To give a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at WriteMovies and TalentScout International Management, our Director of World Wide Development Ian Kennedy is sharing a week of his Hollywood/LA Diary with us at the start of March.
Expect news of meetings at major studios and with Elite producers, screenwriters and other adventures in Hollywood, plus a string of fresh images of iconic Hollywood locations.
In the meantime, we’ve brought together two of our Elite Mentors and a former WriteMovies winner living in LA to share their L.A. industry pitching tips. Here are our Elite Mentor Bobby Lee Darby’s tips about meeting preparations and pitching tips…
MEETING PREPARATIONS, AND PITCHING TIPS
“Go into each meeting to pitch 1-2 projects in particular. Be passionate and knowledgeable about the people you’re meeting. Be positive – the industry is built on positive people talking B.S. – and avoid saying you didn’t like any movie because there’s a high chance the person you’re meeting knew someone important in it.
“Watch the productions by the people you’re meeting, and massage their egos by complimenting them, and don’t talk about movies that failed. Keep your pitches quite brief and focused on what the project is about, how you see it, and the cast you’d have in mind: 5-6 minutes is enough – show what the big concept is and why is it exciting.
“Strong female roles (and directors even) are a good call, but remember that the Margot Robbies of this world will be booked up for years ahead and very expensive – Kaya Scodelario (CRAWL) is the kind of actor who’s on the rise and sets a good level for producers to have in mind. Knowing your audience is important; CHARLIE’S ANGELS underperformed maybe due to franchise fatigue but in general you tell the same stories as before as long as you’re doing it differently.
“If you’re pitching, say “It’s a [GENRE AND THEME IN A COUPLE OF WORDS, eg ‘survival thriller’] with a [KEY CHARACTER ROLES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP] who (have to…) [EXPLAIN THE ONGOING SCENARIO, AND THE ARC THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIP GOES ON AS A RESULT].
“Producers really care about the characters in the pitching, so they can envisage the film – though they’re often focused on other things during the script notes stages later. Don’t go in with a high-brow approach or concept, keep everything in layman’s terms: nail the central characters and their relationships and journey fast. Be able to say “On page 25 this happens, that kicks us into Act 2 and really drives the story, at the midpoint they…” etc, and show the big moment of catharsis audiences will get at the end, for example “we have to accept that they are going to die, but then we get a cathartic moment when they discover a way to survive” – it’s a really good word to use explicitly. Producers and executives have all read Save the Cat (often only that!), that’s the shared reference point they use, so know it well.
“Have an understanding of budget going into meetings: under $1m is a good spot, and $5m budgets can be common. There’s no point arguing when producers tell you to cut certain action scenes to reduce the budget, because they’re the people who you need to get your movie made – instead your job is to make their bad ideas into good ones. So always see their point of view, and show it before you present any counter-arguments: “I can see why you’re asking me to put a shark in this movie, but what if it was something about why she’s afraid of going in the water?”
“You have to pick your battles carefully. You should incorporate the big notes you’re given, you can maybe get away with dropping some of the smaller crappy ones by the time of the second meeting. If you succeed in the first meeting, the next step is to provide them with a synopsis or treatment which says what is Act 1, Act 2 etc – they like really detailed treatments of 10-15 pages of snappy short paragraphs and plenty of indicative dialogue, potentially they pass this up the chain for considering budgets at that point (and maybe for getting internal signoffs to take things further).
“Alternatively of course you can give the script if it’s ready and was written on spec already. The WGA go ballistic if they hear that you’ve worked unpaid, and you should avoid doing that, so provide a maximum of one treatment before the option deal is made (you’ll probably have something in good shape already before the first meeting anyway, on spec).
“Meetings do have a low hitrate of leading to options, but you only need one person to like what you’re proposing.”
And see Part 1 of our L.A. Industry Pitching tips HERE!