Pitching and Bitching
“There is no point in having sharp images when you’ve fuzzy ideas.” – Jean-Luc Godard, Director of Breathless
This week was pitching boot camp. It was excellent.
Love public speaking? Love selling yourself? Love awkward silences whilst you try to remember what the fuck your were intending to say? Love the idea you thought you knew inside out coming apart in your hands like cheap kitchen roll as you claw hopelessly at the sodden earth, crying uncontrollably and howling obscenities at the cruel gods of script development? OF COURSE YOU DO. So naturally you'll love pitching!
Here's a brilliant exercise:
1) Get 3 of your fellow screenwriters into a confined space.
2) Split off into pairs and spend 10 minutes pitching and discussing your feature.
3) Reconvene. Each person then has to pitch their partner's film. The person who is having their idea pitched cannot intervene, correct, or have a tantrum.
Things I learned from this brilliant exercise:
a) It's much easier to do a good pitch of someone else's idea than your own. They have the distance to distill down the emotional hook, and the lack of abject self-loathing to sell it like it's worth a damn.
b) Focus on the emotional hook. This means character, stakes and relationships. Also, encourage verbal collaboration by asking questions that will draw your audience into your story emotionally.
c) If you do get the opportunity to pitch your idea to producers, pay a Cambridge-Classics-graduate-cum-stand-up comedian to do it. He knows your story better than you and will be a lot more charming in the pitch.
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STORYTELLING FOR THE SCREEN
A blog about The Screen Arts Institute's 'Storytelling for the Screen' course, taught by Stephen May and supported by the BFI.