How to Pitch a Movie

Posted by The Hour on July 16, 2010 2:13 PM

The Just For Laughs Comedy festival is in full swing in Montreal right now and the festival is simultaneously hosting their annual Comedy Conference where top film and television execs and insiders share the secrets to their success in a series of panels.

We'll be smuggling out some of the best advice offered up for all you comedy fans and future media moguls.

From the film bootcamp session featuring David Milner (Producer/Executive, 3Arts Entertainment),  Joe Medjuk (Executive Producer,  Montecito Picture Company) , Kirsten Smith (Writer/Producer, 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth), and Kit Giordano (Creative Executive, Red Hour Films) here are the top 5 tips for pitching your comedy movie:

1. Get paid - You could lock yourself away in a tiny garrett and live on Ramen noodles while you pen your masterpiece but a lot of writers think spec is for suckers. Pitch the idea - not the completed script- and you could actually get paid to write.

2. Pimp yourself - This is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments or experience. This is the time to convince people that you are actually capable of executing what you propose to do, so by all means toot your own horn and make them have faith in you.
3. Keep it snappy - pitch meetings with studio execs or production companies are generally  25 minutes or less.  In that time you need to communicate the theme and tone, the story arc, principle relationships, maybe a few key actors who'd be perfect for the part and some killer moments or lines. Make sure it's all killer, no filler, but still know your story and characters well so that if they ask you a question, you can elaborate with ease.

 4. Be original - Apparently The Hangover was a movie no one wanted to make for a long time. But once it was made, everyone wanted another one or some reasonable facsimile. That's just how the business is.  But what film execs are really looking for is a new idea and a new story from a unique perspective. 
5. Cry - The purpose of a pitch meeting is to make people fans of your project, so excellent storytelling is crucial. Good pitchers have been known to laugh, cry and do whatever it takes to engage the people in the room as they take them through the ups and downs of their story. If someone is a funny person, execs believe that they'll produce a funny script. So, if you haven't got the chops, consider pairing up with someone who does.

The Just for Laughs Festival and comedy conference continues through Sunday, July 18th, so if you're in Montreal you can come check it out yourself. There are Comedy Pro passes available for all you big fans.

We'll be sharing more insider secrets from the festival right here so check back soon.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the comedy industry you wanted answered, post them in the comments section below and we'll hook you up with answers.

Written by: Scott Goodyer


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