Pitching as process

Excitingly focussing my efforts on sticking to features is a step closer to paying off. However, I won’t count my chickens before they are hatched. Let’s just say I got some good news today about being shortlisted for a feature development programme.  It has many elements I was looking for in a programme (structured development, networking, masterclasses) and is on my doorstep. My fingers are crossed but as my mother always said – you make your own luck and preparation is the key. The fun bit of course in preparing for a pitch is that it helps to develop the project further in your head and on paper. This was always the case when i worked as a producer with writers and directors. An audience that listens intently and can give constructive criticism really helps to crystallise how to communicate the idea in a nutshell.

One of the techniques that seems to work and which I’ll be applying next week ahead of the shortlist meeting is to pitch to three people who structure their feedback in the following way:

  • Person 1: conveys the idea back to me in plain english and tells me what film or films it reminds them of.
  • Person 2: builds on the idea the idea by coming up with other directions for the story… ‘have you thought about… xyz’
  • Person 3: is critical of the idea… ‘yes but… this and this doesn’t make sense’.

You can of course modify the process and have one person play the part of all three listeners by pitching the idea three times and the listener plays person 1, 2 and 3 in succession. This is a little exhausting for the listener though.

Alternatively – if you don’t have anyone: record yourself talking and listen back three times playing out each perspective. I recommend using an untainted mind or fresh ears though.

All I have to do is think of my three people – one will definitely be my mum (movie maniac and ex-film distributor) and i should definitely have a director in there and someone who likes commercial movies. An interesting listener might be the sound designer who’s working on the Cote D’Azur project. He had really interesting ideas on a short script i wrote that helped inform a new draft.

So – plan for next week:

1. Focus the pitch to sell the idea, me, and relevance to the scheme

2. Decide on the three people and schedule a time to pitch the idea(s)

3. Practise the pitches.

4. Refine the pitch.

Look forward to it…! Just in writing this I am thinking that i will really enjoy the possibility of networking with other writers. Its a lonely affair and it was fun meeting the London lot at Film London.

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