For storytellers, crafting creative story ideas in their heads is a relentless endeavor. But having brilliant ideas will not get you anywhere unless you know how to effectively influence others to invest in them and help bring them to life. Pitching is actually something we unconsciously do on a daily basis. It could be as simple as convincing your family to eat at your favorite restaurant, persuading your friend to buy the latest laptop, or swaying your partner to invest in a new house. While it may seem like a simple undertaking, not everyone possesses the necessary skills to succeed in it. However, it is something that can be learned by constant practice and application. Let’s take a look at some of the effective ways to pitch your story ideas to investors, buyers, or producers in Hollywood.
What’s in a Pitch?
A pitch is a process of presenting your story idea to key people in the entertainment industry who could help finance and produce it. Mastering the art of the pitch is essential if you want to turn your ideas into reality as well as make a name for yourself in this competitive industry.
“A movie pitch can be a verbal or a visual presentation of a writer’s big idea, usually preceding the writing of a draft of the film. Film pitches are useful tools that briefly convey the important elements of a film project, like the premise, characters, plot, and budget,” via Materclass.
A pitch is a process of presenting your story idea to key people in the entertainment industry
In Hollywood, pitches can be as quick as less than a minute or up to a half hour. The most common of all is called an elevator pitch, which is usually a brief 30-second explanation of your idea that is meant to intrigue the listener and allow them to quickly understand and evaluate whether the idea is worth producing. On the other hand, traditional 20 to 30-minute pitches are still prevalent in the industry. These pitches are prepared and accompanied by visual presentations or pitch decks to help investors and studio executives get a vivid and detailed understanding of the filmmaker’s vision.
So, how do you make an effective pitch?
The first course of action is nailing your introduction. First impression matters and your introduction should instantly capture the people you are pitching to and give them an immediate understanding of your story. Therefore, it must include basic elements such as the title, logline, genre, hook, theme, location, and most especially why this story is important and worth telling.
Afterward, present a summary of the plot or the important beats that propel the story forward as well as a breakdown of the main and supporting characters. A character breakdown includes a rich description of their personality, arc, motives, physicality, and qualities that make them compelling and essential to the story.
Once the essence of the story and its characters have been fleshed out, presenting the look or visual aspects of the film such as the color palette, cinematography, lighting, and music as well as providing examples of film references could enhance your vision and greatly help your audience get a vivid picture of the film. If applicable, mention if the project has already received funding from other investors and most importantly if there are prominent directors, writers, or actors that are already attached to the project. By doing so, you are showing that you are a credible filmmaker and that your idea has already gotten the interest of trustworthy people or investors.
Close the Deal
The last step is wrapping it up with a bang, which means leaving a memorable and captivating finale to the audience you’re pitching to. This could either be done by revealing the cathartic ending of your story or ending it on a cliffhanger to keep them on their toes and get them more intrigued by how the story unfolds. Keep in mind that the way you present yourself is as important, if not more, than your story idea. Be attentive and get a feel of the room as well as how your audience is responding to the things you say. You need to be able to sell the whole package, meaning your talent, voice, humor, personality, and vision as a storyteller to engage and establish a connection with your audience.
To take it up a notch, some filmmakers accompany their pitch by showing a proof of concept. It is synonymous with a short film, which shows a glimpse of the look and feels or simply how your idea on page translates on the screen. The most successful proof of concept that was turned into a feature film is none other than the award-winning film, Whiplash (2014).
If you want to make it big in the industry, a huge part of the job is learning how to pitch and sell your ideas
Pitching is a vital part of the entertainment industry that amateur and veteran filmmakers cannot escape from. If you want to make it big in the industry, a huge part of the job is learning how to pitch and sell your ideas to people. While it may seem challenging and daunting, constant practice and preparation are key to a successful pitch. You must know every aspect and minuscule detail of your story and anticipate the possible questions that might come out of it. Start by presenting in front of your family and friends then ask for feedback on which areas are strong and also which ones you need to improve on.
While most story ideas have been pitched and produced in countless ways, a surefire way to get noticed is by incorporating your own voice as a storyteller. Your voice is what will make you unique and different from anyone because of your rich experiences and personal view of the world. Suppose you do not have connections in the industry, there are numerous pitch festivals such as the prominent Hollywood Pitch Festival that offer priceless opportunities to connect filmmakers with Hollywood producers and executives. Whether you’re able to sell your project or not, pitch festivals will help you build your professional network and open doors that you wouldn’t usually have had access to. So, get your creative juices flowing and show them who’s going to be the next big hit in town.