I’ve heard thousands of pitches in my thirty years as a screenwriter. What I’ve found is that the majority of pitches were too long, unfocused and boring.
by Steve Kaire
First of all, you should pitch what your story is about, not what happens in your story. Pitching what happens in your story is a recipe for disaster. It becomes an excruciatingly painful unfolding of scenes that lack a cohesive core.
When you pitch what your story is about, your focus is sharper. Only essential details are included. Your logline becomes concentrated and condensed. You do not summarize your story from beginning to end. I’ll repeat that for emphasis. You do not tell what happens in Acts 1, 2 and 3! You are giving the premise or set up of your material. That premise should be intriguing and compelling. Pitching a unique premise draws the listener in and prompts them to ask to read the entire script. That’s what High Concept is all about.
When you pitch what your story is about, your focus is sharper.
The best practice for pitching is to pitch any movie in 1 sentence. Every film ever made can be reduced to a 1 sentence logline. If you can pitch your material in just 1 sentence, you’re forced to include only essential information and nothing extraneous. Once you can pitch your script in 1 sentence, then you can later add a few more sentences for detail, color and texture. For more practice, choose 3 films you’ve seen recently and pitch each of them in just 1 sentence.
– Steve Kaire
Steve Kaire is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold 8 projects to the major studios without representation. The last project he sold, he’s Co-Producing for Walden Media. A screenwriter for over 30 years, he holds a Masters in Dramatic Writing and has taught writing classes at the American Film Institute.
Steve was featured on the Tonight Show’s, “Pitching to America” and was voted a Star Speaker at Screenwriters Expo three years in a row. His top rated CD, “High Concept – How to Create, Pitch & Sell to Hollywood” is a best seller. You can find his website here.
Jamie Campbell is an author, screenwriter, and television addict.
Jamie is proud to be an Editor for The Story Department.
Her latest series Project Integrate is out now.
1 thought on “How to Pitch in One Sentence”
On the whole, good advice. Though compressing a rich film/screenplay into one sentence can be difficult (I know from my own experience!).
My only quibble here is that telling what the film is “about” should not be confused with describing the theme of the story or the deeper issues that it may touch on. Thematic information is NOT what execs and producers in LA want to hear in the first instance. That information can be communicated later, once their interest in the basic premise is secured.