Screenwriting : How do you like to structure your pitches? by Allen James Roughton

Allen James Roughton

How do you like to structure your pitches?

There are hundreds of pitches coming through Stage 32 every week and, as the coordinator, I've seen just about every approach out there. These experiences have shaped what I think a pitch should (and should not) include, but I'm curious what everyone else thinks.

So, how do you like to structure your pitches (verbal or written)?

Chad Stroman

Thanks for the webinar today. It was informative and at time's humorous.

William Carlton Brown

I enjoyed it. Now let's see if I can take some of this new found knowledge to perfect my pitches.

David Downes

Awesome webinar! Thank you!

Richard Buzzell

I like to start off my pitches with some begging, then I move on to pleading, then some cajoling, and finally I finish off with a few stinging death-threats. Not a lot of success with this format so far, but i think I'm going to stick with it just out of stubborness.

William Carlton Brown

Can anyone direct me to getting a pdf copy of today's webinar/manual. I was not able to do so during the live webinar.

Laura Scheiner

I structure my pitches differently based on what I'm pitching. For example in some cases, the genesis of the idea is a great hook - in other cases, not so much, it's just an idea that popped into my head that I developed. I try to let my passion for the project drive the way I pitch it and always make sure that the pitch itself reflects the genre of the project. I'm trying to get them to buy into me as a storyteller as much as I'm trying to get them to want to read the script. And I've learned that one of the most important elements of a pitch is not about what you say, but to make sure to listen.

Dean Balsamo

William i got an email today from Stage 32 with an on-demand link to the webinar yesterday and also a link for downloading the manual.

Raymond J. Negron

Hey Allen James Roughton Dean Balsamo Laura Scheiner William Carlton Brown Richard Buzzell David Downes Great job, on the webinar. Even though we had a frozen faced Nick Assunto at every turn, with different frozen facial expressions, haha! Awesome job! I'm curious, how do you establish a relationship with them before going into the pitch. In saying this, so your not just someone whose a robot or someone that cuts chicken heads off for a living and does it like a boss. Looking on tips to establish a quick rapport. Also, i'm sure knowing a little bit about the copany before going in helps. I persoanlly, broke my Intro/ connected to a personal story, then Beginning. Middle and End. 3 minutes on Act one and the rest on Act 2,3. Looking for more info. Thanks again for all of your greatness :)

Allen James Roughton

William Carlton Brown you can find the Pitching Guidebook when you click to watch the video on demand in your "My Education" section, but I've also copied the direct link for you here:

Allen James Roughton

Raymond J. Negron, I wouldn't worry too much about building that rapport before a pitch on Stage 32 as the execs are there to hear the pitches and know time is limited. However, if you know from their bio or a bit of googling that you have something in common, or really liked something they've done recently, feel free to share that. I've seen people land reads or meetings just because they shared alma mater at a small school.

If you are pitching someone outside of a strict pitch setting (i.e., not a pitch meeting, pitchfest or pitch session), it's important to build that relationship before you ask them to hear about your project or read it. A (very) general guideline is don't ask someone for a favor (a read, meeting, pitch, etc.) until at least the 3rd time you meet them. But obviously if they ask about your work, feel free to share!

Bill Costantini

I'm no pro, and have been out of the landscape for awhile, but I like to briefly explain some business aspects of my story (genre/subgenre, audience type, budget type, comps); state the name/premise/logline; introduce the themes, main characters, goals, conflicts; walk through the story world; get into how the main character tries to reach their goals, and how they are thwarted; and mix back and forth between external and internal conflicts, and how the characters evolve.

Hopefully I have surprised the exec a bit, who has no doubt "heard them all", or at least almost heard them all - except this one, hopefully, or else my goose would probably be cooked. I try to do all of that in a few minutes, so I can leave some time for Q&A. My rap has evolved from "And then this happens...and then this happens...and then this happens..." to what I described above. My objective is to tell a fascinating story that intrigues them, and my goal is to get them to want to read my script. Anything more positive than that is extra icing on the cake, and even if I failed at reaching my goal, I should still benefit with some lessons learned.

Written pitch: I like to follow the Stage32 guidelines. They're good.

Best of luck to everyone pitching!

Just to add: I've had some success in the past with options; a contract; a short-term gig at running a newspaper; and in reaching the desks of high-ranking decision makers. My most unexpected positive experiences have been from people who gave me a lot of good feedback on story, pitching, and their business needs. Those people displayed a "goodness" about them that inspired me, and I even was able to develop relationships with some of them. We hear a lot about the nastiness of Hollywood, and the stereotyped myths of "the industry", but there are a lot of good people in this industry who are willing to be helpful. I find those types of people to be really great humans. It's beyond just money to them. They love cinema, they love art, they love storytelling, they love writing, and they love helping others. That's the kind of stuff that can keep an aspiring script seller to keep going in an industry where the success rate can be rather intimidating.

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