Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. – Doris Lessing

Go forth into the unknown, explore the caves of your unconscious, fear not your “dark side,” find the gold.

— Robin Hoffman (@AuthorAlchemy)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Questions They Will Ask You After the Pitch

THIS WEEK I watched a DVD called How to Pitch and Sell Your Screenplay.

The DVD was helpful in its analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of live pitches given at the New York Pitch Exchange—but, for me, it also raised more questions.

Despite my “I can do this” attitude and plan of action from my previous post (Fear of Pitching), I’m pretty darn nervous about this whole pitching thing.

Let’s say I manage to make my memorized pitch sound natural, vibrant and compelling (still workin’ on that) and someone actually calls me. After I’ve delivered the rehearsed stuff, according to Laurie Scheer from the DVD they’re likely to ask me questions I don’t have any scintillating answers for.

Who’s the market?

Anyone who enjoyed Back to the Future, Romancing the Stone and the kind of story—like Some Kind of Wonderful—that features a love triangle where the unlikely one turns out to the true love.

Will it go over like a lead balloon if I cite movie classics from so long ago?

Who do you see starring in your movie?

First time I’ve come across this. Everything else I’ve heard or read warns about trying to foist your desired cast upon weary agents, producers and directors.

In my head as I was writing I saw John Cusack in his mid-twenties and Mary Stuart Masterson in her early twenties. But I’m sure that old-fashioned answer won’t fly!

So how do I find the perfect actors to fit the roles? Watch more movies, of course . . . but it could take time to find the right actors.

Hmm, should I have entered those screenplay contests? The idea was to live my dream—but when it boils down to the marketing maybe I’m just not ready.

Why this story now? Why should we produce this?

Laurie suggests that your answer should be about how your movie
(a) reflects something in society, or
(b) has new entertainment value.
My movie does not handle any deep and meaningful societal issues or dwell on the cutting edge of special effects, super-heroes or violence. It’s simply a lot of fun and—I believe—very entertaining.

It’s the kind of make-believe world you can lose yourself in for the pleasure of putting your problems on the shelf for two hours.

How do I say this without sounding clich├ęd?

Who are you? What is your brand?

I’m used to thinking of myself as the Fear of Writing lady who enjoys helping other writers overcome their inner blocks and reignite their imaginations. This is my first screenplay and I don't have a solid idea yet for how to “brand” myself with it.

It’s a time travel romance—but even though I passionately love my story it doesn’t break down to Who I Am as a writer.

Or does it?

I enjoy fun stories full of irony but not too much violence. Does that sound too much like Screenwriter Lite?

How does your content work for other media (eg. cable, wireless)?


I have not watched TV for over 20 years. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Of course, it would be death to mention that sentiment! So how do I get around my complete ignorance on this subject?

Same goes for wireless. In fact, I’m not even sure what she means by that. Is she talking about the new media, where characters from shows are said to come to life on the Internet with their own blog or social media presence?
If you have experience with pitching (or even if you don’t!) and can shed any light on these issues, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

MILLI THORNTON is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She blogs about writing and creativity at


Sunflower Ranch said...

Milli!! One solution would be to get an agent. Let them do the pitching and most of the negotiating with the producers. These questions seem designed to do nothing but elicit a raft of anxieties! And frankly, some movie producer could care less what you think. They want the script, they will pay you what it's worth to them, you take the final negotiated price and boom, you're done! The script should stand on its own, not be dependent on the possible misstatements of the writer in an off-the-cuff interview!!

Now, the next question. How do I get an agent? LOL There are tons of agents out there. Research, I guess. And then you'll have to maybe trek the 2300 miles to Hollywood and meet them face to face. When one clicks -- BINGO!!

I do have a feeling every major city in the US has a literary agent with a movie connection and a good literary lawyer all hoping to get their cut if and only IF they like the product. That's the key. They have to like the script, then it doesn't matter what you say or say properly!

Final bit of info -- take a deep breath, calm down, and get busy on the next script! LOL :)

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Thanks for commenting on my blog! ~ Milli