Pitching is just like being the nervous suitor asking for a date. Is she or he going to like you? Do you have an exciting or intriguing personality? Do you have passion? This is where initial appearances do matter. Here are 6 ways to make sure you go home with them at the end of the evening.
1. Google, Facebook and IMDB them. i.e. Do your research. How promiscuous are they? How many projects have they done and what genres do they like? Pitching horror to someone who does comedy is a sure way to go home alone.
2. Don’t be coy. Some people suggest you shouldn’t give away certain parts of your plot when you’re pitching – especially the ending. The idea is this sets up intrigue and will have the pitch-ee dying to read your script to find out what happens. NO. This is very wrong. Remember these people aren’t the viewers at home, or kids picking up a comic. They are busy professionals who don’t really want to read your script all the way through if they don’t have to. They want to know what they are buying. So while small character oriented scenes can be left out or summarized quickly up front to give a sense of persona, you need to hit them with the big moments. Those include the inciting incident, the act 1 break, the midpoint, large set pieces AND THE ENDING.
3. Don’t be too eager. While it’s true that you want to be excited by your project, you don’t want to be too effusive. Saying that your story is the “most unique” or “the best thing you’ve ever heard,” is going to make your date roll their eyes. And please, don’t ramble on – be precise with your story so yours is the one they remember from all their other dates.
4. Eye contact. Nothing turns a date off more than if they can’t look you in the eyes. They’re thinking, “Can this person be trusted? What are they hiding? Are they insecure?” Eye contact says that you’re confident and fully engaged with the person. And that goes a long way in this industry. So try not to look down at your notes too often and if you are pitching to multiple people, make sure to look at all of them at some point in the pitch. If there’s one person who’s really into it, you can linger on them a little longer. It will give you a huge boost of energy; and also get them to fight your corner.
5. Don’t be a robot. We’ve all had that professor or been to that conference where we fall asleep by the monotone speaker. Well, imagine that on a date. Yawn! You are supposed to be selling a story – so get them excited! Speak up. Change your cadence. Stress important words and sequences. If you can seduce them with your presentation, you seduce them into bed.
6. Don’t worry about a bad date. You’ve been trying to get that special someone to go out with you for what seems like forever. They finally say “yes.” And when you go out – fizzle, fizzle, fizzle. It happens. It’s disappointing. But don’t worry about it. The good news about this industry is that there are a lot of people to pitch to and they all need different things. So get back out there. Work your network. And keep pitching!
If you want a good opportunity to go out on some serious “dates” in Los Angeles, let us be your matchmakers with The Hollywood Field Trip. It’s a week of meetings with top producers, agents and managers, all looking for the next creative love of their lives.
Dates in April, June and October, 2014. Two spots left for the April trip and discounts are available. Special discount for this April’s trip with discount code: APRIL2014. Go to the Hollywood Field Trip website for more information.
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When I pitched for the first time, I had absolutely zero experience at it. I was kind of thrown in at the deep end. I remembered the things I needed to talk about so just poured it out from the heart. I gave the title, they liked it, I gave the logline, they loved it. I then spoke about the general plot but the pitchee couldn’t see the conflict, so I explained a bit more of the plot and he understood and requested the script. To say I winged it would be an understatement but I believe I pulled it off because I knew my story inside out and could express it with passion.
I remember the first time I gave a pitch. I was totally unprepared. Crash and burn.