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.
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.