Screenwriting : Pitch response confusion by Mark Kitchen

Mark Kitchen

Pitch response confusion

So I pitched a feature script to a Manager via the Pitch Sessions portal, but to be honest the response has left me somewhat confused.

What I got for my $35 was a simple numerical scorecard from 1 to 5 covering 7 elements relating to the story and the pitch. In the elements relating to the quality of the story, Setup, Conflict & strength of voice scored 4 out of 5. The originality of concept was scored 5 out of 5. All very positive.

The pitch format, clarity of pitch and clarity of tone all scored 3 out of 5. I find this somewhat ironic as I copied the format from the Star Wars example provided by Stage 32!!! Also because I don't see the relevance of scoring the format of a written pitch (all the Skype pitches were taken) as its nothing do do with the script idea being pitched.

What's worse is this experience hasn't really been of any use to me, since I knew prior to pitching that the story elements were strong. The first draft of the script already received a Consider from professional coverage, and the script quality has since been elevated after working with a renowned script consultant.

I wasn't expecting miracles from this one pitch, no dreams of instantly being signed etc. What I was hoping for was a conversation with a Manager about my script, and perhaps about what else I need to do to make a Manager want to sign me as a client. Unfortunately the pitch fell very short of these expectations, and will certainly make me think twice about using this service.

Julie Gervais

Thanks for posting this. I'm curious about the response as I'm currently trying to figure out which consult service(s) would be most helpful for 2 of my current projects.

Mark Kitchen

Ok so full disclosure, it seems there is a problem with the pitch feedback page containing the response to my pitch when I try to access via my laptop. The page doesn't load properly so when I click on it I only see the scorecard. When I access the link via the e-mail Stage 32 sent to confirm the feedback was in however I get the complete page, which contains a paragraph or two from the Manager on the script and pitch.

I think in future I'd choose the face to face option as the written pitch is a 1 way conversation with no opportunity to pose a question or 2.

Julie Gervais

Good insight, thanks! I bet they'll fix the page load problem but I still think I'll go for a 2-way convo.

Dan MaxXx

Yeah, I am sorta confused by the script services. Are ppl paying for education/feedback, or ppl paying to sign/sell? It feels majority aim for latter.

if you already got vouched by "renowned consultant", ask person to call rep for you.

Mark Kitchen

The coverage service is for feedback, but my belief was that pitching was for making contact with producers and managers to either sell your script or get repped.

As Julie has said 2-way conversation via Skype is going to yield more than the 1 way pitch. If nothing else it gives you a new contact

Julie Gervais

I think it's meant to be a kind of a hybrid -- we're paying for pro evals of our work but at the same time, the industry people are always on the lookout for their next project. Seems fair to me. I mean, who doesn't go into these sessions at least secretly hoping that the person will say OMG, I need to next-step this project, I love it so much!

Daniel Stuelpnagel

I've found great feedback through these channels, despite at least one really low scorecard rating, the next one turned out to be much more upbeat, informative and empowering.

Each person's opinion is only just one opinion, and the more you can target those industry professionals who are looking specifically for projects in your genre, I think that makes it worthwhile to connect with a few more possibilities that could yield better results. There are quite a few of them available in the database.

E. Amato

Mark Kitchen Thanks for this post. I'm curious about this, as well. About to submit a written pitch. I'm also looking at the Star Wars template. But I'm pitching a TV pilot, so it's not exactly applicable. I'm wondering if anyone has had success with the written pitches and if so, what format they used. The verbal pitch is so different from the written template that I'm not sure exactly how to create a successful written pitch. Insight welcome!

Dan Guardino

Mark Kitchen. They don't disclose it very well but these pitch sessions are supposed to be for educational purposes. I don't know if they are worth the $35 dollar fee because I don't ever pay for things like that.

Mark Kitchen

I feel Stage 32 need to do more to explain the purpose of the Pitching as it's clear from this short post that we all have different opinions and different needs. I'm looking to connect with Producers actively looking to read scripts, others are clearly looking more of a educational approach, a practice session in pitching, which is equally helpful.

The Star Wars template made sense, although the feedback I got suggested adding more comps in terms of similar films as well as a section on the world the story is set, as well as tone.

Amazing Kacee

Mark Kitchen I may suggest you research online how to write a written pitch as the example from this platform the one you used lacks many things in addition if you wanted more feedback having a reader on this platform might have been a better option, but if you wanted verbal feedback doing a verbal pitch is much better but you only really have 5-6 minutes to pitch and then wait for the executives to ask questions. But if you are looking for a manager, then I would suggest you do a script consultation with a manager of your choice who reads the script and talks to you over the phone for either 30 or 60 minutes. I really do not like the scorecard because it does not mean anything - I prefer the feedback but the feedback in itself is only useful if I am going to then send the script to that producer as each producer gives totally different feedback. Hope this helps!

