Pitching is an essential aspect of the movie industry. A script is a tasking document which every writer needs to perfect before approaching executives or agents. A pitch is an animated summary of a movie idea or a script which emphasizes the main characters, the conflict, and the genre. A pitch script is used to persuade industry professionals to option the work (purchase it for consideration).
A pitch script is another very interesting kind of script you should learn how to write. First of all, what does ‘pitch’ mean in filmmaking? A pitch script is a concise verbal (and sometimes visual) presentation of an idea for a film or TV series which a screenwriter or film director makes to a film producer or studio executive with the primary aim of attracting development finance to pay for the writing of the screenplay. So the pitch script is written to present a movie idea to a producer so the producer can then pay for the development of the pitch into a full script, if the pitch idea is interesting. The pitch script helps producers decide on a story direction and a screenwriter. The pitch script may not be a completed script at all. It could be outlines, treatments or synopses. The fact is that the content has to be interesting enough to convince a producer to pay the script writer to develop the pitch script into a complete movie script.
Types of Pitch Scripts
There are two basic types of pitch scripts: the short pitch and the long pitch.
The Short Pitch
Also called the teaser pitch, this is a pitch that takes two minutes or less to present. Basically, you get three sentences to hook listeners into the premise, the genre, and the scope of your film. When crafting this pitch, pay particular attention to what you think they might be listening for. Producers probably want to know the following details: How the film might be cast; How much it will cost to make; How they’ll market it; and What films it resembles. Focus the pitch on these pointers.
If you follow those requests, your first sentence introduces the characters, the next sentence illustrates their conflict, and the final sentence leaves listeners wanting more. The conflict generally suggests the film’s genre, but if not, consider alluding to that in the final sentence as well.
Dummies.come suggests these teaser pitch examples:
- Europe, 1912. Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater enjoy a secret and passionate romance after they meet on a ship chartered toward New York. That ships happens to be the Titanic.
- Jessica Stein has met and refused virtually every man in New York City. Maybe it’s time she looked for a woman. (Kissing Jessica Stein)
- Northern England, 1984. Young Billy Elliot, the son of a poor local miner, decides to start training for a career. In ballet. (Billy Elliot)
You could learn how to write the skeleton of a short pitch from the examples above. You might use them at the onset of a meeting to rope listeners into a more detailed explanation, or perhaps insert more details in between these sentences. In any case, practice your pitch at home with a stopwatch. The short pitch is better done in two minutes or below, if possible. This can be achieved if you maintain the three to five page limitation while writing this kind of script. If executives want to know more, they’ll ask. Be animated, enthusiastic, and concise. Movie trailers are good examples of this kind of pitch; so are the blurbs on the back of video and DVD boxes. Pitch script is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a lot of creativity to summarize a great movie idea in just two minutes.
The Long Pitch
Also called the Story Pitch, the long pitch has more details than the two minute pitch. While writing it you should open with your hook and then the storyline, just as in the two-minute pitch. You can introduce the main characters with a little detail about them before you go into the storyline if you wish. If you are giving a long pitch of one of your own ideas you might want to open with the title and genre too. The long pitch is traditionally 10 to 20 minutes in length, though the shorter the better.
Though this is called the long pitch, you’re still expected to be concise in presenting the ideas. You are not expected to give a scene-by-scene rundown of the story or mention every character in the story. The best thing to do is to focus on the highpoints and most important characters. Filmscriptwriting.com suggests that you provide information on the main characters, their goals, what’s at stake, the emotions, the theme, how the characters grow, any major plot twists and how the story will end. Try to make the pitch as brief as possible because people in the film industry keep long and frantic hours, which naturally affects their attention spans. You can only get a few minutes from them, most often. Utilize it very well.
Four Basic Qualities Producers Are Looking For In a Pitch
The producers you are marketing the pitch script to are actually searching for certain qualities. Filmscriptwriting.com suggests that outside of your ideas the executives are also testing you on your personality and your creativity. Once you get a contract it means you’ll spend many hours of time spent together with them so they want to see certain qualities in you. They are especially looking at four qualities, which Filmscriptwriting.com describes as your SAGE.
You need a thick skin to work in Hollywood, if you can’t take constructive criticism they you won’t be able to make it as a scriptwriter. You have to be able to separate your ego from your work. At the same time though you should stick to your guns on any issues you feel strongly about. It’s a fine balancing act.
The more ambition the better. If the executives see you as someone who wants to write a series of blockbusters then they know you could be worth a lot of money to them if you have the ability.
No-one likes a pessimistic grump. You don’t need to be sugar and spice but treat people with respect and have good manners. Try to be a conversationalist no matter how nervous you might feel, you’ll soon warm into it.
Any good salesperson knows that the most important attribute to have is a passion for the product they are selling. Well, you’re selling your screenplay/ideas so this is no different. A strong sense of self-belief will impress the executives and help make them believe in you.