Top Ten PitchFest Tips For Success!

mugAhead of the Great British PitchFest at the London Screenwriters’ Festival I thought I would share some of my own observations about pitchers who get the most success from their session.

Get there early
It’s obvious, but so many fail get there early, find themselves at the end of the queue, all of a fluster and needing the loo. When the doors open, you want to be in control and ready for to be awesome, not hurriedly scanning the names in a mild panic. Get there early.

Don’t pitch!
That’s right, don’t pitch! In my experience, most people approach this kind of meeting like they are giving an epic presentation about their amazing idea. Receiving a pitch like this can be overwhelming. Instead just tell people about your stories briefly, in the same way you would a stranger down the pub. If they bite, expand on it. If they don’t bite, move on to the next idea. It’s a conversation and not a presentation.

Be with the person you are talking with
Most pitchers forget they are talking with a person. Yes a person, not a pot of money, not a company, not an opportunity. A person. Someone who likely has heard too many pitches already and may have a headache. Read their faces and body language and be with the person. Talent is great but relationships will get you hired. Be about them and not about you. Be relaxed and not intense. Smile.

Beware the Pitching trance
‘Hi my name is XXXX and my story is about YYYY and this happens, then this happens, then this happens (breath) then this happens…’ All delivered in fast staccato voice with wide eyes and deep intensity. You are in a crazy trance! Stop! Relax, remember this is just a conversation between people.

Leave after four minutes
Don’t pitch for five minutes, pitch for four. The point of a pitch is simply to get to the next meeting – you won’t sell anything or do a deal in the pitch. You just want to get the meeting or a script request. The experienced pitchers will get the read request / invite to the meeting OR figure out it’s not a good match and move on FAST. This way they get a jump on the queue for the next five minute pitch slot ahead of everyone who stays the whole five minutes. Tactics.

Know your hit list and why
You will be handed a sheet before your pitch sessions wo you will know the name and company of who you are pitching, but add your own background research. And pitch EVERYONE, even if you don’t think they will like what you have. You can always have a chat about what they are looking for and see if you can build a relationship with no pre existing project.

Don’t waste time complaining
Some people wont like your pitch, they may not even like you, you may get an exec drop out, you may spend a long time waiting for your exec. Don’t allow any negative feelings in as they will show when you pitch. And NO-ONE wants to work with people whose glass is half empty.

Bring stuff. Leave stuff. Be remarkable.
If you can bring something that causes your exec to remember you, that’s a good thing. Of course you can bring a synopsis, artwork, showreel… but that’s not remarkable. The best one I ever heard was a Kit Kat with ‘give me a break… I will deliver’. Be remarkable.

At the end of the pitch, ask for their contact details. If they hesitate, or say, ‘I will contact you…’ they are probably letting you down lightly. We won’t give you their details post pitching, because if they don’t give them to you, it means they don’t want you to have them. Sorry. It’s just how it is.

This is NOT your only chance
Perhaps my biggest note is this. PitchFest is not your only chance. I speak to so many writers who get stressed because they feel everything is riding on this moment. It’s not. This is just one more opportunity- a highly structured and awesome opportunity, but not your only one. Create your own luck post Pitchfest and send emails and pick up the phone.

Above all, PitchFest is a chance to open up a new relationship more than it is to get a single specific project sold or opotioned.

Good luck and see you next week!

And if you liked this, I have a couple of other blogs on pitching…

Ten simple ways to make your film pitch more effective…

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
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