Smack My Pitch Up

Woah there wait a minute… rewind to about two weeks ago and as part of the Triangle scheme, me and my team (writer, producer, director) along with several other hopefuls put our pitching skills into practice to a panel of producers, screen agencies and a sales agent. It wasn’t pretty – our pitch was just before lunch and the panel were hungry! As soon as I walked into the room I knew we were dead in the water – everything that could go wrong pretty much did go wrong – the technicals didn’t work, I sat in the wrong seat, we came across disjointed – and the hungry panel ripped holes in our story.

We weren’t quite ready and needed practice, practice, practice but then again I don’t think we would have progressed much further as the panel seemed to be keen on commercial fair (i.e. genre) that could be put in front of the BFI fund, Film4 and BBC Films at the Edinburgh Film Festival. I think the panel went with two comedies, a zombie movie and a psychological drama in the end. Triangle was fun while it lasted and I met some great people, especially the producer and director that I worked with and got a sense of what’s out their across the North – some very talented peeps and some great locations. I look forward to hearing more on the projects that now go on to script development and production of a teaser/ trailer.

The pitch took place in Newcastle at Northern Film and Media and the three of us took the train over together. After the pitch we went to chill and look at some art at the Baltic gallery. We were all very relaxed and jovial despite the horror of the ten minute pitch from hell and enjoyed a view from the Baltic across the Tyne and lunch in the cafe.

If I were to do it all again I would: avoid pitching before lunch (if what the panel had to eat has an impact in the same way judicial decisions depend on whether the panel broke for lunch, the last slot before lunch is best avoided), stick to genre, outline the key turning points with images, write a treatment to start with, then a 1 pager and logline and practice the pitch together til it could be told twenty different ways to any tom dick or harry on any day of the week.

Nothing wasted however, as two weeks on and my pitching skills were once again put to the test (this time with lower stakes) and I had a good pitch and a bad pitch on the SOS, Save our script European programme where we pitched to peers, script developers, producers and broadcasters. At the end of the day it all comes down to personality and confidence – weighing up the people on the panel and how to pitch it – and having the courage to change what you say if you get a sense of what they will respond well to. One thing I took with me from the Triangle programme to the SOS programme was the ‘What if’ (premise) pitch which seemed to work really well with high concept film ideas.

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