Screenwriting : Written Pitches by Nick Nichols

Nick Nichols

Written Pitches

Would be interested in what people think of doing written pitches. I just did one for a couple of pitch sessions, and have no idea how effective they will be.

Simply preparing it was a big help in honing my story idea even further. So I think it's positive in that regard.

Thoughts?

Pamela Bolinder

Verbal pitch, written pitch, carrier pigeon, a small plane banner flown over their home; (you get the point) any effort to get the logline and synopsis in front of someone who will move the script should be used! By midnight, I will have the last revision of my script by a dialogue editor. Then, I will wage my all-out marketing strategy. Screenplay contests are not one of them. I agree a contest gets you out there; however, it in many ways parks the script. I like Stage 32. Someone may be scouting scripts.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hi Nick. Any and all writing helps to hone your skills, absolutely. But pitching itself requires yet another skillset. Keep in mind, with a written pitch the pitch recipient is only seeing the words on the page; there’s no opportunity for a back-and-forth exchange or questions, plus the recipient isn’t talking to you directly, etc. Therefore they can only form an opinion from what you have given in writing. So your written pitch must be excellent. Your concept may be great, but if the pitch is muddled or written poorly it may not come across clearly to the recipient—that goes for a verbal pitch too. Just my two cents, writing a one-page or a written pitch for practice or to help suss out your story is one thing (a good thing). Taking it to the next level and actually pitching to someone, professionally, who is considering the project for production is quite another. Me, I would reserve pitching until I am completely ready and know every aspect of my story, inside and out. ‘Cause, man... those first impressions are important. ;)

Pamela Bolinder

Thank you, Beth, I appreciate your comments. I know my story inside and out. I just need to grow the Christmas balls to do the verbal pitch. I pitch my script all the time to friends. Once to a carpenter who was doing work at my home. He stopped working, sat down at my dining table and listened. Pitching to a professional that I don't know scares me. Any suggestions to overcome that? Why can't my script speak for itself? I actually do public speaking and enjoy that. I'm not sure what holds me back from pitching.

Allen Roughton

Getting your entire story boiled down into a couple pages always helps you hone your idea. I actually like to do these after a first draft so I can look at the project as a whole and see what is and isn't working before starting my next draft.

In terms of succeeding with a written pitch versus a verbal pitch, as the person who coordinates the sessions, I can tell you we don't see a big difference or preference. When I started, I honestly assumed verbals would do way better, but that just didn't turn out to be the case. If the pitch is good, it doesn't matter what format it's delivered in.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Pamela, nervousness pitching? Oh yeah. So true! Lol! I dunno... everyone is different. We all feel anxious. Being prepared certainly does help. I've done public speaking before too, and had to "pitch" when I worked in advertising/branding as a design/art director. Maybe you're nervous because it's your work and "you." Cause you are not only pitching your script but yourself as well as someone to work with or represent—whatever the case may be. So... I'd say just keep doing what you're doing, keep practicing. You've written a pitch so perhaps work a "speech" outline from there. Know it forward and backward. Be prepared for questions. Be yourself. If Skyping and fear you may "blank out" in the middle, you can leave yourself little reminder post-it notes on the edges of your computer screen. But no reading! ;) Maybe record yourself. Or pitch to someone, a friend, over Skype as a test. Can you hear me? Do I sound like a robot? Am I rushing? Do I have good eye contact? Are there too many "you knows," "ums" and "ers." You could also research the person(s) to whom you are pitching. Are there any videos or interviews of them talking about their projects? Their company? It's a way to familiarize yourself with them and their company which may make you feel more comfortable. Anyway, there is much information online. A Google search brings up all kinds of tips. Hope that helps!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thanks, Nick and Allen! :) Just to add... one of the pitch recipients (an exec/producer) kindly shared thoughts with me and said what they like about verbal pitches over written pitches is that they can ask questions, that there's a rapport, a back-and-forth. But... it's good to know, generally, that it's good either way. Whatever works best for you and the project. :)

Dan MaxXx

I am waiting for the first pay to pitch website to do face to face speed pitching. Something like speed dating, 10mins or less. Can save $ on office space and host at Starbucks now that customers don’t have to buy coffee to sit.

