There are many books that will tell you how to pitch a film you want to make. Indeed, pitching is an art form. And like many art forms, you can master it with lots of training and mistakes. In this post, we will discuss the two-to-three minute pitch that’s very en vogue in festivals, markets all over the world.
The longest pitch we’ve been was 15 minutes. You can pitch GONE WITH THE WIND, its four sequels and still find the time to bake a soufflé in those 15 minutes. The shortest pitch can last the time an elevator takes from the fifth to the first floor. So why we chose the two-to-three minutes pitch?
Because we love it. It’s short and sweet. It gives you time to say everything that needs to be said, while forcing you to withhold the things you should save for later. So let’s talk a little bit about the subject. Here are a few concepts:
PITCHING IS A PERSONAL THING.
It is, really. There are 20 books that will claim to tell you how to pitch. We read them all. They are all great. They are all different. Yes, it’s great to read them because there are always things to learn there. However, two highly talented people wouldn’t pitch the same story the same way. Why wouldn’t they? They are not the same person. So, before you start, think about what you, as a communicator, can bring to the table before you start to speak. Do you have a great voice that makes people naturally shut up and listen to you? Not everybody do. So, before anything, you have to understand yourself: your flaws and advantages; and try to find a way to rely on those advantages. We all have some advantage somewhere: a great voice, a way of speaking that’s naturally captivating, the way you dress, the way you stand or move as you speak, a sense of humor, a kind of honesty… you’ve got something. Find it.
PITCHING IS ALSO ABOUT THE AUDIENCE.
Many times they don’t know you. And you don’t know them. However, you are all there for a common purpose. No, it’s not the love for movies. It’s business. Respect it and it will respect you back. Prepare in advance and your chances of success go up and up. The audience is quick to understand who does not prepare. They are also quick to spot those who has everything beautifully prepared. Do not underestimate the power of of the audience to help you do a great job. however, it all starts with you.
PITCHING IS NOT ABOUT SELLING YOUR FILM.
Pitching is about gaining time to continue the pitch later over a drink. The success of your pitch is measured, many times, by how many people became so intrigued that they come to you and want to buy you a drink and hear more about it. If they are agents, producers or executives that can help you move your project forward, that’s success. Keep in mind that very rarely films get financed right there, at that room where the pitch took place. In reality, it is that extra time you won that will be much more important, since it will be during the subsequent 1-to-1 talk that the all the elements needed (for the type of relationship that moves films forward) will start to appear.
PITCHING IS ALSO ABOUT SELECTING THE RELEVANT CONTENT.
What is the right content? Answer: the content that suits THREE THINGS: your STORY, the TIME you have available to pitch and what do you want to COMMUNICATE about yourself. You are not just pitching your project: you are also pitching yourself as the only person on Earth capable of turning that pitch into a great film.
HOW WE DO IT
This is pitching structure we are most comfortable with when it comes to something up to two minutes. We will first outline the elements and then explain why we like this structure.
1 – What is the setup of our story?
2 – Who is our protagonist?
3 – What opportunity or challenge this story will present to our protagonist?
4 – What is the concept presented in this story?
5 – What are the antagonistic forces at play?
6 – What is the motivation and the conflict of our protagonist?
7 – What complications further threaten you protagonist?
8 – What is the protagonist’s arch?
9 – What elements will engage the audience and generate empathy with the protagonist?
10 – What’s the theme of your story?
11 – What are the successful films that inspired this project?
12 – What’s your passion for this story?
If you look carefully, what this pitch structure does is to introduce the story without actually telling the story. You have the chance to visit all the points that are crucial to communicate value without going through the suicidal effort of trying to fit the telling of the story in two minutes. As you can see:
1-5: Give the story it’s main elements: characters, setting, what’s at stake, concept.
6-8: Give the way the story progresses and blooms into great horror.
9 – Gives the reason why this project will be relevant to the audience.
10 – Lets you go deeper into the film, letting us know what this is really about.
11 – Lets you frame the project commercially, contextualize it, position it.
12 – This is not just about money. It’s actually more important and personal than that.
In our opinion, this structure will make a great horror project shine brighter high above any other. How to say it two minutes? It’s not easy. It will take you days of work to get it right. However, if you manage to do it and do it effectively, you will be able to create many points of interest to be later explored once you have won more time with the people who matter to you. Also, keep in mind that this is how we like to do it. you may feel the need to do it differently. Like we said, pitching is a highly personal thing. It depends on you and on your project. For projects belonging to other genres, this may not work at all. And even within the horror genre, there may be many projects that may not need some of the points we follow – or you just need to rearrange them.
The good thing about film is that no two films are alike. Nor two people. So feel free to reject it, use it as it is (if it fits your film) or adapt it to your needs.