Screenwriting : Pitching by Marla Dean

Marla Dean

Pitching

Would love to hear from anyone who has given a pitch at the stage 32 sessions? Have given a written, but never a live one. Give me your thoughts, tips, ect. . .

Ashley Stone

Hello, I did a written one a few weeks ago and then just submitted another one yesterday. I think every time you do any pitch and receive feedback, it's helpful. The feedback I received on my first one was short but somewhat insightful. I got an average of 3/5 on the scorecard so not stellar but not terrible either. I reworked it a bit with what they had said in mind and will see what my next scorecard says. I think I may slowly be working up the courage to do verbal pitch. It seems so much more personal and perhaps a little less formal as you and the executive can engage in a conversation. Not sure if this answer helps you but there it is anyway!

Marla Dean

Hi Ashley, Thank you so much for your infomation. I submitted a written, but have not received feed back yet and was very curious. It was very kind of you to alert me to your story. You helped a lot!

Kerri Philpott

Before I started pitching I asked a lot of my friends who watch a lot of TV and movies to let me practice with them. If I was pitching TV, I would ask them if they would watch it live, off their DVR, or when the darn well felt like it (Netflix, Hulu, boxed sets etc.), and for movies, I would ask them if they would pay full price, wait until it went into a discounted theatre, catch it on demand, etc. It gave me a little experience with an audience, but I also found it valuable when it came time to choose to whom I would pitch.

Marla Dean

Thanks Kerri, great idea

Claire Benedek

Pitching here gets your material in front of people who might otherwise not be so available to cold submissions. The feedback can be very helpful, but be aware that each exec has his/her own point of view. It isn't unusual to find yourself juggling conflicting comments from different people. Nevertheless, all input can be useful taken with an open mind.

Claire Benedek

Victor, as you know, nothing will happen at all without some exposure. These pitches can be a first step toward getting the representation to help move the project forward.

Bill Costantini

Victor - you should read about the success stories of people who participated in the Pitch Sessions available through Stage32, and then you can take your foot out of your mouth.

Bill Costantini

Pitching on Stage32 is a great service for aspiring scriptsellers. I've had four or five pitch sessions and have received nothing but great notes, insights and best wishes from those people. Where else can somebody from anywhere in the world get the opportunity from the comfort of their own desk, kitchen table or hot tub to pitch their scripts to established people in the entertainment biz? No where, that's where. I bet that even Puppy Monkey Baby would do it, if Puppy Monkey Baby had a script. I'm very grateful for the opportunity that Stage32 has provided us. You can even email Stage32 for some pitch tips and assistance. Good luck, future pitchers.

Bill Costantini

Victor - the answer to your question (one of them, at least) is to just take a look at the Happy Writers link at the top of the page, and you'll see all of the people that you can pitch your scripts to. You are aware of that link, and that people who have done pitches here have optioned their scripts, or got hired for writing jobs, or got their scripts in development, right?

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Hi, Bill! Good comment & thanks for keeping the vibe POSITIVE! (Next time you pitch from your hot tub + you need more champagne, Bill, give a whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you? :-D)

Al Hibbert

Every time you talk about your project you in one way or another pitching it. Victor, do not take this wrong- because you are in a strange way highly entertaining. You can't assume everything only from your own point of view. I've tried to 'share' a few of my limited experiences with you-but I will assume that people who are making pitches and writing and working in the entertainment industry have similar tales of working their proverbial asses off. If I get on here and pitch my script to someone- not only is it practice- but, you never know who you are talking to? There are some very, very successful people on this site. I've spent literally thousands of hours working on my stuff, before I even had the audacity to get on a site like this and talk to people about it. If you are asking these kind of questions and making these kinds of comments, then my suggestion is go do some wood shedding, come up with something great, and then, tell people about it. If they like it, something may come of it--maybe not. Like I said, don't quit coming on the site though- you are a funny and interesting guy- and please don't take that wrong. If you don't have something great to sell, nothing is going to work-not the internet, not a face to face, not the phone, nothing. You go out and play the world series without spring practice and a hundred and fifty games or so. You shouldn't pitch your project until your ready- unless the opportunity knocks and you got to make it count, and maybe you get lucky.

