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  • The Ultimate Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching at Pitchfests!

    June 1st, 2011

    By Danny Manus


    1. Have a FINISHED script in proper format.
    2. Know your target. Do your Research.
    3. Embrace the “Alternate” and use it to your advantage.
    4. Try to get a pitch session before lunch, but not the first session of the day.
    5. Know your story!! Backwards and forwards. Characters, arcs, plot, story, ending, act breaks, etc. No using Cue Cards!
    6. Be open to constructive criticism on your story, characters, pitch, and even your personality.
    7. Have an excellent and visual one sheet with your contact info, email, title, genre, 1-2 paragraph synopsis, additional project loglines, any relevant background info, etc.
    8. Ask us if we want to take your one sheet if we haven’t asked for it already. Or at least leave a business card with contact info and your project’s title.
    9. Dress appropriately. No costumes. No flop sweat. No spittle. Bring some hand sanitizer too!
    10. Make us think you’re from LA, or at least would move there.
    11. Make sure you can pitch in English. At least coherent enough to understand.
    12. BE NORMAL!!!
    13. Know what the hook to your story is, what the original twist to your story is, and highlight that.
    14. Make sure your first minute contains: your name, your project’s title, any pertinent background info, whatever sets you apart, your project’s genre, the logline and hook, one or two comparison films, etc.
    15. Make sure the rest of the pitch contains: your main story line, descriptions and arcs of your main character(s), some of your big set pieces, funniest/scariest moments of your script, etc. The most commercial and original parts of your script. The trailer moments!
    16. Prepare to answer questions about you, your story and your writing process.
    17. Make sure your TV show idea can last 4 seasons before pitching your premise.
    18. Gear your pitches to agents/managers so that it’s more about YOU and your vision for your career than a specific project.
    19. If we ask for it, send us your script within 2 weeks.
    20. Respect the pass if you get one at the table.
    21. Say hello if passing us in the halls after your pitch. Act normal and smile.
    22. HAVE FUN! RELAX!

    DO NOT:

    1. Set yourself up for failure.
    2. Cry while pitching.
    3. Use Cue Cards. You should know your own story better than that.
    4. Act your pitch. Just tell a story and have a conversation. Also, no singing, dancing, or funny voices necessary.
    5. Tell us that this is the first time you have ever pitched this to anyone. We shouldn’t be your first pitch.
    6. Use a gimmick. No posters, toys, props, etc. Trailers are okay and drawings are okay if you are a professional FX Artist.
    7. Fight with fellow attendees, even if they are taking up your time.
    8. Fight with execs and argue about their take on your story or pitch. Don’t tell them that you don’t think they’re right. Keep it all inside and just smile and nod.
    9. Start your pitch with something incredibly personal or embarrassing.
    10. Start your pitch with a rhetorical question!
    11. Ask execs to take your script at the table. And don’t beg.
    12. Ask execs for their card more than once.  
    13. Pitch projects that are not appropriate for pitchfests (period epics, sci-fi trilogies, Hollywood insider movies, Oscar-type Prestige Dramas, Autobiographies that haven’t been published/covered somewhere – a book, article, short film, doc, etc)
    14. Deny execs your big twist ending.
    15. Have typos or grammatical errors on your one sheet!!
    16. Insist on directing or acting in your script.
    17. Make execs regret saying yes. Don’t be annoying or email/call incessantly.
    18. Under any circumstances, pitch execs in the bathroom or on a cigarette break.
    19. Become a horror story.

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