How do you know when your idea for a TV show or movie is ready to pitch?

If you're pitching a new TV Show or Movie idea and you have the concept locked, then the hard work is done right?  In terms of having your idea ready for pitching in front of TV executives or Film executives, there’s so much more to delivering a viable pitch!  Try to convince someone that a bland, tasteless meal is great… now that’s a near impossible task.  To further the culinary analogy, think about the enormous volume of pitches that TV and Movie executives hear.  Their palette becomes numb to the same old storylines with the same old hooks.  Start with a good idea that’s fresh and that your audience didn’t see coming and you're on your way to creating a great Movie or TV show pitch!

So the first step to developing a great TV or Film project pitch is developing a great idea.  You’ll find more specifics on developing your TV or movie ideas in other articles in the Creating section of the website but here are a few things you can do to always improve your project.  First, get feedback!  Talk to pier creators, screenwriters, or filmmakers.  Have friends that you discuss movies and tv shows with?  Anyone in your life who shares a passion for stories and creating ideas for TV and Film?  Ask people you know that are excited about the genre to review your idea.  Even better, get a mentor.  Find a creator that’s further along or has more experience in pitching tv show ideas, or pitching movies, and form a relationship.  Learning from someone who has had success in developing ideas and pitching is the best shortcut to success there is.

Once you’re convinced that you’ve developed the best project possible, now it’s time to develop your pitch.  Your pitch is your love letter to your idea.  It’s the presentation that distills your idea down to the pillars of your story - those elements that are so salient and fundamental that your story would crumble without them.  Once you’ve identified these key elements that drive your story forward and give your character the momentum to get from Act 1 to an ending that’s exhilarating for your audience, your job is to mold them into a pitch.  Distill, distill, distill.  Keep it basic (key elements), short and concise.  Don’t mince words.  Find the most efficient language possible to convey as much as possible in as few words as possible without sacrificing color and excitement.  No, it’s not easy to do!

You’re enthusiasm and absolute belief in the potential of the project will count for a lot as well.  Your passion will be evident even in a written pitch.  You’ll only feel that way by focusing on the elements of your pitch that really excite you and that are key to driving your characters and ultimately your story forward.  Remember the excitement you had seeing that amazing movie or crazy and compelling new TV show?  Remember how you explained it to your friend who hadn’t seen that movie or show yet?  It’s that abbreviated, passionate, powerful urgency that you need in a pitch

Sell your story without selling - If you have to really work to sell your movie idea then it can’t stand on it’s own.  Think of your pitch as a strategic unveiling as you present the details of your project to build interest and excitement in the idea.  If you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle to find what’s interesting, special, original, fresh, exciting or otherwise relevant about your story then you need to go back and get to work.  There’s an art to the presentation but it shouldn’t require you to obfuscate, spin or otherwise cover for a lack of genuine quality in your project.  TV and Movie producers and executives are experts at sniffing out false or familiar ideas.  No amount of sizzle will make up for a bad steak.

Practice.  Start by rehearsing your pitch on your own and work up to pitching people you know.  Then ask an acquaintance who isn’t required to give you positive feedback to hear your pitch.  Can you honestly capture their attention.  Are they with you to a certain point and then you lose them?  If so where… ask them where.  Maybe it’s your story or maybe it’s your pitch.  Refine and pitch again.  Did you get to the end of your pitch and your subject was excited and stimulated?  Were they motivated to discuss your idea or did you get a brief and generic “Good Job”.  Whether Positive feedback or Negative feedback - it’s all valuable!  Learn to filter through what your audience is giving you back and use it!

You may end up pitching your movie idea to an executive in the room but also be prepared to submit your TV show ideas via video conference.  You may not live in a convenient place to pitch from.  Thanks to technology, executives more and more rely on Skype and other video chat applications.   Don't be resistant to using technology… embrace it.  One great feature of the platform is that you can use video to pitch your idea.  You can also pitch your idea virtually with a “personal video pitch”... a video of you delivering your pitch to camera in your own voice with your passion behind it.  It’s your face and your voice that can make all the difference in engaging a Producer.   When an industry executive connects with you to discuss your project, you may also find yourself pitching via an email, text or chat string or combination of all as you generate interest and move forward.  

Remember, everyone has different tastes in TV and Movies, including the buyers you hope to solicit.  So just because they didn’t bite doesn’t mean your movie or TV show pitch wasn't great.  Learn to spot the difference.  Are you losing them because the idea just isn’t the right idea at the right time for that executive or because your idea isn’t relevant in the marketplace right now.  Or is your pitch flat and you’re not conveying the critical story points that are relevant in the marketplace right now.  Learn the difference between each of these circumstances and take a good hard look at your project and your pitch to see how it measures up.  If you cook up a great idea, season and serve it right...You may just get a buyer to bite!