You’ve sent out an email or been to a networking event and people responded positively to your movie pitch, asking you to “send me the pitch package” – what do you do now?
Who responded – Does your movie fit their slate?
- Do some research on the company – and on the individual to whom you send your package.
- Due diligence – it’s OK to ask around to see if they’re good people to work with.
The pitch package should include:
LOGLINE / SUMMARY / SYNOPSIS
- Logline – a short, powerful summation of the movie – the ‘elevator’ pitch; succinct and attention grabbing. It’s a ‘trailer’ for your script.
- Summary – you don’t have to do this but (usually) the person you are sending the project to has to summarise it for others – help them get it right.
- Prepare a one paragraph summary; a longer story synopsis is useful too.
GENRE / AUDIENCE / COMPS
- Genre – be clear about genre; it might be an ‘elevated’ horror film with a smart underlying theme – but the genre is still horror.
- Audience – who’s going to see your movie? Be honest – if it’s R rated, then only those over 18 will see it. Is it a movie skewed for a female audience; or an older ‘silver dollar’ crowd.
- Look at similar movies and see which demographic they cover.
- Comps – this means ‘comparisons’ – see if you can find 5-10 other movies which you feel are similar to your story – and would attract a similar audience.
- Be realistic in terms of comps – story / budget size / cast levels. One of the oddest pitches I received said that their low budget action movie was “going to be everything Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn’t” – hmm, I think Steven Spielberg covered all the angles in that movie.
SCRIPT / LEGALS / FINANCE PLAN
- Script – send this as a PDF document – it’s a safe format; & nobody wants to download special software in order to read a script.
- Include page numbers – if someone likes your project & wants to give you notes, not having page numbers will hinder that process. Also, if the script is too short or overlong – they’ll work it out anyway during the read.
- Legals – is the movie based on pre-exisiting IP – do you have the rights? Sellers / buyers want to know the ‘chain of title’ – documents / agreements establishing producer’s ownership of rights – is clean.
- Budget / Finance Plan – this doesn’t have to be the entire budget / schedule – it does need to be a top sheet and an indication of where you are with the finance right now e.g. where will you shoot – is there an available tax credit; soft monies from Government bodies who may have supported the development; some equity investment; pre-sold distribution territories.
LOOK BOOK / CAST & CREW – BIOGS
- Look Book / Mood Reel – film is a ‘visual’ medium & sometimes a 30 second clip can say more than 5 pages of writing. Pull together a look book which gives a sense of mood & tone for your movie. If you can cut together footage – again, this can give a good sense of how you ‘see’ the movie – tone / pacing / colour (sepia & moody or bright & fun).
- Cast – do you have talent attached OR are you looking to package this with the help of an EP / sales partner? It’s a chicken / egg situation. The sales can’t be made without the cast attached – but often you need sales / finance on board in order to encourage talent (& their agents) to attach themselves. If you have an LOI from talent – subject to finance – include this.
- Crew – who will be working with you on this movie? If they’re signed up, list them and a short biog (as well as one on yourself obviously). Mainly useful for Heads of Department at this stage e.g. DoP; Editor; Line Producer; other Exec Producers (especially if they have experience / credits).
HOW LONG DO YOU WAIT …
- Now … send your professional looking movie pitch package and wait.
- Don’t wait too long – follow up within two weeks; then a weekly follow up / gentle nudge is acceptable.
- Remember that people will have movie pitch packages sent to them every day – and they will read the ones from people they know first.
If you get a positive response to the pitch package, great – now is the time to build a relationship. Maybe you get a pass – don’t panic, it just means it wasn’t right for them at this time. Just be gracious and ask if it’s a straight “no .. never” OR could you follow up should the script improve / elements attached change. You’re in this for the long game and relationship building is essential.