Bill Costantini

Linda - I suuuuurrrrre-ly do. Heh-heh. Good one, Linda.

Marla Dean

Thanks everyone for your invaluable feed back and strong discussions containing both the pros and cons, but at the end of the day, learning how to give a good pitch of your material is a must. I appreciate your thoughts.

Bill Costantini

Victor - there are those who can't, and there are those who won't. You seem to be a combination of both. Marla (and everyone else) - good luck with your pitches. Nobody ever sold a script unless they at first had the passion, courage and smarts to pitch it.

Anthony Cawood

Victor, as Bill pointed out the Happy Writers service on here allows you to pitch to Agents, Producers, Production companies etc... there is a list of forthcoming sessions and exactly who you will be pitching to, they may or may not request to see your script BUT it is access to the people that are normally difficult to get to. There is also the Jobs section on here where film makers are looking for a variety of resources, including Screenwriters and scripts. I'm kind of at a loss to understand why you are so down on aspects of Stage 32 that you haven't tried or used...

Al Hibbert

I wasn't trying to put you down in any way. There are tons of reasons people go to any networking site. I think that sometimes groups of people can and do forge their own alliances, which can do great things. I agree with some of your comments about entertainment. I mean how many CSI's can there be? But, everyone has been dissed at one time, or had the door slammed in their face at another. That's why artists have agents-because much of the time they are way to close to their own material. What most beginning screenwriters have to do is pitch it to the person who will pitch it pitch it for them-if the buyers like it-then, you might meet them. And, I have shared some of my experiences with you-go back and review the posts. But, like I said, you make some good points, and there is nothing wrong with being entertaining- you are a self professed entertainer- So that was a complement. Just don't under estimate people-or yourself. A web site that people can meet like minded people is an incredible resource and somewhat of a miracle in my opinion.

Al Hibbert

Anthony- I just checked out the Happy Writers screen- hadn't made it there yet- thanks for pointing out what should be the obvious!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, I'm at a loss as well. Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but one person's opinion is just an opinion—not fact. And sure, different people prefer different services. For truthful information about the pitching services offered here, perhaps ask those who actually manage it. You can send questions to assistant@stage32.com. I'd also like to add, that of course I have no idea if Steven Spielberg is on the site—logically, I assume not—however, a person who is associated with him might be. You never know. I do know there are people on the site who like to remain anonymous simply because of their positions. My point is: You never know who is glancing over forum discussions and checking out members. So.... I say keep all options open and do whatever works best for you. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sorry, Al, I was going to post the link—a little late, but here ya go: https://www.stage32.com/happy-writers/pitch-sessions.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh, and to further support some of Bill's and Anthony's great comments, and hopefully help in some way, take a look at the long list of success stories with Happy Writers: https://www.stage32.com/happy-writers/success-stories.

Al Hibbert

Thanks Beth- Have you pitched anything using the Happy Writers page? And what was it like?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi Marla. Perhaps this would be helpful to you; it's the most recent pitch prep audio webinar with Joey Tuccio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu2aM7Dhu4M&feature=youtu.be. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi Al. :) I have not pitched through Happy Writers—yet—as I'm currently working on my screenplays and getting ready to do so. However, over the holidays, I did find myself suddenly talking to an Indy producer and a cinematographer at a friend's party... I didn't "pitch" per se, only answered questions in casual conversation. The producer days later asked me to send him my script. He then gave me a great review, which was fantastic, even asked if he could pass it on to an actor friend. I don't think anything will ever come of it, but it was a great experience. :) This may sound flippant, but I truly don't mean it to be... I mean it to be more cautionary, or perhaps practical—before pitching, we really have to ask ourselves, objectively: "Am I ready?"; "Is my concept/story the best it can be?" I think what can happen, or perhaps what sometimes backfires on the person pitching, is coming out of the gate too early. Perhaps the script isn't quite ready, or whatever the issue may be. Granted, putting yourself out there is a good thing and gaining experience (good or bad) is always helpful. I just think it's wise to make sure all your ducks are in a row and that you've prepared in some way. First impressions are so important. :)

