Screenwriting : Pitch Sessions: My experience v. Yours by Dain F. Turner

Dain F. Turner

Pitch Sessions: My experience v. Yours

I have submitted a synopsis to three different producers/content people on Pitch Sessions at $30 a pop. Same synopsis to all three. One liked it but passed, one felt it needed work and passed, and one said he found it offensive, and of course, passed. This one made me chuckle. All in all, I found it to be a waste of $90, but I'm not complaining, I just wanted to see what would happen and $90 was what I was willing to lose. I don't know if a skype pitch would do any more good than a synopsis, but I have the feeling it would be the same results. Just wanted to see what others have experienced from these Pitch Sessions?

Donald Dominguez

I have one in now and another to be read in short of a week. Let me get back to you...

Beth Fox Heisinger

Perhaps look over Happy Writers Success Stories. :)

Shia Shabazz Smith

I participated in 2 pitches and got 2 requests... of sorts. The first, a Creative Exec, requested the pilot I pitched, and the second, a Producer, requested an "extended pitch," whatever that is, on the film project I pitched. I submitted a written treatment. I am waiting to hear back on both at this point. I haven't had a "success story" yet but I am hopeful based on the scorecard and feedback. Not sure if that helps but good luck.

Jerry Robbins

I have three screenplays I've been pitching (I do the written pitch), getting mixed results over the past few months, and never a request to send the script; one producer liked my horror pitch, but said it was a bigger budget than he was looking for; I pitched my animated musical to another who said he "couldn't wrap his head around it being a musical" even though we already produced a version as an audio drama musical and won two awards (he didn't know that of course) - and another passed on my horror script with nothing good to say. And there were several more along the same lines. I took all of the comments and realized that my pitch was weak and was not selling the screenplay. A two page pitch is not my strong point... so I studied up on pitching, re-wrote all three, and pitched two of them earlier this month in three pitch sessions... and all of them replied back with amazing and positive comments, high marks on the score cards, and all of them requested the screenplays to read. I had pitched my animated musical to a major studio on another site, and also got a good response and a request to send the script (after a major re-write on that pitch as well). It was an expensive lesson, but now I know - the pitch has to be a page turner and as exciting as a trailer.

Dan Guardino

Jerry. Congrats. You should go into the pitching biz. My agent writes mine because I don't like doing it. It is funny how many producers give feedback from a pitch. Most of the producers wouldn't know pitch from a pass.

Jerry Robbins

Thanks, Dan - I think I worked harder on those than I did the actual scripts! It's good to hear your agent does them for you -- now I want an agent more than ever!! :) Cheers!

Kaye Bewley

Might be a good idea to visit the 'Education' area on this site. You could spend half that on learning how to grab attention about your great story. Good luck on future pitches! Kx

Donald Dominguez

There's definitely success stories through this site. Here's the link to them. We shall never give up! Whoot Whoot! https://www.stage32.com/happy-writers/success-stories

Kaye Bewley

Hey Donald, I clicked that link, but it said 'you've ventured too far' and couldn't find the page... ?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi Kaye. Just go to "Happy Writers" located in the top menu bar, scroll down to "Success Stories/Testimonials" and click. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi Claude. Well, people often choose the option that feels comfortable to them, which is always a good thing. ;) But with a Skype pitch, the pitch recipient is able to ask questions. There's opportunity for a back-and-forth discussion, a conversation. With a written pitch, the pitch recipient can only go by what is on the page. So if the written pitch is confusing or not well written... Well... you can see how being able to ask immediate questions is beneficial to both sides. ;) Hope that helps!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Some have indeed been signed. And, respectfully, some people prefer their privacy. Can't force members to divulge their business dealings or meeting details, especially in a public forum. The fact that so many have landed meetings and/or have received script requests is good to me! As Laura said, this business is a long shot. I certainly appreciate the positive things that happen. Lol! :)

Dain F. Turner

Beth Fox Heisinger Never wrote anything in the way of forcing anyone to divulge anything, but looking at the responses it seems to be something of interest to a few people.

Todd Bronson

Is there a cumulative percentage between those scripts that are requested by visual pitches compared to written? To quote Kiss, "Oh, Beth what can I do?"

