The Pitch The pitch is valued by movie moguls and writers. Movie scripts are long documents. Executives are busy people. Writers are commonplace. The pitch is one of the many steps in sorting the impressive from the ordinary. A tentative pitch will be hit callously out of the ballpark. A too fancy curve ball will be punished with the cry of ‘foul !’
A successful pitch encapsulates all that is worthy in the script. The ’stand-out’ selling points of the script provide excellent guidelines for development of the pitch. A pitch is the condensed synopsis of the script. Milk boiled for many hours with the addition of sugar, becomes tasty fudge. Scented oil with impurities removed becomes concentrated essence. The pitch should capture the essence of the story.
There are countless books on how to win friends and influence people. Sales techniques and body language enforce authority and imbue confidence. There are no hard and fast rules, but rapport with film executives must be quickly achieved or the opportunity will be lost.
Working in sales for many years, I constantly refined methods for best results. I had a style of approach and delivery allowing deflection or defeat of any rebuttal to my advances. A friend of mine had his own unique style. He would enter any premises in a gait of authority, and swelling with pride, would loudly announce, “I’m a salesman!” All within earshot were silenced by this unusual man, and eager to hear what he would say next.
A pitch that begs questions is a method often favored. It can be useful if the information is just a little unclear, because you are more likely to be stopped with a clarifying question. In this way the pitch audience is engaged and participating. This clarifying question is a set up, and instills a curiosity about the next thing you are going to say.
Movie executives are on the lookout for something new and improved. A philatelist will not have an album full of the same stamp. Music afficionados listen to more than one CD. Execs ears will prick up when confronted by the unexpected presented in concise and enticing manner. It is important to remember you are not just telling a story, you are ’selling a story.’
The tone of a pitch can also vary. Even a flippant and derisive approach can provide import without resorting to overly precious sacrosanct reverence toward the material.
The germination of a story is usually a novel concept or scenario. This idea becomes the backbone of an outline that should function as a roadmap through the maze of the story. It is important that our story is worthy and our defense of the story is bullet-proof. A great pitch may pique interest but will not ultimately ’sell’ an inferior product.
A great idea pitched successfully provides opportunity for the nuances and subtleties that show your finest writing abilities. Many scripts are sold on a novel concept, but often without legs to flesh out the duration of a feature film. A really good idea will also provide room for expansion, detour, sub-plot, and an arc of immersion for the viewer and those involved in the creative process.