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    How to Pitch Your Movie Successfully

    If you fear pitching your stories to agents and producers, you're not alone. Many writers find pitching difficult. If they wanted to perform for an audience, they would not have chosen a solitary profession like writing.

    Script writing may be a solitary pursuit when you face the blank page; but once you put something magical on that blank page, everybody wants to get into the act.

    Working writers often pitch their stories while they're in the midst of writing their screenplays. Even after they sell the script, they have to pitch it to the director and the actors. All successful screenwriters learn how to pitch effectively, it's part of the job description.


    Tips for Dynamic Pitching

    • Practice Your Pitch

      This seems rudimentary, but some writers get caught up in the omnipotent throes of the creative process and believe they can wing it. Spare yourself and your audience some agony -- DON'T wing it.

      Insider tip: Practice pitching to a pal or writing partner. Pitch a screenplay you've already written or a movie you've seen before you practice pitching your new story. Leave the audience with the impression that they've seen your movie or at least a tantalizing trailer of your movie.


    • What to Include in Your Pitch

      The pitch should be about 10 minutes max. This leaves time for feedback. The initial pitch must answer these questions:

      1. Who is the movie about?

        Give the impression the movie centers on ONE character, the most interesting character -- the STAR. Movies are star-driven. Even low-budget independent producers hope the unknown actor they cast in the lead will become a star or at least look like a star in this movie.

      2. What happens to the star?

        • Include the arena of the story and the basic situation of the star.
        • Tell where the star is (emotionally, physically, mentally) at the beginning.
        • Tell where he/she goes (emotionally, physically, mentally) during the movie.
        • Explain where the star ends up (emotionally, physically, mentally) by the climax of the movie.
        • Emphasize the conflicts (internal and external) the star faces.
        • Describe how the star's crisis changes him or her in some fundamental way.

      3. What gets in the way?

        • Highlight major OBSTACLES (inanimate or physical situations).
        • Describe important ADVERSARIES (characters) that try to prevent the star getting what they want. These blockers should be worthy opponents, otherwise overcoming them won't be satisfying.

      4. What's at stake?

        Describe a few dramatic moments in detail. Choose moments involving the star where the conflicts escalate or the crisis becomes more complicated. Make it clear the star resolves the climactic crisis or is actively involved in resolving it.


    • Use Your Genre to Sell Your Pitch

      Know the genre of your movie -- movies are sold to audiences by genre. Your pitch audience is interested in how they will market the movie as well as how they will make it. Don't tell them how to market it, just make it clear that it is MARKETABLE.


    • Emphasize Star Qualities

      Present your story to emphasize the qualities that will attract the star. Here are some general guidelines:

      1. Stars usually respond to an interesting, well-developed character caught up in a compelling situation with potential for exciting conflict.

      2. Stars instinctively want to play a character who takes action within the story that leads to the resolution of the climactic conflict. Duh.


    • Emphasize Qualities that Might Attract a Successful Director

      To attract a director you must lay out a compelling story that can be told visually. By this I don't mean special effects and stunning scenery. The story must unfold visually; the emotion conveyed visually, the danger represented visually and so on. Your pitch demonstrates this by the action you choose to describe and the way you've dramatized and resolved the conflicts.


    • Details, Details, Details

      How detailed should you be? Don't become mired in miniscule movements of plot. Give them a movie trailer not a summary of the movie.


    • Some helpful tutorials

      • A Screenplay Checklist

        This article outlines the who-what-when-where-how-why of a screenplay story -- the vital elements of your verbal pitch.


      • Castability Considerations

        This helpful column focuses on story elements that will appeal to stars. Savvy producers or agents instinctively respond to stories they believe will attract star talent.


      • Book: THE PREFECT PITCH by Ken Rotcop

        Pitching is a huge, amorphous topic -- that's why there aren't many books written about it. I recommend this one: THE PERFECT PITCH: How to Sell Yourself and Your Movie Idea by Ken Rotcop.


    All successful writers somehow learned how to pitch their stories effectively. So can you. Do the preparation. This is not make-work, in fact some writers admit that pitching their stories improves their writing.

    If you do the preliminary work, when you arrive at your pitch meeting, you can take a deep breath and let 'er rip.

    Copyright © 2002 Lenore Wright

    Lenore Wright has 15 years experience writing and selling screenplays in Los Angeles and New York. For a tutorial on how to write a bomb-proof logline for your script, go to http://breakingin.net/logline.htm. For more free marketing tips and tools SUBSCRIBE to Script Market News. Send a blank email to breakintoscreenwriting-subscribe@topica.com.

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