Is your original idea ready to take to market?
I have pitched my original television ideas countless times throughout my career, both successfully and unsuccessfully. At an European Broadcasting Union pitching competition in Paris, I won 15,000 euros and a development deal with CBBC (UK). At another pitching session, I gave a BBC Commissioning Editor a pair of my son’s underpants. In 2017 I conducted a biometric research study -“Pitching: A Biometrics approach” This research project aimed to evaluate responses to script pitch delivery, in an attempt to ascertain what makes a pitch succeed or fail, using psychometric testing, and I drew some fascinating conclusions. Delivering an awesome pitch is so important – you might want to win the prize money; attract a production company, or talent like an actor or a director. Perhaps you’re pitching directly to a broadcaster.
Here are my top tips to arm you will the skills to pitch to an industry professional.
- You need an opening statement that hooks your listener – suggest using your inciting incident; or a thought provoking question; perhaps a gimmick? Think hard about how you are going to draw your producer or broadcaster in?
- Make sure your premise is succinct, clear and powerful. Here is a cheat formula to help:When (inciting incident), (flawed protagonist) must (goal) or (stakes). To demonstrate, here is that formula applied to‘Finding Nemo’:When his son is kidnapped, an over protective father must find him or lose him forever.
- DETAIL IS YOUR ENEMY: Don’t describe all the characters, instead, identify the most important ones. Make sure you include their internal and external flaw, to explain how they will be challenged by their story world. It’s useful to include the main antagonist. Use short cuts to express their characters – for instance, a catchphrase, or a line of dialogue.
- DEMONSTRATE YOUR SERIES HAS A LONG RUNNING STORY ENGINE You need to nail just 4 simple story ideas which indicate your series has legs. You don’t need too much detail – just use the germ of the story idea and the twist moment or escalation for that story. That’s only two sentences per episode idea, but they have to be very IMPRESSIVE ep ideas. It’s essential that these 4 sample storylines are original and fresh.
- RESEARCH Citing research or statistics always helps give your series idea gravitas
- PASSION STATEMENT My research project confirms that this is the most effective part of the pitch – the data shows that my focus group responded most to the passion statement.What is a passion statement? This is where you tell your listener why you want to tell this story. Why is it important to you? Why are you the best person to tell this story? Why should it be on our screens now? Why is it meaningful? The more heart your can give your passion statement, the better your pitch will be. Oh, and know this part off by heart. Rule number one: never read the passion statement off your paper…
- LAST WORD What is the last thing that you want your listener to take away? What do you want them to think about later? You could use a marketing tagline here; or perhaps a parting gimmick.
- PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. You became a writer because you have something to say!Think of everyone you discuss your idea with as an audience member. Notice what resonates with them, and where they become confused.
- TAKE ACTION! 2020 is your Pitching year!Throughout the year, there will be several Pitching Events and opportunities where you will have the chance to pitch your idea and hone your pitching skills. Look out for them and even if you are shy – SIGN UP.