My Mom, God love her! She is my idol! A stock market genius! The most tasteful, brilliant, and insightful person I’ve ever known, and the one person whose opinion I really trust.

But she can’t pitch a movie to save her coupons.

One of the reasons for this is how she comes at telling a story. Getting to “what’s it about?” is often a long road. And as her patient son, I often must wait for the punchline.

As I now tell audiences all over the world (having gotten permission from my Mom), this is how she would break the news of the Titanic sinking…

“You know the Astors,” she would begin.


“Well, they’re having marital problems, so they go on vacation in France…”


“And they decide to come home, so they book passage on this wonderful ship…”


“And everyone on board is so nice to them, all their friends are there too….”


By the time we get to the part that’s the headline of the story, I am at wit’s end trying to figure out what she’s trying to tell me… and by the time she gets to the part about the ship hitting the iceberg, I’m confused by all the details. Mom falls into a storytelling no-no we all must fight, called “burying the lead.”

Iceberg! Iceberg! Mom I want to say. Get to the part that’s the reason you’re telling this story.

I bring this up because I hear a lot of movie pitches that fall into this category, too. What is it? I want to ask. Tell me the headline! I want to know. So get to the point! Pleeeeeezzzeee. And for friends of mine who’ve heard me tell the story of my Mom and the Titanic, I now say: Iceberg! Iceberg!

It’s a little reminder to get us all to the point.

Are you pitching your movie like my dear, sweet Mom? Are you telling us details up front that aren’t germane to the essence of the story, and avoiding the headline, the grabber that makes us stay interested? If so, before you go into that pitch meeting or agent confab, think of my Mom, and remember:

Iceberg! Iceberg!!

Mom can tell me the story any way she wants to, by the way! So these days when she says “Did you hear about the_____,” I just smile, grab a seat, and listen to every detail. I love you, Mom!!

p.s. I want to thank writer Demetria Dixon for this excellent article about all things Cat!