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dain, not sure what you mean. Lol! But whether someone chooses to share things (or not) about their career or experience or a meeting or a pitch result is obviously her/his choice to do so.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Wow, a Kiss reference... haven't heard that in quite some time! Lol! ;) Yeah... sorry, Todd, I do not have that information.

Justin Kwon

I've always submitted written submission due to my lack of verbal pitching skills. I've submitted two so far -- and honestly, I loved the feedback I've received. The first person loved my pitch, but unfortunately, their company wasn't producing scripts in my genre at that time.

The second person (a producer) gave me incredibly detailed notes (more than he was required to) because he said he saw potential in my script, which he found really interesting, and told me to reach out to him again whenever I completed a rewrite or if I ever had any questions regarding his feedback.

Everyone has both great and terrible experiences. Personally, I've thoroughly enjoyed my experiences with Stage 32 Pitches.

Joleene DesRosiers

I did a Skype pitch last year. The producer was interested in my screenplay. But four weeks later he said, "Sorry. Your script is overwritten."

I took that information and started working with an optioned screenwriter through the Jacob Krueger Studio in NYC. (I work better one-on-one with someone.) Over the past year, she helped me polish two of my pilots.

Fast forward to today. One of those pilots, I submitted a written pitch to two different producers. One said: PASS

"This idea feels very similar to other shows, and also feels fairly one-note. There doesn't seem to be any b storylines, and I don't see how this show realistically lasts many episodes. I think the idea is interesting but needs to be further developed."

The other said: PASS

"Fun original concept with a clear voice and tone. Perhaps needs a better title, and a more traditional pitch format. Strong main character, once it became clear that she's doing this to avenge her daughter's death..."

So one said it WASN'T original. One said it WAS.

What did I do with this information? Well that day, I beat myself up pretty good. But after I tool my head out of my ass, I realized their feedback doesn't mean it's shit. Someone, somewhere, will love the CRAP out of our stuff. As far as I'm concerned, I paid someone to read my script.

I did the written pitches because, by the time I got to it, those were the only options available. I will do Skype the next time.

Dain F. Turner

Beth Fox Heisinger I was referring to what you wrote. Here, I'll cut and paste it "Some have indeed been signed. And, respectfully, some people prefer their privacy. Can't force members to divulge their business dealings or meeting details, especially in a public forum." I was just responding to that.

Dain F. Turner

Joleene DesRosiers I think too many people put too much stock in other people's opinion, which is really what I think I received, opinions and not critical analysis. Of course, in these pitch sessions, we're not paying for critical analysis, we're looking for someone to buy, or at least option. Still, it's important to learn to tell the difference between opinion and critical analysis. When I receive opinions, I just shrug it off. Furthermore, in written pitches, it's very difficult to really get across your idea in two pages, especially if it's situational comedy, which is what I mostly write.

Dan MaxXx

Has anybody else tried to write snappy email queries to the same people/prod company charging $30 to read 2-pages? I don't see any difference. Both are just read requests. Nobody cares how you submit as long as the materials fits their (buyer) agenda.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, Dain, I know... my statement, and hyperbolic use of the word "divulge," was to point out that it is up to individuals (those who pitch, not necessarily S32) to share further, more specific personal career information/pitch results/meeting details, which may or may not be deemed confidential or perhaps private, etc. If I were to be asked to share, I would say "no," I prefer my privacy. And please, do note my use of "Lol!"—just poking a little fun at your statement, "Never wrote anything in the way of forcing anyone to divulge anything." :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan M: NO!!! NO, please DO NOT tell members to inquire directly with those who are hearing pitches through Happy Writers... especially if a person has already done a pitch and now may try to go around HW coordinators and connect with execs directly. That will end relationships!!! We have lost valued members to such rude practices! Please respect members' individual submission policies and Happy Writers' submission policies, which states: "Do not reach out to the executives unless directed by Stage 32. They do NOT accept unsolicited material or appreciate being cold-called/emailed by strangers."

