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Shawn Forno

how to pitch your script

How to Pitch Your Script Like a Pro: 6 Tips from Hollywood Execs

By Inside Look

Pitch meetings are scary, especially if you’ve never pitched to a room full of reps or studio executives. Luckily, there’s something you can do to fight the pitch meeting jitters and pitch your script like a seasoned pro. How do we know? Because we asked dozens of studio executives, agents, reps, and Hollywood decision-makers who took part in our most recent Coverfly Fall Pitch Week what they’re looking for in a pitch meeting. And they had a lot to say.

After hearing over 250 pitches from 123 writers during Coverfly Pitch Week, here are the six most common pieces of advice Hollywood insiders have for screenwriters pitching their scripts. Follow these tips and own the room during your next pitch meeting.

How to pitch your script like a pro: Coverfly Pitch Week

  • 250 Pitches
  • 123 Writers
  • Virtual pitches from Australia, The UK, Canada, Italy, and over 20 states
  • Most pitches for a single writer: 8
  • Most pitches for a rep: 31
  • 78 project requests and counting!

Here’s everything you need to know to make your next script pitch meeting a success.

Don’t be a jerk

Be nice, be polite, be on time, smile, and be engaged. This might seem like the easiest bit of advice, but it bears repeating. Kindness and professionalism go a long way. The best part is that it’s easy to do! No matter what else happens, be a good person and your pitch will start off on the right foot.

Focus on what makes you unique

There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of talented screenwriters in the same format and genre. The only way for you to stand out from the crowd is to focus on what makes you — and only you— unique. Your life experience, your voice, your projects, and your story are special. Truly. Our Pitch Week reps reiterated that the most impactful pitches are from unique places. They want to hear original pitches from original voices.

What makes you and your story different from the other pitches they hear day in and day out? If you can uncover and highlight that distinction, your pitch stands a better chance of making a lasting first impression on Hollywood decision-makers.

Shoot your shot

Don’t hold back. During Pitch Week (and most Hollywood script pitch meetings) you only get 12 minutes to make a strong impression. 720 seconds. That’s not a lot of time to make a studio exec or rep want to read your script (and hopefully sign you). Don’t spew your life story at 500 wpm, but don’t waste time with too much chit chat either. This is your shot. Take it.

The floor is yours to say what you need to communicate to get the most impressive and exciting stuff you have to offer out there. There’s no wrong way to present your pitch, as long as you have a plan. Hone your pitch and practice what you want to say in 12 minutes (or less) and you’ll be ready to rock your next pitch meeting.

Don’t just say what happens in the story, focus on how the audience will experience it

A pitch meeting is not a plot synopsis. Do not waste your (and their) time recapping every scene in linear order. A successful pitch meeting focuses not just on what makes your project special, but how audiences will react to it. That’s what ultimately sells. That means it’s not just about the story, but how the story will be told.

  • What’s the narrative structure?
  • How will the script make the audience feel?
  • Why is this story important to audiences right now?

Widen the scope of your pitch to the impact of your story, not just the details, and you’ll entice decision-makers to imagine that script on the big screen.

Be confident

There’s nothing more contagious than enthusiasm. You’ve worked hard on your script. Be proud of it! All of the reps and executives we spoke with during Pitch Week said they love it when screenwriters are excited to talk about their work. A script pitch meeting isn’t supposed to be boring. They want to be swept up in your enthusiasm. If you can share your energy and passion in a way that gets others excited about your project and your vision, you’re on your way to a successful pitch and maybe even a project request.

Also, never undercut your work or fixate on what’s wrong with it. It’s ok to be humble(ish), but your pitch meeting is not the time to be self-deprecating. Take pride in all your hard work because if you don’t champion your script, no one else will. Confidence goes a long way in a pitch meeting.

Find what we have in common

Pitch meetings aren’t just about scripts. They’re about building relationships. You have to convince executives not only that you’re a talented writer with a white-hot script. You also have to show them that you’re someone they will want to work with on this project and future projects to come. Forge that relationship.

Pitch meetings aren’t even always about successfully pitching your script. Sometimes your project won’t make sense for a studio or rep. But that doesn’t mean they won’t want to work with you. If you can show that you’re talented, hard-working, and aligned with their production process, you can build a working relationship that lasts long after your 12-minute pitch is over. Remember that connections and networking are still key to success in Hollywood. Use your time wisely and build relationships during your next pitch meeting.

