Pitching a screenplay takes major cojones.
It requires public speaking.
Fear of public speaking is #1 on the global top ten list of fears. It’s called Glossophobia from glÅssa = tongue and phobia = fear or dread (Greek). Is this a fear of yours? It’s mine – right up there with crocodiles and sharks.
What’s the big deal?
You know in your heart that you have a killer screenplay. One that people will line up around the block in sub-zero weather just to get a chance to see.
To get your masterpiece seen you will need:
A pitch is an animated summation of a script with emphasis on the main characters, the conflict and the genre. When pitching a script, you use this summation to persuade industry professionals to option the work (purchase it for consideration). More Greek?
To know who to Pitch.
Studio executives, producers, directors and even complete strangers.
When you see a friendly face at the store, bank, etc., you might approach them and give them your spiel. Then ask them what they think of your idea.
They will give you an unbiased opinion unlike your friends and/or family who will tell you not to forget them in your acceptance speech when you win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
To find your field of dreams.
Attending Screenwriter’s Expos is another vehicle for pitching your work.
Laurie and I attended the 2005 Creative Screenwriter’s Expo in LaLa Land. (LA) We were green, novices at best, who naively believed we had a real winner in hand.
This was our field of dreams.
It’s time to pitch, bitch!
When you register for an Expo, there will be a section in the catalog on pitching. It will list the studios and industry professionals and what genres they make and are interested in.
To know the muy importante.
You do know what genre (a particular category of style, form or content) your screenplay falls in, right? Now that you’ve selected the people you want to pitch to, go ahead and buy the pitch tickets. That’s the easy part because now you will need to consummate the act.
As you sign-in for the pitching sessions, you are given a number signifying what order you will be pitching. Everyone lines up like cattle being marched to the slaughterhouse. There is a nervous vibe in the air.
People are pacing, some are practicing their pitches aloud while a few are calling on their respective Gods for a little divine intervention.
When I pitched Divine Intervention, it was a no-brainer because Laurie would be doing the pitching for us. She is a warrior and has a knack for connecting with people. I, on the other hand, stumble over my words, go off on tangents and generally suck at public speaking.
When our number is called, Laurie is rushed into a room – a maze of tables with numbers and potential gatekeepers awaiting her.Â She quickly finds the right table and stands behind a fellow pitch participant (the scene on “Seinfeld” when customers nervously stand in formation and follow protocol in order to procure a bowl of soup from the Soup Nazi easily comes to mind).
I am pacing around the lobby like one of those expectant fathers in the 50’s who had to burn a hole in the rug in the waiting room instead of being allowed in the delivery room and getting in on the experience of seeing his child born.
Why aren’t I in the room convincing someone to make our movie? What am I really afraid of? Oh yeah, I’m a card-carrying member of the Glossophobia team.
Wasn’t I willing to do whatever it takes to get our dream realized?
Laurie bursts out of the room with a look of relief washing over her face.
She’s done everything right because
- She introduced herself
- She announced the title of our screenplay, “Divine Intervention”
- She gave a clear concise logline
- She named the genre
- She dropped the hook – any brief statement or premise that hooks someone into the story
- She stopped talking (professionals love brevity)
- She left them wanting more
“I guess it went OK, they asked for a treatment.” And then she ran off to get in another line of harried, neurotic writers waiting for their shot of fame.
- If they ask you for a treatment, you’d better bloody follow through – I naively expected we would get a deal, wait, what they want a treatment?
- Your logline should be crystal clear to whomever you pitch it to and that means to you too.
- You’re a person and you’re pitching to another person – have fun with it!
- I don’t need major cojones to pitch a screenplay. (It’s a process – I’m working on it).
I’d like to pass on a few more screenplay pitching stories next week. I will leave you with this video that I’ve watched over and over to get my pitching groove on.
Go confidently in the direction of your dream. Live the life you imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau
Now where are you going to pitch your dream this week?
Toni left 8 Women Dream in November of 2010 to focus on Club B and its screenplay.