Hints for Pitching
I am still getting emails from writers who attended my PitchFest speech. Apparently they liked what they heard. I am grateful for all the wonderful response.
I also have heard from a number of writers I met with prior to their sessions with executives and producers at PitchFest. And across the board I have received thanks for my coaching.
The pitch is not the most important thing a writer will do, writing is, but we are all called upon to describe our movie — and to do so in the pithiest way we can.
I lay out four things I think every good logline should have in my book. I also talk about the importance of including adjectives to describe the players of your movie. I need to see a “type” of protaganist and a “type” of antagonist, in addition to the conflict between them. Saying your hero is a “wannabe” actor or a “disgraced” cop or a “childless” couple — and doing the same for your antagonist — is key.
It gives the listener a handle on who they should root for, a mind picture of the situation you are describing.
But here is the best tip for pitching, and one that ties directly into story:
In “beating out” any story, I suggest using the 15 Beats of the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It is the foundation upon which all good stories can be built. One of those 15 beats I call the “Fun and Games.” It’s the section just after the Break into Act Two, when the hero first lands in the “upside-down version of the world” that will be the setting for the bulk of the story.
The “Fun and Games” section is where we see “the promise of the premise” — and the “poster.” When tomboy FBI agent Sandra Bullock first goes undercover at a beauty contestant in Miss Congeniality, the “Fun and Games” section is when she gets her makeover, and awkwardly teeters on her high heels. This is when Sandra first lands in “Girl World” and is overwhelmed by having to wear that sash, and wave politely, and learn to do her musical water glass talent.
Well, guess what? Look at the “one-sheet” of Miss Congeniality. There’s Sandra with her ball gown, and her sash, and strapped to her thigh — her gun. It’s the poster of the movie.
It’s also the pitch.
Fun and Games is the pitch of every movie. It’s the shank of your movie idea, the place in the script where I can best see “What is it?” So if you are trying to get a handle on what your movie idea is in order to pitch it, look to the Fun and Games section on your beat sheet. The Fun and Games is not only where we find the most “trailer moments,” it is the essence of what your movie is about.
The writers I sent off to pitch all had success thinking of their movie in this way. It helped them figure out exactly what their story was!
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