The other night I had brunch with a friend and we got to talking about projects that we were working on. I told her I had a few things that I was developing and she asked me to pitch them all to her so she could see which ones she liked more than others. And I suddenly found myself struck with a harsh realization. I have no idea how to pitch. I mean, I do, I’m just terrible at it. I stumble, say “uh” a lot, and end up digressing on any number of subjects. So this week I figured I would share some helpful articles and videos on pitching. I figured I should start working on my pitching ability so I’ve also started to record myself pitching various projects. I’m not going to share those videos now but I may in the future. For now, please enjoy some advice on pitching that seemed to help me a little. There are five pillars that I believe make a solid pitch.
The logline is arguably the most important aspect of initially developing a story. It encapsulates the central conflict of the story and essentially in one line explains what the story is about. Creating a good logline is essential for any writer and for any filmmaker looking to pitch their story to someone or group of someones. Below is a video that was helpful for me in creating a strong logline. Try to ignore their incorporating Harvey Weinstein into the video. That obviously didn’t age well.
If you’ve already written your logline, then you probably already know who your hero is. The hero is the protagonist, the main character in the story, the one that changes the most and is who the main conflict is reflecting off of. But is that always true? Sometimes the hero, main character, and protagonist can be different people. This requires some digging and backstory and figuring where your characters were and what they were doing before the movie even starts. Below is a blog post by John August where he explains the difference between the hero, main character, and protagonist. Distinguishing them apart is crucial when crafting your pitch. Know who your hero is. And who they really are, where they come from, and the conflict they are faced with. Below the blog post link is a video about what makes a compelling movie hero or protagonist.
This one should be pretty obvious and self explanatory. Is your movie a thriller? Comedy? Musical? Romance? Horror? Documentary? The list goes on and on. And now, there are many stories that are mixtures of two different genres. Comedy horror for example. If you have your story out, then chances are you know what your genre is already. So commit to it and really have an understanding of that genre as well as the style and tone that it conveys.
Theme is where I probably get stuck the most. For me, I feel like I’m always working on theme and trying to perfect it in my writing process. It’s annoying because it’s so important. For your pitch, theme tells your listener what you’re really trying to say with your story. What the moral of the story is. What the underlying message is that you are trying to convey with this character’s journey. Below are a couple of articles about different themes in film and a great video about what theme actually is. The video was probably more helpful for me than anything else regarding theme. It just really puts it all in a nutshell. And he’s funny as hell.
What movie or movies is your story most similar to? Some filmmakers don’t like providing comparisons of other films to theirs, which is understandable. For me, I feel like it helps in the pitch give a more visual depiction of what your movie is going to be like, and even the style that you are going after. It’s also fun trying to find other movies that you may have unconsciously been inspired by. So what movies is yours most like? Is it Terminator meets LaLa Land? (That sounds like it could be a robot musical). Is it Fatal Attraction meets Mrs. Doubtfire? You get the idea. Have fun with it. Exploring films that are similar to yours also gives you a sense of how it might be responded to and how to market the movie.
Pitching can be an overwhelming and daunting undertaking. But for any filmmaker it’s crucial in mastering if you want people to get interested and engaged in your stories. Sometimes it’s the pitch that determines whether someone gets involved in the project (or in some cases finances it). For me, I’ll be spending much more time working on this and developing my pitching skills. I’ll check in again down the road and let you know how much my pitching style has changed and hopefully improved. In the meantime, go pitch your stories! Everyone loves hearing stories. Get yours out there!