How Not to Embarrass Yourself During a Pitch

Tim John of Think Hollywood recently shared ten tips that he’s learned over his years of pitching to Hollywood execs. His list begins:

1. BE CONFIDENT BUT NEVER COCKY.

Never be “Too smart for the room”. But don’t be self-effacing
either. Many “El Laysians” just don’t get irony.

I once went to a meeting at Disney with a writing partner and
when we got there the main executive said “Great to meet
you. We’re looking for some funny writers” to which I replied,
self-effacingly, “Then you should meet the guys I play tennis
with, Dick Clement and Ian Lafrenais. They’re really funny.”

Not only could the man not see that I was joking, but as I left the
meeting, his assistant took me aside, handed me a business
card and whispered “If you keep having self-esteem problems,
call this number. She’s my shrink and she’s really good”!

2. NEVER GET COMPLACENT.

“Writer” is only one letter away from “Waiter.”

3. LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE.

Never pitch your entire story, just the feel of it. Act out the trailer.
And if you find public speaking tough and you choke on your
words, pretend it’s because your story is so moving. As a senior
Disney executive once said to me, “Nobody ever walked out of
a movie because it was too emotional.”

4. MAKE SURE YOU STAND OUT.

But don’t be remembered for the wrong reasons. I made the
classic mistake of taking along a prop to a series of pitches – a
human prop – a ventriloquist. It seemed liked a good idea
because the story was about a kids’ entertainer. But I’d
forgotten that whenever you show a performer an audience,
they automatically perform, even when you don’t want them
to. I’m still haunted by this guy’s puppets constantly interrupting
me during my pitch to show off funny voices, tell jokes and yes,
even sing a duet! Even more scary was the moment I gestured
for the ventriloquist to stop and he replied “Don’t blame me. It’s
them!”

5. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

Hollywood is not about making movies, it’s about marketing
movies. Even Indie producers need to know which audience will
pay to see your picture.

Read the full list at Think Hollywood.

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