Storyteller is up to Bat – Here’s the Pitch
I haven’t actually performed a “live pitch”, or even pitched over the phone. Though, the art of the pitch and what’s involved is constantly on my mind. Based on my own persistence at screenwriting and consistently working to improve my skills, the opportunity will come when I have to make my first pitch.
To get me started, I’ve read a small pocket book titled “Ten Minutes to the Pitch”; it appears to serve as a last minute guide for the ill prepared. From the surface, most of the information contained in this book appears valuable. However, upon further reading, the simple dialogue and checklists only serve to boost moral before your big meeting.
Like a Tarot Reader that can connect generalized stories and situations to lead you down the road to believing you are the descendant of greater good, “Ten Minutes to the Pitch” contains eighty percent of what I already know. Plan, schedule, checklist, and stick to plan, have a backup plan, and make sure you make the meeting on time. And by the way; be sure not to start your pitch until you’re actually in the room. Yeah, I know. I know. I’m not ****ing Rain Man. For this reason, “Ten Minutes to the Pitch” can rest on my shelf for all eternity.
Give me the Skinny! The Inside word! I want to know exactly what to be prepared for.? Let’s talk about industry situations in detail. Let’s hear more stories about industry pros and their experiences with the pitch, the good and the bad. I don’t want to know what you’re doing at your house or in-between your house and the studio. I want to know about all those situations that can play out when you step up to the plate.
Around the same time I garnered inspiration to write screenplays I remember reading several articles about Miramax and the guys behind the studio. Bob and Harvey Weinstein; Harvey was known in Hollywood as the Ball Breaking Studio Chairman that would tear your heart out if he didn’t like your script. Even worse, if you already worked for him and pitched a script he didn’t like, you’d be fired for wasting his time. How Matt Damon and Ben Affleck got into Harvey’s office to pitch their script remains a mystery… but I’m pretty sure Kevin Bacon had something to do with it.
— It was really Kevin Smith.
What it comes down to; you want to dazzle the agent or producer without breaking a sweat. Your pitch delivery should be natural and peppered with the right amount of excitement. You want the agent or producer to feel like they’re actually experiencing some of the scenes you have created. But don’t go overboard. You should leave only a little bit of mystery for the agent or producer wanting to hear more after every story arc. This will keep them reeled in.
Pitching can’t be all that hard, right? If you’re a writer, you’re a storyteller. You just have to condense your story down to an Oscar winning performance that sits somewhere between two minutes and ten minutes. Essentially, what you want to achieve is making your pitch sound so intriguing, the agent or producer will want to read your script, take you dinner and meet your wife. Oh, and of course, write you a check.
What you will need in your bag of skills is stage presence. Are you a performer? It would help if you’re already an actor, but then again, if you were, you probably wouldn’t be writing your own scripts. You need to be comfortable in front of people, maybe a lot of people. Oh, and you will have to deliver your pitch with a certain degree of enthusiasm and control. I’m sure there are many different methods of delivering a pitch; it’s how you present yourself and deliver your story that will matter most.
Imagine your pitch meeting is like a job interview. I’ve had several job interviews over the last couple of years, some in front of a couple people, some interviews in front of a panel of six people. Every interview went a little differently, the questions were different, and the people were different. The thing that remained consistent for each interview was me. The material I was delivering was my background and experience. A well structured pitch that was pieced together with all the important elements in a logical organized order.
What I’ve learned… Even though you may be comfortable in these situations delivering a pitch, you need know your material inside and out. You need to know your script better than the next person.
Think of your pitch like an Origami. It’s small, it’s intricate and it’s captivating. Choosing the right elements to fit inside your Origami will make or break your pitch.
Believe in yourself, sell yourself, and sell your story. – David L. Spies
Learn to pitch like a PRO! at: Screenwriting Expo 2009
Oct. 15 – 18, 2009 Wilshire Grand Hotel Los Angeles, CA.
Attend: Pitch Boot Camp & take part in The Golden Pitch Fest!
– David L. Spies