Movies Magazine

Overcoming Screenwriter's Pitch Fright

Posted on the 10 November 2012 by Nandu1985

Pitching a script terrifies most writers. After all, we're really only comfortable in our own worlds, developing stories and creating characters. Taking a much-loved idea and pitching it to a group of suited movie execs takes guts, especially when you know they have no investment in your creation and no reason (unless you give them one) to accept your idea.
You need to present your idea with contagious enthusiasm, while giving your audience an accurate impression of your vision. And you have to do so, usually, in less than ten minutes. Some writers can do this with poise and confidence. I both salute and hate them. For the rest of us, preparation is key.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Don’t go into a pitch cold. Actors don’t hit the stage without rehearsals and neither should you. Practice your pitch in front of a mirror. Videotape yourself. Look for weaknesses in your presentation. 
Once you’re confident in your pitch, have some honest friends come over and pitch the idea to them. The key word here is honest; you want helpful feedback to help you identifythe pitch's strengths and weaknesses. You don’t want praise simply to boost your ego, nor do you want cutting criticism intended to drag you down. 

Prepare, but Don’t Memorize

While preparation is vital, don't make the mistake of memorizing your pitch. You want to give your pitch a sense of spontaneity, not the impression that you're reciting from rote. Besides, execs may break in with questions during the pitch, which can throw you off a memorized script.

Props and Visual Aids

Some execs respond well to props and visual aids during a pitch. Others just want the straight goods with no distractions. Make some discreet inquiries to see if you can’t unearth their preferences. Other screenwriters can be a great source of information.

Comparison Pitches

Comparing your pitch to other movies should be handled carefully. The old standard was to present the story as a combination of two identifiable films. A pitch about magical 1991 Mustang Parts, for example, might be pitched as "It's Herbie meets Harry Potter!"
Combination pitches, however, aren’t as well received as they used to be. Execs want to hear what makes your script unique, and are less interested in comparisons. Reference other movies sparingly when you feel it's necessary for your audience's understanding. Whatever you do, never compare your script to a box-office disaster. "It's like Waterworld, only appealing" may be the worst pitch ever made. 

Acting Lessons

You need to present yourself as confident, enthusiastic and coherent during a pitch. That's a difficult task when you're so nervous you think you might throw up (Protip: never barf on a studio exec's shoes).
Acting lessons help you hide your anxiety during a pitch. You'll learn how to present yourself confidently, and how to hide the butterflies in your stomach. As an added bonus, you get a sense of how actors and directors think, which can only improve your scriptwriting. 
Overcoming Screenwriter's Pitch Fright Michael DeavenAbout the Guest Author:
Michael is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond.

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