Al Hibbert

Beth, I agree with you. But, I think that once a studio gets a hold of a work, and if they actually decide to produce it, then they are probably going to do 'some' re writing, possibly even move some components around, etc. I think every writer wants to be so careful, so this won't happen, and it won't be a 'free for all' on your script, and .they keep most of it is maintained pretty close to the way it was originally written. Not to mention actors. who are going to make it their own in some ways. I think the good film makers and actors study the original extremely hard before they 'change' anything, making sure that they understand the voice of the character, and what kind of person the writer is trying to convey, before they do that. Ed and I even went as far as writing more than one episode (way more), just to make sure that it was going to be a great show-before we even thought about pitching the pilot. I never really understood how you could determine from just a pilot that you had a good show? I think they look more at that than we think. So many variables.

Al Hibbert

One thing I know that I'm not good at is acting--although I did star in my second grade play "Terrible Terry's surprise". It got a standing ovation from my mom and everybody else's mom who was in it! I would call that a success. And, I did play a role in our first rock opera. And I was in the chorus and was a disciple in a local production of JCSuperstar-my brother still makes fun of my super white feet in sandals!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Victor, excuse me? Casual type of something? You don't even know exactly what I was describing or who (the producer) I was talking about!—a bit presumptuous, no? And to answer your question, yes, I would consider your interview with a magazine and the podcast a success. Any success, small or large or whatever, is a success story. Whatever keeps you moving forward.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Jim, yes, I've heard many members have had success with VPF (virtual pitch fests). Have you tried the Happy Writers Online Pitchfests? They seem to sell out quickly. :)

Bill Costantini

Beth - great job, and I hope it leads to something for you. And your cautionary words are something that everyone should take to heart and head. There's probably nothing worse as a writer than to blow an opportunity because they think they knew it all (about their story), when in fact they didn't and probably came out of the gate too early like you said. I've been there, done that, and even got the gate as a souvenir. One of my favorite songs from an old cowboy goes like this. You better know right, and you better know wrong, You better know the words, when you're singing a song. You better know weeds and you better know flowers, You better know the sun doesn't cause them rain showers. You best believe if what you know ain't true, It's gonna kick you in the face, like a stubborn ole mule. If you don't know that, then you don't know this, One of these days, you'll never make a miss. I loves me those old cowboy songs.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Ah, a cowboy song... I love it! Thanks, Bill. Yeah, it was interesting... I mean, when I said "I haven't pitched through Happy Writers—yet" I was just referring to Happy Writers. Lol! The pitching I've done has been through meeting people. Some people I know have such connections that I'm not going to ask anything of that relationship until I'm completely ready, and only if they are okay with it. I don't wish to put anyone in an awkward position or lose that friendship or blow it! The most success I've had is through networking and friends. Personally, in my life, I've done a lot of pitching as an artist and when I worked in advertising. So, talking about a project in a room full of people isn't too difficult for me. But with that experience, I've seen pitches go bad. It's usually two things: 1) the person wasn't fully prepared, and, 2) the person was over-confident or out of touch.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Victor, I did read it again and again. And I said "casual" as in conversation, I didn't mean "casual" as in nothing stood out. That was your interpretation. Frankly, that "casual conversation" got me a script request! It may not have been through a formal pitch, but that's certainly something, yes?! Not nothing. Look, let's just chalk it up to a misunderstanding. No harm, no foul. :)

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Bill, I love old cowboy songs. I also love the "old world" sayings Grandma used to say: Si pigliano più mosche in una gocciola di miele che in un barile d'aceto. [American translation: You can catch more flies with honey than a barrel of vinegar.]

