INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)
For tips on what to pitch, see 6 Elements to Include in Your Pitch, then…
1. Use bullet points for things you absolutely have to include. (No more than a half-dozen.)
2. Rehearse if possible, but don’t try to repeat it word-for-word.
3. Consider starting with an overview of the project: title, genre, general subject area. Then go into details.
4. Don’t try to memorize or recite anything, unless it’s a super key-phrase or two.
5. Never read anything out loud to the buyer.
6. Include at least 2 (two) short, juicy specific bits of material.
7. Personalize the pitch if possible based on what you know about the Pitchee, their company or something you see in their office.
8. Always be prepared to abandon your game plan and improvise.
9. Try to answer any question without getting defensive.
10. If you can’t answer a question say, ‘I’m not sure. What do you think?’
11. If they’re laughing (and it’s comedy), keep going.
12. If they say “I love it”, stop talking.
13. If they ask a few questions that’s good.
14. If they ask too many questions that’s bad.
15. If their foot starts tapping or jiggling that’s bad (unless their foot starts bouncing from sheer excitement – that’s good).
16. If their foot stops tapping that’s usually good, unless it means the meeting is over.
17. If they keep looking at their watch or the clock that’s bad.
18. If they take other calls during the meeting it could be good or bad, depending on what the call is about and how they handle you before, during and after it.
19. If more than one person is pitching (you, your agent, co-writer, producer), assign different roles and topic areas to each person and decide in advance who will go in what order (Introduce, Present, Sell?).
20. End by asking “What’s the next step?”
21. ‘I love it, but I have to run it by my boss’ does not mean ‘yes’, it means ‘maybe’.
22. ‘Let me run it by some other people in the office’ probably means ‘no’.
23. If they say ‘It’s just not for us right now’ or some other polite way of passing on the project, do not try to keep selling the project but you could possibly try pitching a second idea and/or get more information about what they are looking for.
24. Have at least one other project in your back pocket.
25. Do NOT leave any written material behind.
26. Don’t take it personally – and don’t get demoralized if you have a bad pitch and/or don’t sell the project.
27. Don’t close the door on the way out unless they ask you to.
28. If more than three people ‘pass’ on the same pitch, stop pitching and reassess the pitch and/or the project. If you’re really still super-confident that the project will overcome all the stated objections from all those short-sighted fools, and it will really shine if you go ahead and just write it, and you can afford to write it on spec, go ahead and write it anyway. But re-think the project at least one more time before you start drafting.