Thursday, June 01, 2006

It's Breakfast Club meets Psycho

In a written pitch, should I reference other titles to similar-genre films or does that make it look unoriginal?


That’s a very good question. I don’t know where it originated from (but it’d be interesting to find out) but the classic pitch of “It’s … meets … “ has become a source of contentious pitching, some it of playful argument, some with more bug-eyed venom against the form.

It seems that most people like to pour scorn or derision on this particular style of pitch but in truth, it’s such a regular and handy way to describe a project because it serves as a neat reference guide for the person you’re pitching to.

Of course, you don’t want to go down the route of ‘The Player’ and choose oxymoron titles for your pitch (“It’s Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman”) as that won’t make a lot of sense and will see you out the door before your Diet Coke with a hint of lime has had a chance to kiss its ice cubes.

We had a chat about this style of pitching in Cannes (I say 'we', just a bunch of writers having a few beers) and we thought that it was okay to say 'Pitch Black' meets 'Mad Max' IN CONVERSATION but putting this type of description on official pitching documents should be avoided.

In conversation, casual charm and endearing comparisons are easy to generate as opposed to authorising the words on a page. (How many emails or blogger comments have you misread because you didn’t catch the tone?)

It's always best for someone to read your stuff and they say: "So it's Superman meets Alien" and you go: "Exactamundo" and they nod like they've cracked a secret code or something.

I had one exec describe my new horror as: "So it’s Donnie Darko meets American Werewolf in London" and while he thought this sounded cool, I had to say, er, actually the script is nothing like Donnie Darko meets American Werewolf. Although maybe I should start writing that...

9 comments:

James Moran said...

If they say "So it's X meets Y?" and they look all excited and happy - say yes... If it's the one I'm thinking of, then you could probably get away with it - if they read it and it's not what they expect, just say "hey, you said those movies, not me". Then set them on fire, and run away.

Tim Clague said...

Danny Stack is...

Father Ted meets Jack Nicolson from The Shining

james henry said...

Yay, I asked Danny that - thanks Danny.

I too, like the X meets Y, as it can so quickly sum up budget/atmosphere/structure. The only downside to this is if, say, you're talking to a film executive who, while you're pitching looks up the films you're mentioning on imdb so he can see the gross. It's a bit unnerving. Also tempts you to constantly add bigger an bigger titles: "it's BLAIR WITCH PROJECT meets LOST IN TRANSLATION meets PASSION OF THE CHRIST meets TITANIC meets... ALL THE LOTR FILMS PUT TOGETHER!!!!!'

Danny Stack said...

All work and no play makes Danny a - FECK! DRINK! GIRLSSS!

Pillock said...

I recently put '...It's a little like PUSHING TIN but with competetive supermums instead of air-traffic controllers' in an email. It seemed like a good sort of punchline to my logline. Does it sound cliched?

Danny Stack said...

Without the Pushing Tin reference, it's "competitive supermums" and it'd be "right, okay" but with the mention of Pushing Tin then it becomes "riiiiiight." So it works for me. And funny too so I presume that's the tone you're after.

Lucy said...

I like the so-and-so meets whatsit thing but then the only movie I've been commissioned on never got made. It was "Scream" meets "Brat Camp" so that's probably why.

What do you think of this device on pitching competitions designed for new writers? Do you think it should still be avoided if written down?

Danny Stack said...

Yes, avoid if written. Okay when spoken. But I'm sure there are those, especially on a pitching panel, who would bristle at the very thought.

Paul Campbell said...

I described ny first ever script as Four Weddings meets Die Hard.

It didn't sell.