Hollywood Pitching

This coming week, I have the pleasure of being a panelist with the incredibly talented Anne Perry at the Central Coast Writers’ Conference. This is no small miracle! I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Our topic: Turning Your Novel Into A Movie. Hooray!

I’ve had the pleasure of sitting on both sides of the table when it comes to pitches. I’ve heard and delivered. Most recently, I pitched my book to a production company who requested more information. My pitch took all of five minutes (which was the allotted time) and contained a few simple ingredients.

An Internet search on pitching to Hollywood reveals much information on what the pitch should contain, but what I’d like to offer today are a few quick tips to make the pitch memorable and inviting. How to make the person on the other side of the table interested. But first, what not to say:

– You’re going to love this!
– There has never been a story like this before.
– I can’t tell you what it’s about because you might steal my idea.
– This will make you/us rich if you’re willing to play ball!

I’ve heard all of the above from the days of hearing pitches. The acquisitions director or the agent/lawyer really do prefer to reach their own conclusions. Also, know that ideas will not be stolen because ideas are not protected under copyright law. It’s the specific content that’s protected – the words. So if you wrote a story about a boy who discovers he’s a wizard, will you be violating a certain someone’s copyright? Not unless you write the same story or enough of the same story where it looks like you lifted scenes, chapters etc., from the original work. So how to make the production companies interested?

Besides having the correct content for the pitch (which is really a mini story), delivery is vital. Ingredients of a solid delivery:

– Start by building rapport. Do you have something in common with the person who’s hearing the pitch? If so, mention it, assuming that something is of a positive nature. If not, a simple thank you for taking the time to meet will do. Also, genuine compliments are always nice to hear.
– Make your talk pleasant or compelling. If it’s a serious topic, now is the time to display compassion or the right amount of emotion to tug at the listener’s heartstrings (assuming the person sitting across from you has a heart, which sometimes goes MIA in the entertainment industry). If it’s a pleasant topic, remember to insert smiles. You are not just selling the story, but yourself as the author.
– Think of it as a conversation where you’re telling a short, exciting, suspenseful tale; one you know quite well because you wrote it. Make the listener want to know more.
– Display your enthusiasm for the project. Who doesn’t want to work with an author that’s excited about her novel?
– Be sincere. If you’re sincere about your novel, it will not only make an impact, but will make listening a must.

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Good luck! you are great.