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, I love that saying, LindaAnn. So true. :)

Melissa Willis

I did one over the phone (because Skype wasn't cooperating) and it was pretty helpful. They passed - it wasn't what they were looking for and there are some things I need to work on; but he told me exactly why they passed and ended with everything I did well, which was nice because I know what my strengths and weaknesses are both in pitch and script.

Beth Fox Heisinger

One tip, Marla, that I've heard repeatedly from members who have done a lot of Skype pitching—perhaps you already thought of this—is to tape cue cards or notes or little reminders around your computer so you can quickly and discreetly refer to them if momentarily lost or forgetful when nervous. The trick, of course, is not to look or sound like you are reading. Never read. As Joey often says, "Never be a robot. Always let your personality come through." I hope that helps. :)

Marla Dean

Great idea! Thank you. Not quite confident yet for the live pitch, but getting there.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Skype is fantastic! I've met people from overseas, done interviews. Many of us here on Stage 32 Skype regularly. It's a great tool. You can truly engage with someone. Another tip: think about what's around you; what is visible. During a Skype pitch, you don't want any distractions for your viewer. Set the stage. If you can't move your computer or set up in front of a blank wall, or a simple space, just make sure the space behind/around you is clean or clear of clutter—you know, make your bed, move the stack of books and papers, and your laundry basket, out of view. Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Marla, you said you've already given a written pitch, so I assume you may have the written pitch templates created by Joey Tuccio? They just give straightforward information on what is generally expected, which is the same for both a written or virtual pitch. You structure both the same. If not, send me your email address through private messaging and I'll send them to you. Or just reach out to Happy Writers, send the request to assistant@stage32.com. Another tip to build confidence: practice with a friend or family member—someone you're comfortable with. They may not know the industry but they can give you a review on your "performance." Could you hear me? Was I making sense? Did I sound like a robot? Lol! Or, record yourself and see where you could improve. They say practice makes perfect, right?! Oh, and be sure to listen to the pitch prep audio webinar link I listed previously within this thread. It's helpful. Anyway, I'm sure you'll do great when you're ready. :)

Bill Costantini

Linda - my nana used to say something like "Stupido! Mettere le mani fuori della salsa, o si sta andando ad ottenere di nuovo il cucchiaio!" (English translation: Stupid! Get your fingers out of the sauce, or you're going to get the spoon again!) Even though it was a big wooden spoon (and she could surely swing it like all nana's could), it was worth getting thwacked every time, since my nana made the best sauce, of course. Heh-heh.

Dan Guardino

@ Victor. Right on! I agree you want someone that will give you honest feedback. If someone doesn't offer honest feedback they are lying to the person that asked for it.

Bill Costantini

Lol....Here cometh the Greywolf again.....telling the whole world that social media doesn't work...even though its continually helped many people start or advance their careers, brands or entertainment products. Ah, Greywolf....your Stage32 posts have quickly become the stuff of Grumpy Groundhog Day legend. I could set my watch by your Treasure Trove of Tragic Tropes.

Dan Guardino

@ Victor. I am sure there are other times I agree with you but didn't post it.

Anthony Cawood

Victor, I think you may be in a very small minority with your opinions on social media, skyp etc... you do know that Stage 32 is in essence a social media site?

Al Hibbert

I wish I was paid to endorse Skype! Are you kidding? I'd endorse almost anything- within reason. I would like to say that I, being a relative idiot when it comes to knowledge of computers, might in fact myself blame Skype if my computer crapped out when I happened to be using it. Hell yeah I would. My Dad was a successful salesman because he would get up earlier than anyone else and find a payphone ( no cells back in those days) and camp out and make the first appointment of the day with his clients. He said sometimes there would be three or four guys lined up to use the phone that he would recognize in the lobby after he walked out with the sale. I was thinking about what I was saying about some of the big networks such as ABC, NBC and Bla bla bla- earlier, but, although to people on the 'outside', they would seem very rigid in wanting to do what's already been proven and not make a move on anything until something like it has been done somewhere else- it wasn't always that way, but it is today,. That means they're mostly working in house and selling the brand of 'cookies' that they know is going to bring them so many bucks etc. ( nothing wrong with that)- but, good luck in pitching to them. But social media, my God, I mean compared to the days when you actually had to get up off your ass, and drive somewhere, or fly somewhere and knock on doors and stand in line for payphones ( and to think of how a great of an improvement pay phones were considered at one time?!) we are so lucky!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Skype is a free tool often used for online pitching—the topic of this specific thread and thus related to the original poster's question. Webinars and sometimes meetings utilize GoToMeeting. How else can you bring people from different parts of the country or the world together simultaneously?—which is what Stage 32 is all about. :) Sure, different tools work for different people, but many of these are becoming commonplace, certainly in this industry. Whether we like them or not is irrelevant—personally, I can't stand Twitter. Again, just use what works best for you. There's no need to put others down for their choices. Let's keep this respectful, folks. Thanks. :)

