Screenwriting : I'd like to know more about *pitching* by Esther Farin

I'd like to know more about *pitching*

As opposed to bitching, which probably won't get me the job. Do various networks/production companies expect pitches to be in a specific format? Do you already need a spec script when pitching? I'm a student, please point me in the right direction. I'd love to do a first pitch, can you tell I'm eager ;)

Elisabeth Meier

Dear Esther, as a no name screenwriter you surely have to have a written screenplay when you are pitching. A pitch can be a short meeting, a phone call, a one page written pitch or a Skype session like "Happy Writers" offer them. What a pitch is for sure is SHORT. Hence, you have to know your script by heart and in every detail and be able to tell it within a few sentences because you don't have much time. If you can't tell your script in a few short sentences then you are not ready to pitch. About the format - if you prefer to write your pitch it's no longer than one page and tells the complete story, including the ending.

D Marcus

I agree with Elisabeth. If a producer loves your pitch they will want to see a screenplay. Imagine telling them, "Okay, great! I'll start writing now. I'll have a first draft for you in six weeks." What is even better is if you have three to five finished scripts. A producer likes your pitch but the story isn't what they are looking for at the moment. Imagine telling them, "Well, I have four others scripts. Maybe one of them is what you're looking for."

Esther Farin

thanks @dmarcus and @elisabeth - based on your advice i think i should wait until i have a few scripts within the same genre before pitching.

Hannah Strickland

I'll second the suggestion to attend AFF. Fantastic for screenwriters.

Esther Farin

Thank you @Jim and @Hannah This is all GREAT advice. I went from having no clue to having a solid plan to move forward with my projects. You all are the best :)

Jorge J Prieto

Esther: Elizabeth gave you right on advice. She really knows what she's talking about.

Esther Farin

Thank you @Jorge hope you are doing well! I have a four page outline for my film that I will work on condensing to one page so I can practice!

William Martell

There are two kinds of pitches: 1) Pitching a script you have written to try to get someone to read it (which is usually very short and to the point, an "elevator pitch" which focuses on that amazing idea that makes your story unique and interesting. Think: protagonist, physical conflict, emotional conflict, stakes, deadline - and maybe theme. But, as someone who has been on the other side of the desk and judged pitch contests, it all comes down to having that amazing idea that excites everyone and makes us want to read the script and buy it and make it so that we can see the movie. 2) And a longer and more detailed pitch when you are pitching your take on an assignment or have been invited to pitch an unwritten script because everyone has loved your previous spec screenplays.

Jorge J Prieto

Esther: You are welcome. Pitching, is like loglines , takes practice. Most importantly, in a live pitch, we have to be ourselves. Like, RB and so many others say: "be human. " " Now your movie, like the back of your hand." Write, write, write. You got this, girlfriend.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Lots of good advice. I' d add that you need to 'aim' your pitching. Look for networks/production companies which have done films in the same (or a similar) genre to that of your spec. And, yes, as a writer looking to get started, you should only pitch not only completed material but that which you worked on to the degree that is not just an early draft but is 'ready'. (You can look around on the web, including Stage 32, to get more understanding of that tricky concept, 'ready'.) Good luck.

Regina Lee

When you reach the point of pitching to networks, your producer/agent/manager/showrunner will help you refine your pitch. Believe it or not, TV networks do indeed have a format that they like. WB TV (a studio) actually wrote a brief pitch format doc that gets sent around within the Hollywood community, and we tend to use it as a guideline for a lot of pitches. But if you're not yet getting network pitch meetings, pay attention to the pitch format of pitching platforms like Stage 32, the Great American Pitchfest, Fade In Pitchfest, etc. These amateur formats (usually 5-8 minutes) are very different from network pitch meetings in which we are usually drilled from 45 minutes to 90 minutes! A "pro" network pitch is usually about an hour-long meeting. Break a leg!!

Esther Farin

wow this is all such great advice thanks regina, douglas and william and jorge thanks for your support. i've written my first one page pitch for my movie - yippee!!

Richard "RB" Botto

Support and feedback like this is why I love this community. Outstanding advice, guys!

Erik Grossman

Hi Esther! The biggest piece of advice I could give on pitching is to keep doing it, and keep practicing it on anyone who will listen. The first few can be nerve wracking, but once you have it down it becomes easier and a lot of fun!

Jorge J Prieto

Erik, is 110% right, Esther. Do what I've been doing, tape yourself, make sure you don't talk to fast, like me or too slow. Play it back, if it's more than 6 minutes, make adjustments. Have cue cards, with bullet points of your screenplay, in case you happen to lose your train of thought. Practice, practice and once again, no one knows your story like you, no matter how many years pass, your screenplay stays with you forever. Well, at least, this is what I have experienced.

Tammy Watt

Great Advise

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