How to pitch your script to Hollywood insiders and studio execs

Pitch meetings don’t have to be scary. Remember that you’re in that room (or Zoom!) for a reason. Be confident, be courteous, show that you’re capable, and highlight your originality. Every pitch meeting is a chance to not only showcase your script but an opportunity to build working relationships with Hollywood insiders that can last for years. Try to relax and connect with the people in the room and you’ll be off to a great start in Hollywood.

how to get signed as a screenwriter

How to Go from Film School to Screenwriter in 3 Months

By Success Stories

Recently we had a chance to chat with screenwriter, Chaz Hawkins who is hot off his recent signing with manager, Aaron Lipsett at Heroes & Villains Entertainment just three months after graduating from film school. Learn how Chaz’s broke into the screenwriting industry and sold two of his scripts during a pandemic just a few months into his career.

how to become a screenwriter Coverfly: What were some of the biggest obstacles to your screenwriting career goals when you started out?

Chaz Hawkins: Timing.

I came into this industry during a strange time. A pandemic confined people to their homes while a civil rights movement beckoned us to the streets. And the economy took another “once-in-a-lifetime” downturn. At twenty-five, I have lived through, not one, not two, but three “once-in-a-lifetime” economic downturns.

I’m starting to doubt the education of people who repeat the phrase “once in a lifetime.” But I’ve realized now, there’s great humanity in this chaos.

CF: What are some of your biggest challenges and accomplishments in your young screenwriting career so far?

Definitely selling my first two screenplays THE SAUCE and PLIMOTH. It’s crazy graduating from Loyola Marymount University in May into a pandemic and being told, “Hey! Things are wild. Don’t expect much.” Then…BAM! I sold THE SAUCE in my first general ever. Literally, day one ended in a handshake. Blew my mind.

My greatest challenge at the moment is keeping up! My time management has become more crucial than ever as I juggle both projects in development while writing and devising my next three.

CF: What were you hoping to gain from Coverfly when you first signed up for the platform?

When I joined Coverfly, I sought to get in front of as many eyes as possible. Cast a wide net and all that in hopes that just one pair might see something in my stories. Like every other emerging artist in this biz, I wanted that first job. No one’s going to give you that first industry co-sign, but everyone wants you to have it. So you have to buckle down, hustle, and take it. The pandemic forced me to get craftier, and Coverfly increased my visibility while Hollywood was “shut down.”

CF: What was it like to sign with a manager and then option two screenplays in the span of three months.

It’s been odd. It’s like being in a state of suspended animation. Heroes and Villains manager, Aaron Lipsett signed me in June. Together we decided to use my horror feature THE SAUCE as my introduction to the greater entertainment industry. It made sense. It speaks to a lot of what’s going on outside our windows. The protests, the unfairness, the indecency. Some people just got too caught up in being Democratic or Republican that they forgot how to be human. THE SAUCE puts a fun but incisive lens on that.

I came into that first general (my first ever general) with Scott Free a bit nervous. But after a spirited pitch, I left with my first handshake. It was an incredible feeling. THE SAUCE was also the first feature I’d written after my father passed in October of 2018, and, miraculously, I got to trust it to Scott Free who made my father’s favorite movie of all time, GLADIATOR. In a way, they’ll be able to immortalize him with something I wrote, but that was just meeting number one after graduating merely a month and a half before. Talk about a high bar!

From then on, I was in my element Zooming from room to room, person to person, doing the water bottle tour from the comfort of my own apartment, which presents a unique advantage. Now, I can meet tons of amazing people in one day instead of driving all over town. That helped “keep the hot plate cooking.” That’s what we’d say in my mother’s house, at least.

PLIMOTH found a foothold with Creator Media (the John Wick Franchise!) which was a different experience. PLIMOTH was a passion project on the other end of the spectrum to THE SAUCE. A Turkey Day horror affair where Vampire Pilgrims invade the New World in search of Squanto.

I knew that, once THE SAUCE was off my hands, PLIMOTH was up next because I wanted to use my voice to push the needle forward for both of my identities — the American Black and Cherokee. So I started pitching it more fervently as my “leave behind.” After a great general with Creator Media, they fell in love with it.

I know that all sounds kind of epic and crazy, but, like, nobody pinch me. Please.

CF: What’s next for your writing career? What are your short term and long term goals?

