How To's | Screenplay Doctor | Screenwriting

To Pitch or Not to Pitch? Top 10 Pitching Tips from the Screenplay Doctor

3 Jun , 2014  

Written by Susan Kouguell | Posted by:

Should you pitch your script before it's written? Screenplay Doctor Susan Kouguell finds an answer to this question of the month and provide a list of ten pitching tips. To have your question answered, e-mail screenwriter@newenglandfilm.com.

A pitch is exactly what the word implies — it’s a sales pitch. And since this is the movie business, otherwise referred to as the film industry, it’s all about selling your idea. The pitch should summarize your script, engage your listeners, emotionally move them — to laugh, to cry — (for all the right reasons), and convince them to spend zillions of dollars to produce your project.

Knowing when and how to pitch can make or break your chances of having your project considered by film industry folks.

Question: Is it wise to pitch treatments without having the full script written?

Answer: Generally, the answer is no. When you have the opportunity to pitch your project to industry folks and they are intrigued by your idea, they’re not going to want to hear, “Well, glad you liked the pitch. I’ll send you the script when I’m finished.” It’s going to be hard to capture their attention again. It’s challenging enough to get attention from executives at a pitch festival or pitch meeting so I would advise on having the screenplay written. Before you pitch your project, make sure that you copyright it and register it with the Writers Guild of America www.wga.org.

Top Ten Pitching Tips

  1. Depending on what has been requested, a pitch can be as short as a single sentence or as long as a few paragraphs or more.
  2. Your pitch should follow your main character’s journey and major plot points. Highlight your protagonist’s goal and the major obstacles in his or her path, including the antagonist.
  3. The genre must be clear and consistent.
  4. The pitch should be an accurate reflection of your screenplay, including the style, tone, and plot.
  5. A pitch meeting is like an audition. You’re selling yourself in terms of professionalism, not only your story.
  6. Film industry folks know their craft and they know what they are looking for. Your project must be a fit for their company.
  7. Practice your pitch with others, and practice some more.
  8. Remember that while many film executives can appear intimidating and tough, they are looking for a project to produce, and hopefully that script is yours.
  9. A screenplay can take an hour or more to read, but with a pitch, you only have a few minutes to make a lasting impression.
  10. The three P mantra: Be prepared. (Know your pitch inside and out, and anticipate any questions.) Be poised. (Confidence is a plus, overconfidence is not.) Be polite. (A handshake and a “thank you” even if executives are not interested in your project, are important. Keep in mind, they might not be interested in this project, but you are establishing a relationship for the future.)

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Susan Kouguell is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and industry executives worldwide. (www.su-city-pictures.com). Susan wrote THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! (St. Martin’s Griffin) and SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises, available at $1.00 off by clicking on www.createspace.com/3558862, and using DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD. On Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009SB8Z7M (discount code does not apply).

Follow Susan at Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell on Twitter, and read more articles on her blog: http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog/.

Photo from Mouth 15 https://www.flickr.com/photos/twcollins/1344148021


Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Susan Kouguell is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and industry executives worldwide. (www.su-city-pictures.com). Susan wrote THE SAVVY SCREENWRITER: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! (St. Martin’s Griffin) and SAVVY CHARACTERS SELL SCREENPLAYS! A comprehensive guide to crafting winning characters with film analyses and screenwriting exercises, available at $1.00 off by clicking on www.createspace.com/3558862, and using DISCOUNT CODE: G22GAZPD. On Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009SB8Z7M (discount code does not apply). Follow Susan at Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell on Twitter, and read more articles on her blog: http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog/. Photo from Mouth 15 https://www.flickr.com/photos/twcollins/1344148021