Julia Bobkoff

With each pitch session, whether Skype or written, I have grown regardless of outcome. It's kind of like sprinting. I try to come out of the blocks with enough force and fire to improve my time. I analyze my technique later and readjust accordingly. No matter how much I prepare every race is a little different. The more I train and compete, taking advice from different coaches (even a lack of belief in my projects fuels me ), the better I hopefully get. Or maybe I should have compared it to online dating! There's a lot of crazy adventures and humorous fails before some real chemistry happens. We all need that hot contact to swipe right!

Dan MaxXx

Beth

I am not suggesting to sneak backdoor Hw exec, I am sayin sending email queries the old school way to prod cos & execs

Obviously if a person got rejected the first time by an Exec thru HW, contacting again on your own is stalky and rude. Pass is a pass. Accept and move on

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan M, unfortunately, again, that has caused the loss of relationships. I'm not talking about rejection... I'm talking about community trust.

Donald Dominguez

Julia, that was a refreshing commentary and I couldn't agree more with you. I am fueled by the nervous energy I receive from submitting pieces. Usually, I feel like collapsing once my piece has grown wings. I welcome the input from colleagues, reviews from the Producers, good or bad. At the end of the day, its me they're talking about and that's the point of it all. Getting out there.

Kaye Bewley

Hi Claude, I do understand what you mean. And at first, I did have some thoughts about those fees. But, if we step back and look at the bigger picture you'll see that it's a very good deal. For instance, this whole S32 site (unlike IMDbPro) is being provided to those with a common interest - for free!

The only way the S32 guys probably get their money back - or get paid for doing all the behind the scenes work for us - is through education, courses and books they sell.

For that reason (and a ton of others), I quite welcome that $30 fee. Especially if it contributes to keeping this site free for the majority, then great! I'm all for it.

Another point to consider is, we're not forced to pay the fee. In this (glorious?!?!) internet age we are never at a loss to unearth other means to connect with people. This option is an excellent one. If you want to learn from the best and connect with the most lucrative producers/directors via that paid pitch session, then go for it. I think this could become a preferred method for those professionals at the hub of it all, too, as it keeps the numbers controlled and their time is very short.

Anyway, that's my two penneth.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Claude, it's access. Access to people. As Kaye pointed out, who is forcing? This is a personal choice to pitch or not. To take a class or not. The site is free. No membership fees. No listing fees. S32 is a small, niche site with a small awesome staff. It offers a free platform to connect with likeminded, creative people to share ideas, information and offer support. Most of us volunteer our time, like myself. I'm not an employee. Many hard costs are not passed on to members. S32 provides connection and a platform. And it provides the coordination and management with each of these execs to provide access without having to travel. You can pitch right from your own home. Gotta pay for this service somehow and the staff, right? Gotta keep the lights on. Gotta pay for the server. I have no issue paying a small fee. If I choose any of the services here myself, then I pay for it too. Plus there are so many other options, websites, contests, pitch fests, etc, out there. Many are openly discussed in the Lounge. So, again, the choice is yours. ;)

Justin Kwon

Agree with Kaye and Beth. I've always been a firm believer that people's time is worth money -- expecting a free service (beneficial to both parties or not) is somewhat ignorant, although understandable.

Honestly, I find the $30 fee a bargain, especially since you're able to research the company that you're pitching to and their previous works.

Krista Crawford

I did a written pitch and got a meeting request with an exec who gave me great feedback and even though my script wasn't ready for prime time, we have kept in contact and his guidance and knowledge was/is continues to be an asset that I wouldn't have gotten without Stage32. To know that I have someone to reach out to in the industry, who is invested in me and my writing, that's well worth the $30 to me.

Oracle Laura

I know you can't get what you want without putting yourself out there but I also know how it feels to be let down so many times after you give your all on your end. The past 4 years I've been approached with offers from over 30 TV Producers who said they wanted to give me my own TV Series & although all of them insisted nothing lacked on my end none of them followed thru until just recently & now he's going thru the exact same problem trying to get investors to sign. LOL. All I can tell him is "I know how you feel!" All I can suggest is never give up & eventually the RIGHT fit will find you & see your worth. So far I've been a guest star on CKNW twice, SportsNet & a very big LA Top TV Series (episode airs this Winter Season). Don't give up!

Pat Savage

Check out Happy Writers Success Stories Dain!