Right now, I want to focus on making THE SAUCE and PLIMOTH the best that they can be. So I’m devoting the majority of my bandwidth to their continued development. For my next move, I’ll be sitting in the director’s chair organizing a fun, high-octane, horror feature I’m developing with my team, FIGHT NIGHT.

I’m, also, developing a one-hour grounded sci-fi/western pilot, which will blend Cherokee myth with the Native expulsions of 1839, THE BIRD, THE BARD, AND THE BEETLE. Long term, I’ll build and run my own production company, so that I can open doors for others. It’s more fun to play this game when everyone can.

CF: What’s a common misconception among aspiring screenwriters?

That one day your work will be perfect. Don’t get me wrong. Never take a crap step forward, but, at some point, we have to take a step. Waiting for that “perfect” draft is time wasted. There will always be other voices with opinions, so be happy with your work. Defend it, but always expect someone somewhere to find a flaw. It is up to you to decide whether you fix that flaw or not.

CF: If you could give aspiring writers one bit of advice from a craft standpoint, what would it be?

Pay attention. I know it’s hard to sit right now because of the madness happening everywhere. I don’t care about your politics, but this moment is beckoning us all to pay attention, listen, and recontextualize.

Emotions are so raw. My craft has benefitted from sharpening against it. Protesting, listening, and feeling allows me the opportunity to find strength in my own black and native experiences in America. Now, my craft uses that power to fight tooth and nail on the page too.

CF: If you could give aspiring writers one bit of advice from a career standpoint, what would it be?

Some writers come into the business with a diminished value on their worth to the greater Hollywood machine. It’s got a spotlight on it now, thanks to the WGA, but know your agency in these rooms. Writers provide the blueprint to which the rest of Hollywood stands, and they just want to meet us, talk about that crazy story we have, or brainstorm something together that’s even crazier because they want to build something with us that they cannot build by themselves.

If you enter that first room tentatively, all of the opportunities slowly slip until they’re snatched away from you like Anna Sophia Robb in BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA.

Start your screenwriting career

Sign up for your own Coverfly account to create a professional screenwriting profile that will kickstart your screenwriting career. Read more screenwriter success stories here to get the inspiration for your next project.

pitch week tips

How to Get Chosen for Pitch Week

By Events, Success Stories, Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again — Coverfly Pitch Week. And this year’s line-up of agents, managers, producers, and studio execs have selected 123 screenwriters for nearly 250 pitches! In fact, many talented screenwriters who submitted to Pitch Week were selected to pitch their scripts to more than one industry decision-maker. Here’s a quick look at how Coverfly Pitch Week selection works, and a few of the common factors that we found between our roster of successful screenwriters that were chosen to pitch this year.

How many screenwriters were chosen for Coverfly Pitch Week (September 2020)?

  • 123 screenwriters were selected for 250 pitches total
  • Just under half of all writers were selected for at least 2 separate pitches
  • 12 writers were chosen for 3 pitches
  • 7 writers were tapped for 4 pitches
  • 6 writers are pitching to 5 groups
  • 5 writers were selected for 6 different pitches
  • And one talented screenwriter was selected for 8 separate pitches!

This Pitch Week is absolutely jam-packed with top-tier writers, agents, managers, Hollywood literary agents, and development execs from companies like CAA, Good Fear, Circle of Confusion, Zero Gravity, Lee Stobby Entertainment, Cartel Entertainment, Management 360, and many more. If you want to learn how these screenwriters were chosen and what they have in common, read this writer roundup so you’re ready to pitch at our next Pitch Week — February 21-25, 2021.

How screenwriters get chosen for Pitch Week: 3 things they have in common

The selection process for Coverfly Pitch Week is full of intangibles and variables. However, we were able to find some common trends among the 123 writers that were selected to pitch to industry professionals. Here are three of our biggest takeaways for how to make your profile, logline, and scripts stand out so you can pitch to Hollywood decision-makers:

A strong personal bio

Nearly every single writer that was selected to pitch this year has a professional bio on their screenwriting profile. Not only that, each of these bios lets development executives know exactly what kind of screenwriter they’re looking at. Pitch Week writers clearly state who they are, what kind of screenplays they write, what their goals are, and how their professional experiences have influenced not just their most recent screenplays, but all of their work. The first step to getting your screenplay pitch ready is filling out your writer’s bio. Make yours as descriptive as you can.

