Monday, June 04, 2007

Pitching Follow Up

Like with any good pitch you make, there'll be a section at the end where you'll be asked questions about what you've said. This will help clarify aspects of the characters or plot that your audience didn't quite grasp. Sometimes, the queries will completely throw you because they may demand further justification about the whole logic of the piece: "so how's the space/time salt shaker going to work, I don't get it?" And if they're not convinced by your explanation, then the final moments of the pitch can feel uncomfortable. Still, the final Q&A is a useful time where you can be more relaxed (hard part's over) and hopefully wrap up the pitch in a positive fashion.

And, in a similar style to a pitch, I received a few follow-up questions about Friday's post:

- Elliot and Rossio mention pitches usually last 10-20 min but I had been left with the impression that UK pitching was far shorter (2-10 min.). What is the 'norm' in the UK?

I don't think there is a 'norm' for how long pitches are, but they do usually last for at least 5 mins (that would be short) and probably peak at 20 mins. My pitch on Thursday lasted 15 mins of me talking but I was there for 45 mins, or close to an hour, in total.

- What do the people being pitched to actually want to hear about: character 'journey' or plot or 'other'? (delete as applicable?)

People want to hear your story, so you decide how best to pitch it; what you want to get across. This will usually be the idea, the characters involved and a broad description of the plot, but you tell them whatever they need to know.

- What is your advice for those, like me, who are pathologically nervous? I make those red panda fellers look like extroverts. After the few test pitches I've done I was advised by a senior tutor that if I can't pitch face to face then not only should I not pitch but I should actually quit screenwriting altogether as this is the real world!

Being nervous is ok, it can sometimes work in your favour, but you don't want to be so nervous that it ruins the pitch. People want to like you and your story so they're rooting for you before they even meet you. If you can't hold it together while pitching your story, then they're gonna be turned off, but if you're nervous, and you still manage to get across your story, and they like it, then sweet!

- How does pitching to 1, 2 or 3 people compare to pitching to 4 disparate industry people in front of an audience of your peers, previous graduates and a menagerie of tutors? Is it easier, harder, more nerve-racking?

As I said in the post, each pitch has a unique vibe depending on who (and how many) people you're pitching to; if they're strangers, friends, peers, students etc. It's gonna have a psychological effect, and what makes someone nervous will vary from person to person. For example, someone could feel confident pitching to total strangers but could buckle pitching to their friends. I didn't enjoy pitching when I first started but you gain experience at each pitch, and so the best thing to do is to keep at it, practice and if you have a story to tell, don't be afraid to pitch it to people when they ask.

Anybody got a pitching experience or tips they'd like to share?


Anonymous said...

A chance to pitch is a chance to show what you can do best. A chance to demonstrate your power as a writer - a chance to tell your story - a chance to mesmerise, flirt, ensnare, hook and trap 'them' into wanting more and giving you money. So you have to learn to love it - simply because for a scriptwriter, pitching can bring you everything you've ever wanted.

You have to adopt a positive mindset - pitching is your chance to shine - your birthday party - all eyes are on you tell your story, enjoy it, suck them in..

Don't second guess anyone. Be yourself, warts and all. If you're confident about your writing then you should be confident about pitching too.

My tip is : look for the one who looks most bored, then - focus (abstractly) on him/her. Win that person over and you've probably won over everybody...well maybe


Sal said...

Don't only have the pitch ready to go; be prepared to have a bit of relaxed chat too. Not everyone wants to hear someone launch into a rehearsed speech right away, they want to find out what you're like and whether they can work with you.