Dan Guardino

Oracle. Good luck with your projects. I have six products in development so I know how it is playing the waiting game.

Elisabeth Meier

I would take it as what it is - an experience you paid for. So far so good. When I joined Stage32 a fellow European screenwriter told about his pitching experience via Skype. So, this is second hand now. He said he really had to manage the appointments that he had one pitch after the next. 5 in a row. :)) Because of the time difference he didn't sleep and of course was very excited. The first, he said was a disaster, the second went better and in the last he felt relaxed. If I remember it right then the last one was even interested and asked to read it, but didn't buy the script. In the end he just learned how to pitch for the amount of $ 150.

I think, pitching via Skype or in the written form is a question of what kind of being you are, but one should try both. I haven't done it yet, because I find it strange to pay for that I might present my work. I understand that this selects serious writers from unprofessional, but it's still strange and I think you have to pitch more than once or twice to get a feeling for whether your script meets the taste of producers or not.

Dan Guardino

I hate pitching which is why I don't do it anymore. However I used to call producers and agents on a daily basis when I was starting out and after a while I got pretty good at it. So like anything people do get better with practice.

Steven Michael

Would cold-calling work in today's world? It's also been said that queries are frowned on, especially for unproduced writers. Just asking.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I just read most of this thread through and here are my observations:

1) Jacob Krueger wrote one respectable television movie with another writer and now makes his living running a consulting school/business for other screenwriters. So I would hardly consider him in the same league with writers who make a consistent living crafting feature film and televisions screenplays. He may run a great program and if that's how you wish to spend your dough, that's a beautiful thing... for Jacob. I looked up one of his classes and the price was $375.00. For that same money, you could buy 12.5 pitches from the Happy Writers folks.

2) Three pitches is hardly a significant number when you're trying to make connections in the film industry. Three hundred is more in line with what's required to make some progress. And, as my experienced and learned friend Dan MaxXx pointed out, he made three hundred pitches and got 15 responses, which equates to a 5 percent success rate. That's probably a pretty accurate connection barometer for making sales pitches to strangers.

3) I can safely estimate I've probably made 22 pitches (more or less) with happy writers and connected with 6 producers/directors. So I've been blessed with about a 27 percent success ratio with getting script reads. Out of those six reads, I recently received my first request for a meeting with one the producers. This meeting will take place sometime in early January.

4) I’ve made several connections using Inktip, which have netted five right to shop agreements and two option agreements. Since Inktip costs me 65 dollars every four months, that has provided the best bang for my buck. My relationship with producer Steven Roeder has lasted four years and has gotten my work read by executives at Paramount, Tyler Perry Productions, A & E, William Morris Endeavor, Emmett Furla's Oasis films, History Channel and a few other places that escape my recollection. Additionally, I had a brief relationship with a literary agent who pitched one of my scripts to four clients. I also met and worked New Zealand horror producer David Blyth and received several miscellaneous script requests that went nowhere. Finally, I have a producer/director shopping my latest script and he's very enthusiastic about the prospects of selling or securing funding for this project.

5) I've used some other services including ISA and Craigslist and have also made some connections. I was paying ISA 10 bucks a month but found most of their leads went nowhere. This included wasting a great deal of time working with folks overseas on a television show that turned out to be a train wreck but was a good learning experience.

6) I received two leads from writer's groups on Facebook this year that netted two screenplay requests from a producer with a fairly impressive track record. I've not yet heard back from him.

7) I read posts by unproduced writers discussing securing an agent or manager but personally don't know anybody who has signed with one. I've been doing this for five years in earnest and wouldn't solely rely on anyone to handle my activities. I suggest you consistently pitch to anyone who might be interested in reading your work and then look for other ways to get your foot in the door. For me this has included work for hire situations, doing interviews, blogs and competing in script contests and films festivals.

8) Be relentless and myopic in your quest to find opportunities. And, try to have some fun doing it.

Steven Michael

Good info Dan, thanks. Sorry for the hijack Dain.

Dan Guardino

Steven. If you call don't blurt out the fact that you are fairly new.