Dan Guardino

@ Peter. I think Skype is a great tool for those people that want to use it. Personally I don’t want to use it so I don’t. That doesn’t mean I am going to be less successful than those people that do use it.

Anthony Cawood

Skype stats - http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/skype-statistics/ Highlights... 300 million users... 3 billion minutes PER DAY, users spend on Skype.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Guys, please, with all due respect, let's get back to the topic of the thread. How is any of this helpful to Marla? Or helpful to those looking for pitching tips? Besides, I believe everyone is in agreement: "Use the tools that work best for you." If you'd like to debate or argue about the use of various social media, or their values, then perhaps start a different thread in "Anything Goes." Thanks.

Dan Guardino

@ Peter. I am with Victor on this one. I am pretty up to date on technology but I just don't want to use Facebook or Skype to promote my screenplays or me as a screenwriter. I don't even have a webpage. There is nothing wrong with what you do or what other screenwriters here do but that doesn't mean people that don't do what you are doing aren't going to have some success. Screenwriting really is a tournament career and nobody here or anywhere knows what will work for anyone. It is okay to say what you think works but it isn't okay to tell other people what they do or don't do will result in failure because that is not the case.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan, any pitching tips? As a screenwriter/producer, what have you experienced?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Peter, any tips about pitching to offer? What have you experienced?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Anthony, have you done some online pitching? Have you picked up some tips? Last we spoke you were getting ready to pitch or perhaps considering the possibility, right?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Bill, you previously mentioned that you made the mistake of "coming out of the gate too early"—we've all done that!! What happened? What did you learn from that experience? Was that an online pitch or in person?

Al Hibbert

I'm not trying to be facetious - but, I would recommend going to a nice tavern, and trying it out on some of the people there. I'm also not trying to be rude or inappropriate in any way, shape or form Beth, but, you could get any guy in the world to listen to your 'pitch' and then you could see how they react to it. Just saying. You are obviously an attractive woman (I'm married not flirting), You can see in person what kind of reactions you get trying different approaches. After trying it out on some ''patrons'', then you would have also ingrained into your subconscious and it would flow naturally when you get your moment. I know I'm not Peter or Anthony, but, I bet it would work better than anything.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha, Al! :) However, at the end of the day, it all boils down to your idea, your script. How good is "it." If you're dealing with serious, thoughtful people who take their work seriously, looks have absolutely nothing to do with it. The producer I met was very serious, kind, he's done a lot of Indy films, years of experience, screenwriter too, reputable... His wife is a producer as well. I didn't think the subject of my small story would be of interest to him, as it's about mental illness. It wasn't until days later, maybe a week, after he thought about it did he request my script. Actually, the fact that it could be filmed on location was of interest to him too. So, my experience pitching scripts has been more informal. With that, I have learned in those situations, sitting back and letting the person you're "pitching to" ask the questions, lead the discussion. Never push. Never be desperate.

Anthony Cawood

Beth, I'm registered to pitch to Ghost House Pictures at the end of the month, where I intend to use my British charm and wit ;-) Will report back on how that goes!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh great, Anthony! I can't wait to hear all about it! :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Peter, any pitching tips? Looking over your long list of occupations on your bio, I'm curious... What tidbits have you picked up along the way? Anyone pitch to you? If so, what worked? What didn't? ...Never let them see fear in your eyes. Lol!

