Pitch to win: a step-by-step guide
You have a great idea for a film. All you need is the right partner to invest in your vision. But how do you get that vision across? By creating a killer of a pitch.
We’ve put together a list of 6 steps that will help you articulate your vision, and hopefully turn your project into a reality.
Step 1: THE STORY
It all starts with story. You can have everything else in place, but if your concept and story aren’t there, you’re dead in the water. While you don’t need a production-ready screenplay at this point, you do need to be able to articulate the story coherently.
What does that mean? You need a compelling narrative. Regardless of the subject matter, it needs to be engaging, cinematic and have a clear identity. We’re talking themes, characters and context all locked down and fleshed out.
Why is it so important to have the story ready? Because it’s literally your starting point. Making a film is a huge business undertaking, and if the story isn’t going to appeal to a wide audience, the business case simply isn’t there for investors and producers.
You need to be able to show them that your story is unique, fits into an appealing genre, has a strong moral premise, interesting characters and, most importantly, that it’s relevant to the audience in the market you’re pitching it to.
Step 2: DISTILL
Once you have your concept, it needs to be distilled. Investors and potential partners need to be able to understand the “elevator pitch” in as quick a time as possible. You need three things to do this:
1) The log line
This is your two- to three-sentence premise that succinctly tells your audience what the film is about. After listening to the log line, producers and investors should know what the film is about both thematically, and in terms of plot, as well as who the protagonist is, what their goal is, and who or what the antagonist is.
Your synopsis fleshes out the log line, and essentially retells the story in 300 to 700 words. The aim is to write out your verbal pitch to generate interest in the story your film is going to tell. All the important elements must be included – characters, their arcs, actions, reactions and major plot points. This is all done in chronological order.
3) Project overview
This is a one-page bullet-point overview of the project. It exists to help the reader identify the project scale, territories and target market. The page should include:
– Running time
– Director and producers
– Budget estimate
– Key cast (but only if they’re already attached)
Step 3: COMMUNICATE
Now you need to be able to communicate your creative approach to the project effectively.
Put together a creative treatment or comprehensive visual pitch deck. This must explain the visual ideas behind the project – everything from production design to cinematography, costume, character looks, and more.
Everything in the treatment must reflect your vision. The images you use, the palette and even the font choices should all be communicating a single coherent vision.
A visual deck must include the following pages:
– Character profiles
– Director’s treatment
– Look and feel (cinematography, production design, costumes)
– Film references
– Cast options
– Team bios
– Contact details
Step 4: GROUND THE IDEA
So far, you’ve covered all the ideas. Now you need to get into the nitty gritty. Tell your potential investors what the physical requirements of the film are.
How much is it going to cost (in US$)? How long will it take to shoot (in weeks)? Where will you shoot (provide location info and options)? When are you aiming to release (year)?
This will give your investors a realistic idea of the scale of the project and what their contribution could look like.
This information can be presented as simple bullet points that are included in the Project Overview page (Step 2) or as part of the Pitch Deck (Step 3).
Step 5: ALIGN
This is one of the more difficult steps (which is often overlooked or skipped). But it’s essential if you want to be seen as a credible project.
Try and align the film with a key creative. Getting a respected and well-known director or on-screen performer attached will immediately make your project more attractive.
Additionally, letters of intention from festival programmers and other industry players are very beneficial. They act as reference letters for your pitch.
Step 6: SHOW DON’T TELL
You’ve set out to make a film, and the best way to articulate your vision is by showing it off visually. A proof-of-concept short film (a scene from your feature script that has been reworked into a short) can persuade even the most cynical investor, provided it’s competently produced and that it puts across a coherent vision.
This will provide credibility and allow you to market your film a lot easier.
And that’s it. Your pitch is ready. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just following these steps. If you don’t have the right vision, and can’t implement it properly, you won’t succeed.
But by following this formula, you’re giving yourself the best chance of attracting the right investors and producing partners.
Do you have a brilliant idea to share? Send us your packaged film: firstname.lastname@example.org