Viquii Johannesson (Vicki Johnson)

Dan, how long did it take to hear back? I'm still waiting for my response from a written Pitch. They should at least follow up.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi, Viquii. In general, a written pitch response return time is around 3 weeks. Perhaps check your specific confirmation information. If you have any questions or concerns send them directly to Script Services: WriterHelp@Stage32.com. ;)

Maxwell Highsmith

I pitched yesterday (11/16/2020). I enjoyed myself. I did the phone pitch because all the written pitches were sold out AND I could not get my Skype to work right. Made the arrangements. Received my confirmation. Read the hint and clues. Set my schedule aside and waited. Between all the above, I searched the internet and found an interesting tidbit on Film Courage YouTube Channel. The article said, "Some people just won't get you". I listened and decided to #EatTheHayAndSpitOutTheSticks. Best advice that I ever took. I listen to Film Courage constantly for everything else film so figured "Why Not?' Call came in. We spoke for (8) minutes -maybe even 5. I loved every minute of it. Will something come out of it. I don't know but I'm now scouring the list of Pitch Possibilities and Potentials because I don't write on one genre. I create content across genres and across delivery methods. Note: I would recommend anybody to read this to check out Film Freeway dot com and The Black List dot com. #NeverHaveAllYourEggsIn1Basket. Hope that helps.

Maxwell Highsmith

Thanks for all the Intel folks.

Kiril Maksimoski

Last time I was pitching, was 'front of a live audience of some 50-60 producers, distributes, directors, staff at a Film Market...got an applause, few shoulder taps and exchanged some contacts...however I felt personal accomplishment and wasn't so into actually selling the script, also missed one-to-one meetings as I had a 600 km ride to catch...was my son's birthday the next day.

Carmen Mosley

I have a written pitch due this weekend and doing my first Skype Pitch first week of December. It is eye-opening to hear everyone's experiences with this kind of pitching. I think with such a huge pool it is hard to stand out - but the experience is worth some money too - I agree

Luciano Mello

I honestly don't think it's a waste of money. I had my first script coverage, and it was two passes, and a review that in other times, would have broken my heart and provoked the ire of my ego. But today I look rationally and objectively. These services are expensive for me because of the exchange rate difference, but they are important in the development of the story and the project. As a writer and director we sometimes get lost within the breadth of the story, we know the characters and the world around us well. However, just as we know our families well, but we are not always able to explain to others who they are, because their perception is based on the story you told. After 4 years of research, I wrote a script with more than 200 pages, and I rewrote it until I reached 130 and finally 115, gave it to friends and colleagues to read, made more changes and got lost in the story and feedbacks.

The perception of who can finance or put it on the path to get financed, is very important since my goal is to make the film. The criticisms I received speak a lot about the person who read it, but they are reflections of the story we tell. For me is important to understand from where in the story, the reader got his view, more than his personal opinion about it. With that in mind I can evaluate the points the reader mentioned to work on, what I can change or maintain to tell the story I want.

Having this opinion is great, because it allowed me to get out of the story and see it through different eyes, it allowed me to connect to the themes of the story and the narrative. I don't think this is losing money at all. I understand how it affects us, but it is always a valuable learning opportunity. Can't wait to start my pitch sessions, I'm still working on my pitch and I recently participated in Pitch Tank and it was great. I agree that you can't bet only in one way to produce your story, but this process has been great for helping to refine the story I want to tell.

Holly Jurbergs

Jared Iacino's Stage 32 webinar on pitching is excellent. It's also a way to look at your script in terms of emotional highs and lows. You have to practice pitching in front of strangers to improve. I feel like I've gotten the most bang for my buck with 30-minute script calls with producers who read my work. Script development notes have helped me get out of my head and let me see my writing through from someone else's perspective.

Holly Jurbergs

I’ve rewritten my second script, and I will try pitching again. I’m entering it in a few contests. I’m also developing the story as a dramatic podcast which has been really fun.

Peter Roach

Pitching and reviews are subjective.

I have had responses that were meaningful and in depth. I had a couple where I could tell that the reader just skimmed the material.

Every meaningful review/pitch gave me an opportunity to improve.

Don’t give up. Read the responses again without emotion. Look for the specifics where the reader did not quite get what you meant. Use that to clarify your pitch/script.

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