Al Hibbert

Exactamente, Beth- The less 'formal', and the more 'natural' your pitch is, the more relaxed and receptive the buyer will be- on any platform- If a person is blessed with looks and charm, I would think that face to face would be ideal, if a person is not as good a salesman, or is a little socially awkward, then an agent might be better to pitch it for them- but, even then, you have to pitch it to the agent. This is all assuming that the story is interesting, and ready to go. With all of the the massive amounts of time that people spend writing a great story, it's very well worth it to go out and talk to people about it. Free test marketing --and it can help the writer see first hand what aspects of the story are best to lead with. In my story, I would lead with one aspect with guys and another with gals.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oops, sorry Peter, I missed your post for some reason. My bad. :) Yes, great tips: be knowledgeable; know exactly who you are pitching to and how to utilize that information; use all the tools available to you—I couldn't agree with you more! I was curious because of your research background. The points you bring up actually support my little cautionary comment about "coming out of the gate too early." Many people are so excited about their ideas, or they are so anxious to have some sort of traction, they jump ahead of themselves. It is prudent to slow down, think it all the way through and fully prepare before taking that first leap of pitching faith. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Al, yes, charm and persuasion — powerful tools indeed! Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dan, I was hoping you would share some wise tidbits. From a producer's perspective... How have others pitched to you? Or perhaps, in general, what do you think works well? What doesn't?

Bill Costantini

Beth - this is almost like a live-action thread. You've brought a whole new meaning to the term "Moderator," thanks to...ah...never mind. Heh-heh. To answer your question that you asked me earlier - one of my face-to-face pitches.... the producer asked me what was the "mythology" of the world. It was a supernatural thriller, and I kinda winged it on the spot. He smiled when he saw me struggling...and said "you didn't quite figure that out, did you?" He was right - he nailed me. But he did tell me exactly what type of supernatural thriller that he was looking for, and agreed to read my script when it met his needs. At another one...the producer was liking my story as I was conveying the plot. He asked "tell me about the major dualisms of each of the major characters. They seem kinda flat." Yikes...didn't quite have those dualisms. The kicker on that one: the day before the pitch, writer-teacher extraordinaire David Freeman gave us a lecture on that very topic. Talk about foreshadowing. At another one...the producer told me exactly what kind of "women in peril" script that she was looking for, and I made up a pitch on the spot. She smiled at me...they always know when you're bs'ing or winging it, and give you that all-knowing smile...and said "you have that finished?" I said "yep." She said "bring it in tomorrow." Busted! But she laughed, and told me she'd read it when I finished it. After I finished it, she did read it, and made some suggestions for revisions. All three of these producers are pretty successful and accomplished in the business. Those were some pretty significant moments for me. Each time it was like..."make or break", at least in my mind. But they all told me exactly what they were looking for, and asked for scripts, or revisions to my existing scripts. They all put me on their "radar". They wouldn't have wasted their time with me if they didn't have some kind of hope in something that they saw in me or in my stories. That's what some great producers do. They want great stories, and love great stories, and are really hoping that a writer can give them that. And some will even guide a writer into that, like they did with me. And even in every failed pitch, where people didn't put me on their "radar", I always was able to take away some "lessons learned." And every single one of those people were very cordial, very professional, and very enthusiastic with me, too. I was clearly able to see their love for film, and how it seemed to quite simply exude from them. It just made me love Hollywood, film, and the film industry even more.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@ Victor - Yes, I speak Italian + other romance languages. [The university I attended required fluency in TWO foreign languages.] @ Bill Costantini - my great-Aunt Lena used to say this before meals: "Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto!" {American translation: Eat well, laugh a lot, love as much as you can.] :-D

LindaAnn Loschiavo

@ Anthony Cawood - - much success with your pitch session + best of luck! x o

Al Hibbert

Peter, how important in your line of work is test marketing?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Great stories, Bill! Lol! Thanks for sharing. Those are lessons we all learn at some point, certainly through trial and error. :) Peter, thanks for further expounding—great information, very helpful. :) Yes, it's so true: you never know what will happen, or what someone will think, or what you'll be asked when pitching. All we can control is ourselves, our material and our outlook on life—as it's often said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." :)

Al Hibbert

Definitely, thanks- you have an encyclopedic mind for marketing. It can be useful, in that you can hopefully make some refinements before full commitment. Don't you think?