A clear photo that captures their personality

Every single one of the top selected writers for Pitch Week this year had a clear, professional photo on their profile. It’s 2020. There’s no excuse not to have a decent, posed profile picture on your personal or Coverfly screenwriter page. You can even get a decent picture with portrait mode on an old iPhone. Find a friend or grab a tripod and take a good picture of yourself.

If you want to get your script in front of industry insiders you need to have a profile picture on your site. End of story.

Add multiple projects to your profile

All of the top selected writers each have multiple projects on their profile pages. And while these scripts and projects varied from features to TV they were all consistent in voice, style, and tone. Use your profile to highlight your range. It’s ok to write for TV and for Film. In fact, writing in multiple formats can make you an enticing candidate for studios looking for diverse and multi-talented screenwriters.

How to get selected for Coverfly Pitch Week

Pitch Week is your chance to get your screenplay in front of some of the most influential managers, producers, and agents in Hollywood. Learn more about how you (and your script!) can prepare for the next Coverfly Pitch Week here. And remember, Pitch Week is free for Coverfly members, so sign up now!

professional screenwriter profile

How to Create a Professional Screenwriter Profile

By About Coverfly

You need a professional screenwriter profile if you want to pitch to top studio executives, agents, and managers. If you’ve written a handful of scripts, purchased coverage, or submitted your scripts to competitions it’s time to take your career to the next level with a professional-looking screenwriter profile. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to create a clean, professional screenwriter profile that highlights your skills, accolades, and past projects so you can pitch (and sell!) your scripts to producers, agents, managers, showrunners, and industry decision-makers.

Here’s how to create a great screenwriting profile on Coverfly in seven easy steps.

How to create a professional screenwriting profile

Every professional screenwriter needs to have these 7 elements on their profile page:

  1. Your full name (or the name of your writing partnership)
  2. A (good) high-resolution headshot or profile photo. It’s never been easier to take a quality profile picture. Grab a friend (or a tripod), get some good lighting, turn on “portrait mode” and don’t stop until you get a great photo.
  3. Short bio. A three sentence bio is the industry standard and includes things like your most recent or most impressive accomplishment, an overview of your portfolio, and how your personal experience informs your writing.
  4. Latest draft, logline, and info for every project in your portfolio. More is always better.
  5. Representation status. Are you looking for representation? Do you already have representation? Please list it here
  6. Credits or previous work experience. If you’ve been staffed on a show, list it here
  7. Claim any wins, placements, or accolades. Now isn’t the time to be humble. If you placed—or won—any competitions list your successes. Awards and finalists lists are a great way to set your profile apart. Note: Coverfly automatically tracks placements for you, but if any Coverfly-qualifying placements are missing, you can request them be linked to your profile here.

Lastly, make sure to update your profile page URL with your name (not a string of random string of numbers). This not only makes your profile look more professional, it also (literally) gets your name out there if someone searches for you!

screenwriter profile accolades

It really does make a big difference when your profile is 100% up to date. Producers and development executives want to know their working with a pro. And agents, managers, and showrunners will appreciate your attention to detail.

What NOT to include in your screenwriter profile

A good profile is also clean. Keep your profile focused on the the genre or style of screenplay you want to sell or the type of show you want to be staffed on and you’ll increase your chances for success. Also, try to avoid these common screenwriter profile mistakes:

  • Grainy or low-quality profile photos
  • Weird jokes (unless you’re a comedy writer)
  • Run on sentences and overly long bios
  • Projects without loglines

The importance of a (good) screenwriter profile

Your screenwriting profile on Coverfly is your first—and often last—chance to make an impression with industry decision-makers. It has to shine. A bad or even just incomplete profile can derail your dreams of becoming a working screenwriter in a single glance. Studio executives and producers simply don’t have time to wade through mediocre writer profiles. If your name comes across someone’s desk, you have to stand out.

When your profile is ready to start pitching

Updating your screenwriting profile is an important step in your screenwriting career. Sometimes a great profile page can be all you need to give you the confidence—and industry visibility—to start pitching your projects, requesting coverage and feedback, and entering more contests to keep boosting your online presence.

A great way to test your shiny new profile is by entering our FREE Coverfly Pitch Week competition. This bi-annual, free, merit-based, program offers virtual pitch sessions for emerging writers. And it’s quickly become the entertainment industry’s most significant free pitch event for screenwriters.

Sign up or login into Coverfly to get alerts and notifications for the next Coverfly Pitch Week. If you create a great profile you’re already on your way to a professional screenwriting career.