It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. From about February until early this month I was essentially writing non-stop. One project I had been hired for; one project I had been asked to help create with a published author; the others were my own, which I needed to bring up to speed after getting some excellent notes.
I’ve learned a lot in these last six months, including how to pitch, to the best of my ability, my two original screenplays BIG SISTER and TILLIE. I am much more confident about the pitching process, but it is still something that dredges up fear in me. Nonetheless… if push came to shove, I could pitch my projects. Don’t underestimate the importance of being able to do so.
For me, I found a combination of using QuickTime to do either audio or video recordings, plus Smart Countdown Timer (an Apple app) were just the tickets I needed to be aware of how long I was talking.
I was also fortunate that one of my peers is really good at pitching and she listened to me stumble my way through my rough versions and gave me stellar advice. She helped me condense my intro and then simply break the story into three acts. Now, I had all that, but she helped me focus on what was important. Also, my cowriter and I divided each chunk (four: intro, plus three acts) into either a six minute pitch or a five minute pitch (one project is a bit more complicated). By practicing each chunk in the allotted time (sometimes 1’15”, sometimes 1’30”), I quickly became aware of what needed to be axed.
Also, through my training, I realized the value of naming only three characters (sometimes that’s impossible), but three seems to be as much as people can focus on. I cut any extraneous details and did my best to focus on the emotional high points of each act. The desire to explain and give vivid detail is overpowering, but I had to scale back.
Next I want to get my elevator pitches down. I do have my loglines down, but I think a good 1-2 minute elevator pitch is essential as well.
I do not write “big” films. I write much more intimate, dysfunctional family dramas. I do not want or need superheroes or special effects. The power in my stories comes from the interactions of the characters and how they cope (or don’t) with the situations they find themselves in.
All of my feature scripts (all four, even though I am only now pushing two) have been finalists. That alone has given me the courage to go on. But in addition to writing, one must learn how to pitch.
I practiced till I was blue in the face. But my cowriter, who is generally calmer than I, got me to slow down, cut out extra words and phrases, and just be natural. This has taken a long time, but it can be done.
I see via social media so many people questioning and criticizing themselves. Don’t. Please don’t. Write. Get the advice you need from colleagues or trusted friends or pros. Keep doing that until you’ve raised your confidence level. Every story is unique, even if it has similar elements.
Keep at it, as they say. I’ve been writing for DECADES, and I have now written four commissioned screenplays. I’m not famous or rich, but I’ve been paid and three of the four screenplays have been produced. This gives me hope for the future. I hope it gives you a bit of hope, too!