Dan Guardino

@ Beth. I am not ignoring you I just don't have time to add anything to this right now.

Anthony Cawood

Lenny Abrahamson's letter that he wrote to Emma Donoghue, the author of Room, to persuade her to let him film Room can be found here... An alternative pitch for sure, but one with Donoghue said resonated with her... http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/298019985/Room-Letter

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Dan, no worries! I completely understand. Thought I'd try to pick your brain—just a little, at your convenience, of course. Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thanks for sharing that letter, Anthony. Very interesting...

Anthony Cawood

@Beth - great film too if you've not seen it!

Marla Dean

Great posts and as always am learning so much from all of you.

Marla Dean

Thank you Joey, I am listening to it right now.

Erik Grossman

Hi Marla! I've always found with pitching (especially verbally) it's best to remember exactly what you are there to do. Don't get too caught up in production or development details, just focus on telling a 4-6 minute version of your story - the star of which really needs to be the characters (versus the plot points). Make sure at the end of the pitch it's clear how your main character is a different person than he/she was at the beginning! It also may seem a lot easier to do written pitches, but the best verbal pitch blows the best written pitch out of the water every time!

Al Hibbert

I was going to say the same thing as Peter. Great points! Great advice! But, Erik, couldn't a character also have to fight to 'not' change?- maybe it's somebody on the streets that's trying to keep on the straight and narrow, and they are faced with all kinds of temptation etc.- but they were already a good guy?

Erik Grossman

Yeah, I think you're absolutely right, Al! I believe the key is making sure that "the struggle" is felt in the pitch - whether it's a character trying to change or NOT change, that internal struggle is more important than the external plot-driven struggle.

Jorge J Prieto

In this industry, more than any other, you are going to get more no's than yes's , but just have to move on, keep working, you will only get better with each new screenplay that you write (I see it in work) from years ago to today. This passed November, I had one of my best experiences here, thanks to BETH and her idea to invite every screenwriter here to join her on a 30 day Writing Challenge and for the first time, I completed a screenplay in 3 weeks, with the support of everyone involved. My point, if I had not joined Stage 32, I would have never attempted at writing a screenplay in 30 days or less. THANKS again, my dear Beth. HOPE never quits.

Regina Lee

Here's a pro tip. In my experience, if the exec asks a question that you don't have an answer for, don't say, "Good question, I haven't thought about that." I can only speak from my own experience in "Hollywood," but that kind of answer erodes confidence and sometimes it can indicate that you've been "lazy" in your preparations. Think of a better technique and be prepared to use your chosen technique when you're confronted with a tough question. Use questions as your friends. Use them to portray yourself as someone who's taken a very deep dive into your own project. We want you to be an expert in your own material. We want to feel confident that you're the best one to tell this story. Good luck!

Regina Lee

Here's a post I wrote for another thread that might be relevant: Jerry has posed an enormously challenging question. In addition to the advice that has preceded me, I'll add that some stories simply don't lend themselves to pitches very well. For example, True Detective was fantastic, and it is an execution piece. That story is extremely hard, if not impossible, to pitch well. It wasn't sold as a pitch. It was sold as two scripts plus additional materials. Nothing wrong with that. Typically, film projects that are more concept-driven, less execution-based better lend themselves to pitching. In TV, characters and their dilemmas are the basis for a pitch. For example, Vince Gilligan says that Breaking Bad is about a cancer-stricken teacher who transforms from "Mr. Chips to Scarface." Awesome pitch. My point is that some stories are less pitch-able, more execution-dependent, and those might not gain as much traction via pitch fests as more pitch-able projects. Winning a prestigious contest may be a better route for stories that do not lend themselves well to pitching. Good luck!!

