How to Pitch a Screenplay
How to pitch a screenplay to a movie producer and raise your chances.
I have a lot of screenwriters reach out asking me “what are you looking for in a movie project?” Surely there is a lot to unpack with that question. For starters, your idea has to be good. Secondly, your log line has to be interesting and to the point. Writing log lines is an art form. It can take a while to master paraphrasing your idea into an elevator pitch. That said, I wanted to share my own personal opinion on the process. This comes from producer’s perspective.
Big Ideas with Smaller Scope
First off, I make micro budget movies. This means that most of my films are under $100,000. That being said, I look for or the stories that can be filmed in a very small amount of time, with limited locations and cast. Ultimately, I’m looking for big ideas with smaller scope.
What do I mean by scope?
Well, scope usually is the production baggage that comes with the idea. So typically the bigger the scope, the bigger the budget. The more production you have, the bigger the headache is. If you have multiple locations, and tons of actors, that is considered “big scope”. The question you should ask yourself is, “can I tell a great idea, with less?” Think about it. You can make a movie about the end of the world, (pretty big idea, right?) with one actress in a bunker (smaller scope). The idea is massive and heavy, but the production is contained. This allows YOU as the micro-budget filmmaker to explore the big idea without having to pay for all the bling that comes with the idea. You can use news headlines, or radio broadcasts to amplify the idea, without having to leave the box!
Check out the video I did on this topic on Instagram!
You’re on the Hook
I love making films, but I have to admit, production is a huge headache from the second it starts to the second that it ends. Moreover, if you’re the responsible party, you are on the hook for a lot of things, including all that money! In the end, there’s no sure bet that you’re going to actually make money, or even your money back. This is why I am at advocate for smaller budget films.
As a producer, my first goal is to find a great idea for a movie. My second goal is to make that film look and sound as great as it can. My third goal is to make the first two goals work with as little money as possible. If you can achieve these three things, your film has a fighting chance at being a monetary and critical success. Even more importantly, creating a manageable system for your movie-making, will help you work more efficiently and long term. That goes a long way in developing a successful career.
In conclusion, if you are a first time screenwriter, think about how to write really big ideas with smaller scope. If you can do that, you may just find yourself getting optioned or your produced. If you can master that system over time, you might be able to start your own studio and finance your own films. Success in this business is a numbers game. It takes time, consistency and an unwavering dedication to perfecting your craft.
I would encourage you to think about the economics of filmmaking before you write your next script. Take time to think about the cost involved, before you write someone else’s bank balance into oblivion!
If you’re interested in discovering more tips for filmmakers, be sure to check out my books on Amazon!
What Film Schools Don’t Tell You
Interested in more tips on filmmaking? Check out one of my past blog posts here.
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