PITCHING: a facebook discussion

I will be pitching my work over lunch to a Hollywood producer next week. It’s a first for me. What do I need to do, aside from printing for him my scripts and loglines?

    • Awesome! Good for you. How many do you get to pitch, or are you planning to pitch?

    • I’m planning to pitch one script, one pilot and one treatment.
    • Howard Casner Does he do TV and features? If he does both, have a few pitches for each. If he only does one, have a few pitches for that. But there’s no point pitching a pilot to someone who doesn’t do TV, for example. Start with your strongest or the one you are most passionate about and then if he asks for others, be ready with those. Have at least three pitches for either features or TV, or both if he does both.

    • Okay. But how do you pitch? Is it synopsis you need to recite? Is it the logline? A mixture of both?

    • Howard Casner It’s best to check a few books or others who are more expert, but start with log lines. If he wants to hear more, he’ll start asking questions. He’ll probably start with some variation on “What do you have for me” and you give him a log line. You might want to try to find some people who have done this and see if you can practice on them.

    • Thanks, Howard! I’ll try to research some material on pitches until then.

    • Practice your logline and pitch until you can say it in your sleep
    • The Memphis Filmfest had a little pitchfest contest in front of four produced screenplay authors, who then critiqued your pitched and gave a prize for the best. For it there was a logline then a two minute synopsis and then Q&A. But that was a more of a practice for one of those cold pitchefest scenarios. I assume you have an interested party so that might make it a different animal. Just don’t get in a hurry to sign anything until an agent and lawyer look it over… your agent or lawyer. Excited though you may be, this is a business transaction. Let all of us be excited for you… and envious as hell.

    • I’ve been in L.A. this week doing just that. I would suggest (humbly) chit-chatting…finding a common bond, getting to know the person a little and ease into it. Don’t make it feel like a sales meeting, but make sure you get your ideas out there. You’ll know quickly if the idea is anything they want/need/are interested in. And then slide out of that and onto the next. Make sure you know what they’ve produced, ask what they are developing, it gives a real sense of what to lead off with, what may not be in their wheelhouse. Pitch just the log line or general idea and if they are interested more, they’ll ask. But overall, ENJOY IT! It’s a very social business and if the person likes you, it won’t be a one time meeting and you’ll have an open door for a long time.

    • Thanks! I’m going to watch some of his movies tonight on Netflix, and see what he’s able of. He sounded very accessible on the phone.

    • Congrats! My two cents would r to know your story inside out.

    • Pitching is something that’s a bit artform, a bit technique, and a bit “What was that???”. Mostly that last part.
      But just a few quick things to put in the back of your mind:
      Make sure your pitches give him what he wants and needs to know. Don’t get bogged down in details, don’t try to explain things that can be better served with a quick analogy or metaphor.
      Understand he wants reasons to sell your projects. Get a feel for what he is more disposed toward and use it as a selling point. As cynical as this sounds, your fascination with the glass ceiling in the field of Women’s Swim Competition coaching might not be as interesting as the idea of athletic women in wet speedos. (and, by the way, selling on one point doesn’t preclude the other).
      As has been stated, rehearse your pitches. They need to be fairly quick, definitely concise, absolutely intriguing and leave with a feeling of wanting to know more.
      Don’t argue or be defensive. If he has suggestions or other ways he would do it, listen and nod your head. You can always say “I didn’t think about that, let me give it some thought”.
      At the same time, your rehearsed pitch still has to be presented in a casual, spontaneous conversational manner. He knows you’re pitching, but how you pitch will indicate your ease with it.
      The second hardest thing for people to come up with is the opening sentence. Come up with a killer way to open the pitch. Rehearse it.
      The hardest thing to come up with? The way to end it. Too many people get to the end and don’t feel they’ve said enough to sell their idea (HINT: you never will, no one ever feels that way). The result is that, unless stopped, they will keep rambling, hoping for that “ah HAH” spark from their listener. Don’t count on it. Rehearse your pitch end, hit it, and STOP.
      When you do finish, there are going to be a lot of questions…. or not. Either way, you need to answer in a positive proactive manner. Even if you don’t know the answer, embrace it as something you are eager to explore.
      Make sure you know what your audience is hearing in your pitch. What you think you are pitching might not be what’s getting across. I don’t know if you have time, but here’s a good practice for you:
      Take a friend to lunch. Someone who doesn’t know your pitch. When the waiter takes your drink order and heads off, launch into your pitch. When the waiter comes back with the drinks, STOP. No matter where you are, wrap it up and finish. Then ask your friend to tell you what your series/story is about. Listen carefully, because that’s what you got across under pressure. Do this often enough and I can guarantee you, pitching to execs will be a relief.
      And, of course, HAVE FUN. The world does not rest on this pitch. Someone wants to hear you tell stories: how cool is that? Enjoy it.
      No, seriously… enjoy it.

    • That’s great. I wish you the best of luck. Try to stay calm, be friendly and talk to him about your project. The more questions he asks, the better. Keep him talking as long as you can. Please let us know how it goes, this is very exciting!!

    • And take the water. Always take the water.

    • Over lunch – just talk about your stuff, casual. Like you are telling your friend what your new script is about. Don’t spit food on them. Don’t expect to actually eat anything.

    • Congrats! I’d say try to give him/her just a taste of the scripts. Make them want to read the whole thing.

So tell me what you think.

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