan Guardino

Yes and it must be well written.

Max Adams

If you're pitching with the intention of getting hired to write the feature or pilot, you are going to need a sample that demonstrates the ability to complete a feature or pilot. No one hires writers on the basis of an assertion "I think I can write a script." They want to know, if they write a check, you actually can and the proof you can is a sample that proves you have done it before.

Vasco Saraiva

Max Adams Thanks, yes in my case I'm thinking of the specific script not being written, but several others and outlines and everything being completed.

Max Adams

Being completed, as in being completed in the future? Or are completed now? They have to be completed and available as samples when you do the pitch. Otherwise, it's just more of the same "I think I could do this," not "I have done this." And doesn't mean anything.

Donnalyn Vojta

Not always, but on S32 Pitch Sessions you do.

Vasco Saraiva

Max Adams Completed, meaning completed now.

Vasco Saraiva

Donnalyn Vojta Thanks, I was wondering about that as well.

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