As I’ve mentioned in passing around here, lately I’ve been attending a lot of pitch meetings for various projects I’m producing, and as I’ve said time and time again you can never be too prepared for one of these meetings. In fact. I tend to over prepare every time and make sure I have answers to any possible questions that even might be thrown my way. The funny thing is that in most cases, only some of the questions get thrown my way that I’ve prepped for, but every once in a while they all do. So I’ve learned to be ready for that ‘every once in a while’! :-D
I thought I’d show you the outline of notes that I make before I go into a meeting and how I tend to prepare. Hopefully this will help give you some ideas of what you need to be doing as you set up your own meetings.
Oh, and imagine this is for a feature film and you’re pitching to either Agents or Managers about getting talent attached, or a Production Company about coming on board as a partner.
Let’s say you’re going into an Agency or Management Company to pitch about getting some of their talent attached (whether it’s actors or directors). This may sound like common sense but you better have fully researched who their clients are, watched samples of their work, and know what they’re working on now and coming up next. All this info can be found on IMDB Pro by the way so there’s no excuse for not fully vetting their clients. Go in with your ‘hit list’ of who you are interested in and be prepared to discuss why you want them for the job based on previous work they’ve done, etc.
Next…if you’re the Producer on the project and presumably not the writer of the script you’re pitching, be prepared to answer questions about the writer. Does he/she have any produced credits or are they a ‘new’ writer? Since I mostly work with new writers, I don’t typically offer up information about them unless asked. And if I am asked, I’m ready to talk about how talented they are, with a unique voice, high concept ideas, and even what they’re working on next.
Have your log line down pat! Your log line should be one or two sentences only and should explain what the film is about but also allow the person you’re pitching to put it in context. For example — your log line might look like this:
“It’s an Action/Adventure story about a bank robber who gets caught and goes on the run to Bermuda where he starts a new life and a new identity. It’s in the vein of “Minority Report” or “The Bourne Identity”
Obviously this is a totally bunk log line but it should give you the idea of what the structure should look like. Be sure to include genre and references to other films which helps paint the picture for the person receiving your pitch.
I have never gone into a pitch meeting with financing in place. Not once! But I have a Financing Plan at the ready to spout off – and you better too! When they ask if the project is financed, I say ‘not yet… but my strategy is to package the film first and then go after Pre-Sales, Tax incentives, and gap loans’ (or something like that). If you’re pitching to the right people (ie: high level enough) that’ll be enough for them nod their head and move on to the next topic in the conversation. That’s right – they’ll just assume you know what you’re doing.
The important part here is that you’ve already thought out your financing plan and can say it with confidence. Don’t waiver or be wishy washy here — you’ve got to have conviction that if they pass on your project to their clients you are capable of getting the film financed.
I usually carry my iPad 2 with me to pitch meetings and have either a teaser video or pitch packet to show, and I find it’s a great way to open up the meeting and set the stage for things and show the other person what the project is about. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Some notes on time….
Remember these are busy people and you should plan to be out of there in 15-30 minutes. That’s why it’s so important to have your outline ready and be prepared to present your case and discuss your most important points because if you waste time with small talk or other nonsense you might risk not giving your full ‘presentation’ as it were. (by the way, I usually have my outline memorized so I’m not reading from a piece of paper – but always have my little moleskin book with me, page bookmarked, in case i forget something and need a quick reference).
Speaking of that moleskin book….. I have it out and am usually scribbling little notes as I go so not to forget the important bits later – especially if they start suggesting other talent that they represent… you’ll need to write that down so you can research them after the meeting.
What Else Do You Have?
Finally, I’m always prepared to talk about what else I have on my slate because sometimes the person you’re pitching to doesn’t jive with the project at hand…but likes you and wants to know what else you’ve got. So have your other log lines ready to rattle off!
Usually my pitches go something like this:
• Give the pitch/log line
• Show video or pitch packet on iPad to give visual idea
• Mention the directors or talent I have in mind that they represent (if pitching to agents or managers) or the talent prototypes I have in mind (if pitching to a Production Company)
• The Financing Plan
• Talk about what else I’ve got in the pipeline
Feel free to create your own version of this but the last point I want to make is this: be flexible enough to go with the flow of a meeting. For example, you may not have time enough to hit on all these points, or the person you’re pitching to may not be interested in seeing anything on your iPad (or they’re attention spans are so small they move on to the next topic mid-video)…. but whatever the case is don’t take anything personally and just go with the flow! Remember, you want them to like you too so you must be flexible in your approach and not get snippy!
I’ve been in meetings before where this whole outline goes out the window and I’ve had to think on my feet… fast! So the point is don’t be so rigid in your delivery that you can’t engage the person, meet them where they’re at, and still get your point across and ‘sell’ your project.
Which brings me to this — remember the whole point of a Pitch Meeting is to ‘sell’ your project to them… so don’t forget that this is the main purpose!
So what about you? How do you conduct your Pitch Meetings and how do they differ from what I’ve outlined above?
And did I leave anything out? Let me know what you think by commenting below….
For more in-depth material on Pitching and Packaging, here’s some additional resources which you can find on the Film Specific website:
• Creating and Pitching A Killer Concept: A Virtual Seminar with Stacey Parks
• A Screenwriters Guide To Breaking In: A Virtual Seminar with Michael Elliot