So you wrote a movie. Congratulations. Now for the real work.

Pitching your movie or TV series to investors can be one of the most challenging and stressful moments of one’s career. How do you make your work stand out? How do you know who to pitch to? What if they say no? Fear not. We have compiled a series of useful tips to help you nail it next time you pitch a project. Good luck!

Do Your Research

If you’re trying to get funding for a horror film, don’t bring it to someone who deals exclusively with comedy. The same thing goes for taking your short, animated web series to someone who is best known for their award season drama films. Find an appropriate match, and make sure your project reflects their taste of their mandate. Tweak your project to fit in with their roster if you are close but still a little off.

Networking: No one gets plucked from obscurity

The entertainment industry is built on connections, so get out there and mingle! This could be in person, sending direct emails, or hitting up the festival circuit. Make sure you bring a business card with all of your necessary contact info. Make sure you are networking with the right people: research which festivals might show a film like yours, or which networks might show something similar to your TV series. If you’re sending an email, be direct and don’t overwhelm them with your pitch. Offer to send your script, rather than bombarding them with it right away. By networking and speaking to the right people, you’ll get even closer to making the perfect pitch: it’s all about context!

If you’re new to the festival circuit, check out SXSW, IFP Film Week, TIFF, Women in Film, Indie Horror Fest. There is also an amazing online community at Stage 32 with a plethora of resources.

Comparison References

Humans are simple creatures. We understand what we know. Make it easy by giving easy comparisons, but be reasonable. Even if you think you’ve written the next Apocalypse Now, dial it back to something a little more modest and realistic.

Check out Good in a Room for their suggestion of researching comparison films using a clever spreadsheet method.

Add Some Credibility

Adding an esteemed name to the project makes it look all the more enticing. Unfortunately that can be difficult, as most big name actors and directors will be looking for money. If this is not an option for you, source out recommendations from popular festival programmers, producers or even film composers to help boost your pitch. Above all, make sure you don’t sell yourself short. Let them know what you’ve done and don’t be afraid to boast. These relationships are built on confidence and trust. Stay anchored in self-belief.

Keep it Short and Sweet

A pitch can be anywhere from five to twenty minutes, but please don’t go over unless you are asked to. You’re meeting with people who likely have hundreds of other meetings, so make yours short, clear and exciting to leave a positive impression.

Keep Organized

Have your materials with you and make them count,. Does the world need another power point presentation followed by cue cards? No. Write a pitch document containing the essential information: a short and clear synopsis, cast, look-book, budget, director, composer, contact info, and so on. Include whatever you think is absolutely necessary to sell you and your story, minus the script. You can give it to them later when you both have more time,

Stay Cool and Don’t Be Boring

If you smell of desperation, you will be rejected. Be cool, calm and confident. They’ve already invited you in for a meeting, so chill out! You’re idea is great, and they’d be silly to pass. Take your time, speak slowly and stay relaxed. Go easy on the bullshit and heavy on the clarity. Avoid tangents or unnecessary explanations as they can distract from the story: above all, the story is what matters, and if you can sell that then you’re more than half way there.

Story, Story, Story

By the end of your pitch, everyone in the room should understand your story. The plot, the point, and why it should be made. Let’s take a moment to borrow from modern radio guru Valerie Geller. To Geller, great radio should reflect one of the following: head, heart, pocketbook or transformation. She believes that the root of human connection can be found in one of these qualities. Think of your audience as radio listeners and appeal to their inner search for connection while you deliver your pitch. Not only will it make your pitch stronger, but it will make your story come across in an exciting way.

Social Media

It is your best friend. Post updates of your production on all possible platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it. Consider sharing short clips of your project, or high quality stills. Connect your social media to your pitch materials to allow the proof to be in the digital pudding. The more engagement you have, the better your sell-ability is going to be.

Don’t Give Up

The likelihood of nailing every pitch you make is next to zero. Ask any working filmmaker you know. In the event of defeat, don’t put your head down. Keep looking up, because even one missed opportunity can lead to several new connections. If at first you don’t succeed, get your sh*t together and try it again!


About the Author

Louise Burns ~ Contributing Editor

Louise Burns is a musician, producer and writer of songs living in Vancouver BC with over two decades of experience in the music industry, making her one part jaded and one part elated. She hates brunch and loves Kylie Minogue.