As a producer, every month I receive many submissions. Some are full screenplays, some just a pitch. One thing I recommend writers who are pitching to producers, is to keep the first pitch short and punchy. By that, I mean a well-crafted logline and perhaps a 100-150 word synopsis. If the producer is interested, he'll respond. Too many of the submissions I get are wordy and laced with 'selling' language.
By 'selling' language I mean hype. Like saying, 'Sure-fire winner', 'Will be a box office success', and 'Money-maker'. As anyone who follows the movie biz, the mantra is 'nobody knows anything'. Meaning, no one can tell which movies will succeed and which ones will fail.
Simply put, producers don't want, or appreciate, being sold before they've read the material. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it annoys most of us.
Remember, it's highly unlikely any producer is going to buy your script based solely on a logline or a short synopsis. Possible, but not realistic. Therefore, the real goal of a pitch is to get to the next step: the producer asking to read the screenplay.
That's all it is: a single-base hit. Getting past second and third bases is the challenge. And getting home is the winning move.
Most every script purchased by producers needs rewriting, so while your script should be as good as it can be, expect that changes will be made. That's why your initial pitch i.e. logline and 100-150 word synopsis has to grab the producer's attention.
More Inside Producer Tips coming in the near future. Until then, thanks for reading and feel free to leave comment.
A story has to be an emotional experience for the reader. Otherwise, the story is just plain boring. Stories must resonate, and a good story is like indelible ink, it lasts forever.
So how do you create an indelible story?
Simply put, you need a POV character through which the reader can experience the events of the story. It doesn't matter what writing style you use - first person, omniscient, or whatever. The important thing is to be sure the reader identifies with the main character.
Secondly, you need a problem for the main character to solve. A difficult problem. Through the character's efforts - sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing - the reader lives the main character's life. And that's what makes stories interesting.
Naturally, there must be a conclusion; either the character succeeds or he fails. Doesn't matter which one. It only matters that the reader experiences the steps to get to that outcome and that the reader is invested in the main character.
Stories are about people experiencing other people's lives. And, the more difficult those lives are, the more interesting for the reader.
Re my post a couple of months ago, I thought I would add some current observations following the AFM.
In talking with some top sales agents who attended the market, they say the same thing: if you are relying on a percentage of presales to finance your film you must have a package with very strong elements. These elements can include one or more of the following: attached, meaningful acting talent, an attached director who has generated recent cred, and/or a chunk of 'hard-to-get' financing.
As a rule, sales agents are not in the development business - although there are exceptions. Most are simply sales organizations. They acquire the rights to film projects with the intent to license ('sell') those distribution rights to various countries throughout the world, from which they earn commissions and other fees.
In some cases, they put up MGs ('minimum guarantees') allowing a producer to obtain loans against these contracts which are used to finance the physical production of the film. So, there is risk involved for sales companies.
Like any selling process, sales outfits need something valuable to sell. That's where packaging comes in - the assembling of elements that will interest buyers. Absent meaningful elements, as a producer, you'll have to seek alternative financing methods, such as raising private equity, setting up a crowd-funding campaign, or sourcing some other type of creative financing.
Producing is half selling and half execution. Once the financing is in place it's time to make the movie. Usually, the financing stage takes much longer than the actual production of the movie. Check out the financing history of Scorcese's 'The Irishman' if you're looking for a good example... and that's Martin Scorcese and his famous friends!
Speaking of Netflix, check out this great interview with Matt Helderman on Indie Film Hustle YouTube channel here. I'll address the streaming world in future articles, but this interview is worth watching.
Just my thoughts, which I hope are of value. I'll be posting more producing tips in the future. Feel free to comment or to shoot me a question.