Phillip E. Hardy, Scénariste


As the very wise CJ Wally said last week, and I'm paraphrasing, no agent or manager wants to sign you unless another agent or manager is already repping you. In other words, agents and managers are looking for screenwriters with track records that minimize risk.

I've done several paid pitch sessions and received some excellent feedback, and in some cases, what I thought was very poor. Despite getting several scripts reads and even connecting up with one of the producers for two Skype meetings, these paid pitch sessions have netted me absolutely zero. So my conclusion is if you're seeking some relatively inexpensive and basic feedback for your work, these sessions are worth the money. However, if you're looking to sign a deal with somebody, I believe the odds are fairly high against that.

In the past, I worked with a literary agency on one script and an entertainment agency with a right-to-shop deal. Both deals were unsatisfactory, and I asked the entertainment Agency for an early release from our agreement. I'm representing myself with legal advice from my spouse, and I'm having an excellent year. I have signed two option deals, and I'm currently starting an adaptation for a well-known IP. My advice to you is to be your own agent until somebody wants to do that for you.

Scott Frederick

I have only completed two written pitches, and I went into them with the idea of learning and refining the process, I was expecting criticism. This may be just my issue, but I have had no luck with the phone call or skype version. I wait for the call to come through and nothing. I check the app and it updates to "no pick up" or something to that effect.

Interestingly, my first written pitch got what it deserved...probably a bit more favorably so since this was my first time doing it, and it was pretty informative. The scores ranged from 2 to 4 and looking back at it, I fully understand why. My second one however was a bit more frustrating.

The executives are given 3 weeks from the pitch start date to provide the feedback and this second one took every second of that. So much so that it seemed like they forgot and only responded after I sent an email to Stage 32. I was cordial, since I do not know this person's work schedule or personal life. I worked pretty hard on the pitch this time and had to cut out some stuff because it states that it should not go over 2 pages. (Elements I had to take out for space ended up being some of the criticism I received.)

When they finally reviewed my pitch, every score was a 2. This seemed a bit lazy and the feedback given was all negative, it felt like I was annoying him and he got my $35 for doing so. To Stage 32's credit, they helped as much as they could and even gave me a coupon for the missed calls, so I have no issues with them. But as Daniel above said, everyone has their own scoring system, and this experience may reflect how it goes sometimes in the I took it on the chin and kept going.

I would like to at least have a dialog with the executives in the written form...maybe a temp. chat room or something that lasts 30min.

Doug Nelson

Knowing the credentials of the people to whom you would be helpful now wouldn't it be. If the pitches are clueless, then the whole educational purpose is pointless. No?

Mark Kitchen

Thanks for the comments, lots of great points.

Someone commented earlier that the pitching sessions appear to be more for education and experience than an actual pitch to a Manager or Producer looking to make a deal. While this is useful for those just starting on this journey, that's not where I'm at.

I've been writing on and off for the past 14 years, and have completed 13 features. I've also done the whole shopping agreement thing, which is worthless. All of my last 4 scripts received a Consider or better rating on Coverage from professional readers. My last script got a Recommend rating. I feel I'm ready to discuss representation, and don't really want to hand over money for a script consult with an executive if they're just going to tell me the same thing as I've got on Coverage.

Julie Gervais

Thank you again Mark Kitchen for this thread. Very informative as I'm much further back on the curve than you.

Jay Johnson

It's a great way to get eyes on your work and learn to massage it to fit the norms. Ironically this business of creatives is controlled by norms and normies.

Mark Kitchen

Doug I think you've misunderstood my comments. I fully understood the credentials of the person I pitched to, I even looked them up on IMDB Pro. The person in question was listed as a Manager and I had no reason to question this. The only assumption I made was that they were using Stage 32 to seek out potential new clients to represent, rather than providing an educational service.

This is because any time I've been involved in pitching in the past, either face to face or online, the purpose was to try and sell either a script or yourself as a writer. It was never done as an exercise to practice your pitching skills.

I also never said the pitches were clueless, but as the comments here have shown a lot of us have very different expectations regarding the pitching process.

And to be clear I'm not saying there's anything wrong with either interpretation, but there should be clarity on the purpose of the pitches so that people understand the service they are paying for. Personally I'd not have paid for the pitching session if I thought it was an educational service.

Dan Guardino

Mark. I am the one who said that the pitching sessions here are more for education because that is what the people who run Stage 32 say that is what they are for. Maybe you haven’t been here long enough to have realized that is what is for. Obviously, people can spend money on anything they want to but you can always pitch managers for free if you want one.

John Ellis

The folks at S32 have said repeatedly - and I believe make it very clear - that ALL of the consulting/pitching services are for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES only. There is no expectation, express or implied, of any further contact/development/follow-up from any of the pros on this site.

While I laud the clarity of Stage32's stand on their services, I also am of the opinion that for any writer who is beyond the most basic newbie writing level, S32"s services are useless. Any writer who is - for the sake of argument, let's not debate this - accomplished and has sellable work, the services on this site are a waste of money.

