MPii – CES – Application Instructions, Step 5
Welcome to Step 5 of the application process for the Career Excelerator for Screenwriters at MPii.
This step is Step 5 of 6, so you are almost done.
One of the most important skills for working professional screenwriters is the ability to pitch story ideas for movies or series to those other industry professionals who can advocate for the project and help move it forward into funding, production, marketing and distribution.
There are many different aspects, forms and applications of the pitching skill, all of which require a complex array of subskills, that range from identifying key salient elements, structuring the presentation, preparation and practice, presentation skills, including rapid rapport building, collaborative story creative work in the room, and effective follow-up.
Pitching is used whenever you want to get across to others your idea for a story (the concept, premise, plot and themes and/or character development, etc.), or some element of the story (a character, a scene, a dramatic or comedic bit, etc.).
In other words, it’s going to be a regular part of your job as a professional screenwriter.
For example, almost every time a working professional screenwriter gets hired to write a script, they use some form of pitching in order to make that happen. They will often be expected/required to pitch their ideas of how to approach the story, and even how they plan to execute aspects of it. In some cases, in extensive detail for the longer length pitches, usually 20-30 minutes long.
Not to worry if pitching is something you don’t have a lot of experience with yet. The Career Excelerator for Screenwriters focuses on developing this vital core skill set in a major way.
For now, let’s get a sense of where you are on that learning curve. And remember, this is less about judging your skill level–after all you probably haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to pitch at a professional level yet (since that usually takes years of practice). Those opportunities will come in this program which you are applying for, right?
Your mission is to present a 7 minute pitch for a movie or series as though to a production company or studio executive for them to back the project with you as the writer.
For a number of reasons (including helping you protect your original story ideas), DO NOT PITCH your own original story.
To clarify, the story that you pitch should not be something new that you have made up. Instead, for this exercise, use the story of a movie or series that already exists.
It could be a favorite of yours, or just something you saw recently.
Pitch it as though it’s a brand new idea that has not yet been made, but you feel should be made. To be clear, you are NOT pitching a remake, sequel, or prequel.
Instead, pretend that the existing movie or series doesn’t exist yet, and you have 7 minutes to convince a production company or studio executive into putting their career on the line, by advocating for the production company or studio they work for to risk millions of dollars to fund the development, production, marketing and distribution of that movie or series.
- As you present your pitch, you can use notes or a brief list of bullet points to help you stay on track, but DO NOT READ from a written out version. That tends to lower the quality of the presentation considerably.
- Production company and studio executives are busy, so you need to cover a lot of ground in that 7 minutes. Consider using the ‘Headline’ technique MIT professor Miro Kazakoff shares toward the end of his 20 minute presentation on the YouTube video we suggested you check out back at Step 4 to help you figure out what to include and what to leave out when presenting the story.
- Try to give a clear sense of why and how the idea is potentially engaging for audiences, and how the plot and character development will play out in ways that will be potentially satisfying to audiences. Don’t just tell us that audiences will love it, show how it will play out on screen in an engaging, compelling and ultimately satisfying manner.
- Try to make the tone, style and vibe of your presentation line up with the tone, style and vibe of the project you are pitching. Ideally, your presentation will make others experience the movie or series, both in terms of sensing or even “seeing” the movie playing out in their heads. So, for example, if you’re pitching a comedy, it would be ideal for your pitch to be playful and funny. For a horror or thriller pitch, ideally, you would give the listener chills, and well… thrills.
- We know it’s probably going to be pretty stressful (don’t worry, that’s natural and gets better with years of practice). It’s okay to be stressed, and awkward. Remember we’re not judging you.
- Select an existing movie or series. Watch it and/or check out plot summaries available online (IMDB.com and Wikipedia are common sources)
- Prepare your pitch. Video record a 7 minute version of your pitch in a reasonably quiet environment. By 7 minutes we mean 420 seconds. At 421 seconds the exec will stop listening, and in this case, literally shut your presentation off.
- Load your video up to YouTube, set the privacy settings to UNLISTED.
- Share the URL to the YouTube video with us using this FORM, where we’ll ask you a few questions about your experience with the exercise.
- Then when you SUBMIT the form, as always, look out for the instructions and LINK to the next and final step of the application.