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Pitching Your Script

Good in a Room: A Guide to Pitching Your Script      Email to a friend! Recommend to a friend!

Pitching Your Script By Stephanie Palmer

I'm often asked, "What's the right way to pitch an idea?" There aren't any mandatory rules. But the term, pitch , gives the mistaken impression that when the time comes for you to discuss your idea, you're supposed to suddenly start overtly selling the idea to the listener.

A pitch is not a performance. It's a conversation to discover if there's a match between what the listener is looking for and what you have to offer. If you have a meeting with a producer or studio executive to pitch one of your projects, there are important guidelines you should follow when structuring your pitch.

An effective pitch should:

  • Build rapport. The most common mistake creative people make is that they start talking about their project before they have established rapport with the producer or studio executive. Find subject matter that creates common ground during "small talk" between you and the person you're pitching to. Doing so can be a major factor in selling your project.
  • Establish a clear context for your pitch. The simplest way to provide context is to define the genre of your script or to give a brief background of the story before you begin the detailed pitch.
  • Create the experience of watching your script as a completed film. Comedy pitches should be funny and thriller pitches should have moments of surprise and suspense.
  • Provide milestones for the listener. Include a few verbal cues: "As we move into Act Two," "At the midpoint of the story," or "In the final scene."
  • Use concrete, specific language.  Great pitches use precise words to create vivid visualizations. Avoid abstract themes and generalizations.
  • Use set-ups and pay-offs to your advantage. Instead of telling the listener how everything turns out in your story, plant the seeds for the twists and surprising revelations to come.
  • Recall the beginning of the meeting as you're leaving. If you casually reference something personal that was discussed earlier, it's a very satisfying and thoughtful way to end a meeting.


Here are things to avoid in a pitch:

  • Overselling. The best meetings are conversational and interactive. Don't perform a rehearsed routine that sounds like an infomercial. If you believe in your project, your enthusiasm will shine through.
  • Using comparisons. Don't compare movies to describe your project. Avoid descriptions such as, "It's Casablanca meets The 40 Year Old Virgin." These descriptions often confuse instead of clarifying. Unless you're purposely knocking off or spoofing a produced movie, avoid using movie titles to establish the context of your original idea.
  • Describing every scene, character, or location. At the most, your verbal pitch should be broken down into twelve distinct beats or segments: three for Act I, six for Act II, and three for Act III.  Keep your description simple . If the executive wants to know more, he or she will ask.
  • Using a lot of names. Refer to only the four main characters by name.  It's hard to keep track of who's who in a pitch. Refer to the supporting characters by how they relate to the main characters.
  • Being afraid to clarify elements of your pitch. If the producer or studio executive looks confused, ask: "Could I make this clearer?" or "Do you have any questions at this point?"
  • Disagreeing with anyone in the room! Even if you hate a studio executive's ideas or suggestions, do your best to take them at face value. It's perfectly acceptable to respond to these suggestions by saying, "Let me think about that and get back to you."Stephanie Palmer

Stephanie Palmer is the founder of Good In a Room , a consulting firm that helps creative professionals present their ideas in a compelling, marketable way so they get purchased and produced. Stephanie was named one of the "Next Generation: Top 35 Executives Under 35" by The Hollywood Reporter . As Director of Creative Affairs at MGM Pictures, she acquired screenplays, books, and pitches and supervised their development. Some of her projects include: Be Cool, Legally Blonde, Sleepover , A Guy Thing, Agent Cody Banks and Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.  She is currently writing the book, Good in a Room , which will be published by Doubleday. To receive her free monthly column, go to

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How MGM Chooses A Script: An Interview With Studio Insider Stephanie Palmer



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