How To Pitch Like A Pro with Stage 32

Thursday 30 November 2017

I  had the opportunity to find out exactly what producers and executives are looking for during a Pitch.
Erik over at Stage 32 was kind enough to shed light on the do’s and don’ts and what you can do to better your chances of getting a yes over a no.

If you haven’t heard of Stage 32 (click here) then be sure to check out their amazing pitching opportunities they offer writers all over the world. Stage 32 are an incredibly helpful and supportive community!

1) What can I expect during a pitch?

A pitch is really an opportunity to have a conversation about your idea. Don’t get thrown off if the executive wants to interject, roll with it and tie-in their questions back to your story. Your character arc needs to be the main focus, rather than the story beats. Ideally try and keep your pitch between 4 – 6 minutes, it leaves time for questions from the executives which is very important. You need to be able to sum up the character’s story – what’s the BIG theme? Make it clear what your message is and WHY they have to tell your story.
Erik’s Tip 1“Remember what you’re there to do, to tell a good story. Do not spend your pitch talking about marketing, budget or your target audience, that’s THEIR job not yours.” 

2) I have too many ideas, how do I choose what to pitch?
Go with the project you are most passionate about. Do not start your pitch offering all your current ideas and ask the executive to choose. Do your research about who your pitching too and how you work relates to their specific needs/genre, pick your strongest material and what you feel most confident about.
Erik’s Tip 2: “ The end goal is to make it into the room with these executives, they will be putting their name behind you as they send you to other meetings. This whole business is based on recommendations. You need to be approachable, personable and engaging. You have to be more than just a writer.” 

3) How can I prepare for my pitch?

The best way to be prepared for anything is to practice, practice, practice. You need to KNOW what you’re pitching – WHO the characters are, WHAT the story is, WHERE it takes place. Get used to telling your story through any means possible, for example through a writers’ group or friend.
Erik Tip 3: ‘It’s got to be a conversation. Get used to telling your story and make use of talking it out to whoever will listen. Keep it engaging and make it a conversation.’ 

4) My idea/ script isn’t 100% finished, is it still worth pitching?
As long as the story is complete pitch the 2nd draft, but NEVER pitch the first draft. If you don’t have a full script then don’t risk it, execution is everything. However, if you find yourself at a networking event/film festival, be brave and do an ‘elevator pitch’. Tell them it’s not finished but you do have an outline. Send them the outline or treatment, and work on your full draft for a week as they read the outline.
Erik Tip 4: “You must know the ending to anything you pitch, it needs to be clean and presentable. Look for the best-case scenario, if they love it then a lot of people will be reading your material. Make sure every first impression of your material is a WOW.” 
5) What are the most common mistakes made during a pitch and how can we avoid them?
Executives will have their opinions and notes about your work and that is a GOOD sign. It means they’re engaged, they’re hooked into your project and conversation. Go with it, even if you think it’s an awful idea. If you cut off their suggestions, they won’t want to ask any more questions.
For written pitches and script requests (if you’re one of the lucky ones) don’t miss out on opportunities due to lazy grammar, labelling or spelling. Always read through before pressing send. You only get one chance at a first impression!
Erik Tip 5: “Film is a collaborative process, always be open to opinions. Up until the scene is shot, there will be changes. Be professional and prepared for that.” 

6) My pitch didn’t go as well as I’d hoped and got a pass on my pitch. What do you suggest my next move is?
Look at your feedback, what is the executive trying to tell you? They aren’t necessarily talking about your script, it could be changes you need to make about your pitch. Remember, don’t take one executives opinion as gospel. You need to pitch to a few, and if their feedback shares similar notes then that’s when you need to be making some corrections.
Erik Tip 6: “ Refocus, is the problem the script or the pitch? 9 times out of 10, it’s the pitch.” 

7) I got a script request, but some time has passed and heard nothing. Shall I assume the worst of is there still hope?

Executives have a lot of reading that needs to be done, but be patient. It’s okay to check in, drop an email and offer them a shorter alternative to read, ie. your outline/treatment that will jig their memory.
This is not an excuse to hammer the executive with emails. They want to know you’re somebody they can work with. Show a level of professionalism, it will help you stand out.
Erik Tip 7: By offering a shorter alternative you are keeping your name in their orbit, refreshing their memory. Make it an easy document to read as they will be more likely to read it. Even if it isn’t a full script, it’s still a writing sample. It showcases your talent. Again, read through before pressing send.” 
So, there you have it! All the tips you’d ever need to know to make sure your next pitching experience will be a great one. Now get writing and start practicing!

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