Monday Prescriptions – Pitch Perfect

Hi Film Folk!

What do you have planned for this week? The Film Doctor Team, for example, are in meetings galore – as mentioned before, we’re putting the money where our mouth is and developing own film projects too.

Speaking of meetings, today’s Monday Prescription is going to be about the art of pitching. And we’d like to point out that this also includes your own first impression, as much as it is to do with “selling” your project.

Pitching a film project is akin to any other sales task or advertising. So we thought it would be apt to take a leaf from sales people’s books and distill it to the “Golden Tips for Perfect Pitching”.

  • You ARE Half the Pitch – Before you even open your mouth your clothes/posture/facial expression, etc. have already spoken volumes. The best sales people excel in their task because they look convincing – they look people in the eye, they don’t forget to smile, they stand/sit straight, their hands aren’t all over the place but also not just limply resting on their laps. They project enthusiasm but are not pushy or aggressive (no overselling!). So, remember, your pitch starts the moment you enter the room – therefore, enter with confidence and smile. Might seem silly and/or obvious, but do dress appropriately – know the ‘audience’ you’re pitching to and choose what to wear accordingly. Don’t overdo it though – a full suit is almost always too much and actually distances you from the people you’re talking to. Then, you also need to not just look but sound convincing – how you say what you say is something to practice. Don’t rush while talking, be articulate and don’t forget to take breaths between the sentences. Most importantly, project your passion about your project onto your pitch – sound excited about it. Persuasion comes on many levels and the most effective one is often the emotive one – i.e. connect with your listener on the feelings plane. You know the idea is great? Make us feel the same!  
  • Build rapport – Don’t just overwhelm the person with a breakdown of your idea right away, be friendly and approach the pitching session as any other meeting – connect with the people you’re pitching to, they’re not just bodies in a room.  Whether you tell a joke or honestly admit to being nervous, what matters is that you “warm up the room temperature”.
  • Set the bait right – As with classic copywriting, the first sentence is a lead in and is meant to be one that entices people to read/listen on. So when writing your pitch document, make sure the first sentence has the two ‘E’s – exciting, engaging. Maybe, you could use your log-line to open up your pitch/presentation. Or ‘break the mold  and make your opening sentence a question to the ‘audience’ – “Have you ever…?”, “What if…?” or “How would you…?” could all be good lead-ins to your film’s story.
  • What are the benefits? – This is regarding making a pitch for film investment. In this case the excitement should be created about the business proposition, not the story – what would your investors get from supporting your film? Why should they part with their money?  Here don’t pitch unusual narrative structures and tense plot lines – pitch stars, sales and returns. If someone on your team has any awards or such, bring those forward – a sign of industry recognition is a reassurance for those deciding to give you money. What advantages does your project have over others? Emphasise the benefits of financing your film. Think of every ad you see on TV – it tells you what you’ll get from the product/service in exchange for the money spent. TV commercials make alluring promises – same goes for your investors pitch.
  • Spoiler Alert // Keep it snappy – Unless you’re specifically asked to re-tell the treatment, don’t give out all of the story’s details or describe every single scene/character. A pitch is about setting up the premise and being concise – X is this, X wants this, but that happens.  If the people you’re pitching to want to know more, they will ask questions.
  • Be respectful – Confidence and arrogance are two different things. Don’t walk into your pitch meeting as if you or your project is God’s gift, or (oh horror!) disagree with anything said. Even if your project is the best thing since sliced bread but people fail to recognise it, be polite about it. Consider that maybe your project is simply not the right genre for the people you’re pitching to, or that maybe you need to work on presenting the idea. In any case, get feedback and thank the people for their time.

‘Monday Prescription’ No.35 – Pitching is about engaging with the people and making them excited about your project. Don’t do “hard sales” but show your love and enthusiasm for the film, while letting its best points shine.

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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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