Pamela Bolinder

Beth, thank you for your comments. I took notes =) Good idea to try to familiarize myself with the pitch recipient.

Derek Reid

Seems like a lot could go wrong in a video pitch. Oops the internet went out. Oops my software program messed up. Oops I have to act dynamic and wear a real shirt.

Joleene DesRosiers

I've done written and Skype. I was successful with Skype...but not yet with written.

Was I nervous, Pamela Bolinder ? Yep. So I shrunk my Skype screen down so I couldn't see the executives. I looked in the camera, but I made them itty-bitty in the corner. Helped me immensely. Since then, I've done speed pitching at festivals, pitch parties, and regular 'ol, conversations that turned into a pitch. I get better with every one. Less nervous. But I still don't have the art of written pitches down yet.

Nick Nichols

Joleene, at the risk of sounding trite, what if you wrote a first draft of a one page pitch, and you treated it like you were explaining your story to a friend. For example, I wanted my brother to have an overall idea of my story. I wrote with him in mind, and then went back and revised.

Joleene DesRosiers

Nick Nichols , you don't sound trite at all! All good.

I've gotten high marks on the written pitch, ironically...they just choose PASS. I think having a conversation and getting to know someone is far more valuable.

Pamela Bolinder

Hey, Joleene. I just read your comment. Thank you for the excellent ideas. That's just scary thinking there is a bunch of executives in the room. I'll be reaching for oxygen! Wink.

Bill Albert

Make sure you do research on the proper format for a written pitch. I watched the webinar about things you need to say and wrote it with all that in mind. Way off base and not of the execs would comment on much other than the bad format. Reworked it and immediately got much better responses. Very constructive. Don't forget the font.

Pamela Bolinder

Hi Kenson. I was told it is all about timing. Recently, I received feedback from a fellow Stage 32 creative that thought my script (Family movie) might be a hard sell. There has to be room for Family movies. That said, I appreciated his honest feedback. Your scores of 4 and 5's are really good. I'm getting ready to work on two scripts I have in the wings. If they are looking for high-octane back-to-back action then I'm gonna give em exactly that! Hang in there. =) May I read your script?

Eric Christopherson

I think whether written or oral pitches are best depends on the exec.

Elisabeth Meier

In addition to all above I can only say that it also depends where you live. It's hard to pitch in a fresh, concentrated and energetic way at 2 am from outside the U.S. because of the time difference. :)) Hence, I'd think it then is better to send a written pitch.

Vaibhav (Monkenstein)

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Phil Parker

Highly recommend doing verbal pitches whenever you can. This business is all about relationships. Execs can obviously get a better feel for who you are that way.

Pamela Bolinder

What about introducing your work using a written pitch? If they are interested in the script then talk to them in person. I still can't figure out how much pitching costs. I get the initial fee.

Eric Christopherson

I'm going to have to disagree a bit with you, Phil. I agree Hollywood is a relationship biz, but I don't believe it's possible for a screenwriter to form a meaningful relationship with an exec, an agent, or a manager prior to bowling them over with an actual script. So I think the face time, whether virtual or not, becomes important after you have a new fan.

Pamela Bolinder

Phil, I just read your article '8 Moves I Made to Secure My First Paid Screenwriting Gig!'

Thank you for your insights on the topic.

Elisabeth Meier

Pamela Bolinder I never pitched via Skype, but I remember someone telling his experience in my very first days here at Stage32. I think it was a fellow screenwriter from England because he told us he booked 5 pitching appointments at once which were appointed one after the other with some time between so he had to pitch through a complete night. I remember it so well because he wrote about how nervous he was and how terrible it was to wait and stay awake until midnight or so (time difference) when the first pitching began. Long story short he said that was the best he could do because the first pitch was terrible, but in the last he felt relaxed and was doing much better and so he said even if nobody would accept his script he himself now knows how live pitching works. So, you will only lose your nervousness by doing.

Mary Helen Norris

I've pitched both ways and I prefer to do Skype instead of the written because I feel like expression my passion for my story is easier when I talk.

James Drago

Enjoyed this input Elisabeth Meier and Mary Helen Norris

Hanson-Howard John

I'm now doing my first pitching which is written and i don't know how the outcome would be. Not nervous, anything can happen.

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