With no expectation of being able to build relationships, there's no point in spending money on any of the pros; because for any writer with the skill (again, let's take that as a given, for this convo), building relationships is the next step.

A better model (for writers) would be for S32 to vet work and, for writers that truly have a script/project that makes the grade, provide introductions to pros who would be interested in building a relationship with said writer. Do this for free, with the condition of a fee paid for facilitating the connection IF THE PROJECT GETS FUNDED. This would make S32 truly invested in seeing quality work get made (and create real value for writers), rather than being completely mercenary in their approach (like verybody else in the biz).

Okay, opinionated rant over. :)

Art Wasem

You may have been looking for a 30 - 60 minute call with someone. That is where they will give you more feedback. That being said out of the few pitch sessions I have had one person did request the script. What they are rating you on is the check boxes that most people want you to hit when pitching. It is a numbers game. When I started in the entertainment industry I sent over 300 submissions before I ever got my first hold on a song. Three years ago, six months before covid, I had just signed my fifth record deal. Luckily my only natural talent is tenacity.

Simon Foster

My experience is that many of the Execs are not actively looking for material - and they are doing this for a variety of reasons and generally in a personal role - it can be to check out new writers or just as a paid gig. Feedback can be pretty variable - from really useful script changing feedback to quite frankly a complete waste of time. I had a 'shopping deal' with one Exec who kept telling me he was too busy for meetings or development work (or any kind of progress) but he is always on here and on Roadmap writers. I've also done a written pitch (could have been Roadmap but the Exec is on here as well) - which got great feedback and a request to read - but then notified me that there would be a reading fee ($500) - as she was from a (legit) Legal firm, and that is what they charge to read scripts. So I am now kind of thinking if I have something new and I want feedback Stage32 is good - if I have something polished and really ready - maybe not. The service is Educational - but I have joined the Writer's Room - at least for a short while.

Ranyyaah Serraj

Hey Mark from Belfast, I have something to share with you, please accept my network request. looking forward to sharing with you.

Doug Nelson

It's for educational purposes only - that's what they say. It's not a magical portal to phantasy land.

Bill Costantini

Hi Mark,

I've pitched to a lot of people (paid pitches and non-paid pitches). I've learned that people can like your pitch (and even love your pitch), but the story is not the type of story that they are looking for at that moment.

That's important to realize - "it's not the type of story that they are looking for at that particular moment." And even that "type" could change at any given moment, too.

There could be specific reasons for those outcomes that are out of your control, and they might mostly have to do with resource reasons for the producer, like locations and sets that might be available to them. It could also be because the producer knows that the specific script that you've presented to them would currently be a hard sell to their backers[ or because the specific content is not aligned with their marketing goals; or for other nuanced reasons..

The script itself could still be "film-worthy", but the alignments just don't align, and hence, the rejection.

That's a hard thing for some people to understand and accept, but it's true. You really have to have the right script at the right time to the right person.

If you have several scripts that you think are professional and marketable, you probably should try to pitch to as many managers and agents that you can. They have better access to people who can make films, and a better understanding of who is specifically looking for what at any given time. And equally important (if not more important): they can help you get a writing/staffing job for something else. Wouldn't that be cool?

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Mark!

Mark Kitchen

Doug I’m not sure how to take your magical portal comment. I’ve been doing this a while now and any form of pitching I’ve got involved in was done to either sell a script or make important contacts in the industry.

It’s was never done for educational purposes, especially when they’re asking you to pay 3 times the amount you’d pay to pitch properly to a manager or producer on services like Virtual Pitchfest.

Phillip E. Hardy, Scénariste

Bill C: Good read your wise post. I hope you're doing really well.

Julie Gervais

John Ellis I think there's a service offered by S32 that fits what you're describing; it's called the Look Book or something like that. I didn't try for it yet bc I don't think my material is quite ready. Simon Foster OMG -- request to read for a $500 fee!? Did you pay it? Is that as super cheeky as it sounds, or is that actually standard? Doug Nelson, due respect but I don't think your comments are very constructive. The site has all of the available pitching targets on a page w/their titles & bios for us to peruse, and as Mark Kitchen has said, there's further info available all over the web incl imdbPro. I think most people purchase the services with a good idea of who they are addressing. And finally, we might be getting toward the end of this thread but I want to mention one more thing that probably muddies things up with these pitches -- the executives' pages often say that 'so and so LOOKS FOR ... certain types of content'. So whether or not the industry ppl are actually looking for diamonds in the rough under the heading of education, that language dangles a certain thought in writers' minds. Assuming we're all as good at reading subtext as we are at writing it?

Kiril Maksimoski

Complain to the officials, I think a refund is possible...and I know you'll probably say it's not for the $35 worth...but that's just sour capitalism dude...only your money's respected, never your opinion...

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