Jorge J Prieto

Thanks, Regina, excellent point about some stories are less pitch-able. Peter, your wife is right, I say: Hope never quits. Joey says: Be yourself , be a real human being in your pitches.

Regina Lee

Another post I wrote for another thread today: Hi Ashley, first, listen to Joey who knows best how to pitch on S32. Second, since we haven't heard your pitch, imo, it's impossible to give specific advice. In my experience, I've heard writers pitch the plot without coupling plot details with character details. For example, if I'm pitching DIE HARD, I could pitch out the plot, and you'd understand what is going on in that movie. However, if I couple plot details with character, I'm painting a much fuller picture. For example: John McClane overhears Hans Gruber saying he's going to blow up XYZ. John is terrified. He's thinking, "how in the hell are my wife and I going to live through this night?" He gathers himself, even says a prayer." That's just an example of how you might couple plot details with character, state-of-mind, emotion, etc.

Laurie Ashbourne

Comng to this thread very late, because guess what? I'm busier than shite due to the connections I've made via social media. I haven't read all 125 comments, but I must say Victor, for someone so down on the benefit of social media you seem to dedicate a lot of time to it. As for the OP question about pitching, Marla -- relax and consider the live pitch much like a conversation with someone who asks you about your project. Practice to the point that you can hold a conversation about your project. Meaning if someone asks you something midway through, you can pick up where you left off. I enjoy the pitching process and there are many success stories that come from these (mine included).

Marla Dean

Hi Laurie, A converation, that really puts into perspective. Thank you. Marla

Anthony Cawood

As I promised earlier in the thread... here's my report having just pitched to Romel Adam at Ghost House Pictures... 1) It was suprisingly intimidating, partly as it was the first time I'd done it, and partly as I'd struggled to prepare in the same way I would for say, a job interview. 2) I definitely garbled and spoke too quickly, but I think I got the major plot points across. 3) I was pitching a medical horror, I should have emphasised the horrific further. 4) There was a little bit of time left at the end... I should have has a question or quip ready. All in all, I'm really glad I did it. I will definitely do it again. I will prepar more next time and I will slow my talking down. I will let you know if I get a request (I doubt it). Anthony

Al Hibbert

I talk too fast when I get nervous too.

Melissa Willis

Thanks for sharing your experience, Anthony! Best of luck to you!

Dan Guardino

Al & Anthony. One way of getting over being nervous is to make a lot of cold calls to production companies and eventually you'll get better at it and build more confidence. Remember these are just people like you and me.

Al Hibbert

Good morning Dan- I have really only experienced the talk too fast phenomenon, lately- I had a reading of the a previous draft of out TV script- I talked way too fast, because I thought I had limited time to get through it (and I was nervous)- turns out I had plenty of time and I should have relaxed. Since then, there's been a complete re write - and I'm going to try to get them to do a second one. I appreciate the advice- I"m probably not the one who is going to do the actual pitch- my co writer lives in California- but, it never hurts to practice. Thanks very much for the advice.

Erik Grossman

Hey Anthony! Erik here (mediator from your session)! I think you were great! We don't give out results of sessions in the lounge here, but I would make sure your script GRAFT has no typos and is ready to go :) You should get your report or request from that session soon!

Anthony Cawood

Erik, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for the tech help at the start ;-) Re Graft, wow thanks, and yep it's ready!

Jorge J Prieto

Anthony: Thanks for sharing your experience, brother. You got this!! You make us all proud.

Anthony Cawood

WOW, despite my reservation I have had a request from Ghost House for my feature Graft! Thanks to Happy Writers, Eric the moderator and Beth for running the Nov Write Club!

Melissa Willis

Wow! Congratulations!

Marla Dean

I am so happy for you!!!!! I haave gotten so much great information on this thread!

Jorge J Prieto

Anthony!! What did I tell you 3 days ago, brother. You got this! Now you really got it. Congrats.

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