How to pitch a script

How To Pitch A Script

Reading Time: 4 minutes

So, you’ve learned how to write a script. However, probably the most underrated skill set of any filmmaker is the ability to pitch a script.

A good pitch allows people to envision your script within their imaginations. Therefore, it’s essential that writers, producers, and directors know how to pitch a script.

What Is A Pitch?

short film pitch

Firstly, a pitch is an oral presentation in which you sell your movie’s concept to anyone you want involved with your project. At the highest professional setting, this would be to studios and production companies.

However, you need to know how to pitch a script at any stage of your career, whether it’s to students, investors, or potential crew.

Remember the phrase “No man is an island?” Well, neither are movies.

LOTS of people will need to talk about your idea to get it made, from investors to every artistic department in production – not to mention advertising!

Therefore, your story must be able to be shared in a way that ANYONE can understand.

How To Write A Script Pitch

Probably the easiest way to pitch a script is to talk about your idea like a great movie you just watched. When we talk to friends about movies we like, how does that usually sound? For example:

YOU

I watched a great movie last night.

FRIEND

 Cool! What was it about?

YOU

It was about this kooky group of scientists that go into business as professional ghost hunters. It was hilarious!

FRIEND

Sounds like I have to check it out!

Notice how you boiled down the movie into simple, relatable terms.

Ghost Busters film script
Ghost Busters (1984)

Above all, you need to emphasize concept, characters, and story in a clear and efficient delivery.

So, when you pitch a script, allow the audience’s imagination to connect the dots. Your job is to provide the movie’s road map.

Your concept is the destination – it’s where your characters are headed. The story is the route they take to get there. Try to create some structure to your presentation.

The type of pitch I just shared is commonly referred to as an elevator pitch. Another way to think about it is a quick 30-second pitch (just enough time to share an idea in an elevator ride).

Elevator Pitch

pitch a movie

While most pitches are greater in length, the elevator pitch is the heart and soul of how to pitch a script. Longer pitch meetings simply expand from its premise:

  • Firstly, unveil your concept. Maybe talk about where the idea came from or why you connect to it personally.
  • Secondly, introduce us to your characters. Why are they fascinating? What is it that they are going to learn and why? How does that relate to us all in this mystery we call life on earth?
  • Thirdly, what’s the dramatic irony of the story they are about to go through in relation to who they are? What are a few examples of fun and exciting things we’re going to see happen on their journey? What’s the end? How are we going to feel when the credits roll?

Quick Tips

There are lots of little tricks you can employ to be “good in a room.” Here are some pro tips to keep in mind when you pitch a script:

Keep It Simple

Rather than relay every single plot point of your script, catch our attention with the film’s concept. Because film is collaborative (especially in the script phase) your plot points are malleable. Consequently, your first task is to make your audience connect with the core idea of your story.

Keep It Casual

Probably one of the most important things to remember when you pitch a script is to maintain a conversational tone. Performative pitches create a barrier between you and your potential partners. You don’t want to be a carnival barker. Rather, you want to show you have a solid grasp of your story and passion for your idea.

Glengarry Glen Ross
Not so casual. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Questions Are Good

If you get asked questions when you pitch a script – don’t panic! It means your audience is interested in what you have to say. They’re not trying to torpedo your idea. They’re engaged!

Whatever you do, DON’T EVADE QUESTIONS. Here are some sure fire ways you can kill your pitch:

  • You just have to read it.” This meeting isn’t about reading anything. It’s about forming a business relationship. Also, there are 10,000,000 other scripts out there with writers that aren’t going to be so coy.
  • “I don’t wan’t to share too much.” They want to know exactly what they’re dealing with before they work with you. Don’t shut them out.
  • “I need to protect my idea.” It takes forever to develop and write ideas. Trust me, they have plenty of other ideas they’re working with. They’re not going to steal yours.

“What Else Have You Got?”

Above all, don’t take this question personally. There are several reasons why this comes up when you pitch a script:

  • Firstly, the idea might not be for them. That’s okay!
  • Secondly, they might be dealing with a similar idea or your idea might simply not be right for the current market. Again, totally fine!
  • Thirdly, they might really like your ideas.
  • Finally, remember content is king. If producers and execs are considering working with you, they want to make sure you can come up with ideas. If not for rewrites on the idea you pitched, then maybe for other ideas they’re developing.

You should always have several ideas ready to go for pitch meetings. I can’t tell you how many times the last-grasp idea is the one people end up wanting.

Wrapping Up – How To Pitch a Script

In conclusion, remember when pitch a script, you’re actually selling yourself as a professional storyteller.

There are piles of scripts out there, but pitching allows people to associate you with the words on the page. You have to show your ideas simply can’t be ignored!

Pre-Production, Scriptwriting

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