Sept 99: Studio Pitch Panel

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by Carl Davis

During the Studio Pitch panel attendees learned the value and application of one of the most intricate tools in Hollywood, the Pitch. Pitching is basically telling someone your idea for a movie or project. It must be done efficiently, with extreme enthusiasm to convince busy executives that you're worth their valuable time. Pitching is a task everyone from a fledgling writer to a veteran studio executive or agent must master. Good stories move the film business and everybody's got at least a hundred of them.

Panel Highlights

Kisha Imani Cameron
Executive Story Analyst, New Line Cinema

  • Hedge your bets. Pitch to several studios.

  • Only pitch if you have a screenplay and treatment available.

  • Know what the studios are buying and with whom you should make the deals.

  • If you have talent, make sure they are available when you pitch. Studios react to stars.

  • Be prepared to follow up if you have not heard from the studio in a couple of days. More than likely, they are not interested.

  • Pitch to producers. They can walk your screenplay into a studio for you.

Njerri Karago
VP Creative Development, BET Films

  • BET Films is looking for treatments - looking for material for a majority female audience.

  • Know your pitch! You must know what you are talking about or you will be tuned out quickly.

  • Make films that you are passionate about. It's a daunting process. If you don't believe in it, no one else will.

Malcolm Lee
Writer & Director, The Best Man

  • He did not sell anything until his sixth screenplay. Don't be discouraged.

  • Don't fall in love with anything you write. Be aware of its commercial aspects.

  • Distribution - if they (execs) think they can make money on it, they do it.

Chuck Wilson

  • Contacts and networking are extremely important (he met an exec at a festival that eventually purchased his film).

  • Perseverance is extremely important (both he and Malcolm were not selected for the Urbanworld Festival).

Eugene Haynes
Director of Production & Acquisitions, USA Films

  • Hollywood is an antiquated mechanism for the distribution of films. If filmmakers are not satisfied, they must create a new paradigm.

  • He asked everybody to introduce themselves to their immediate neighbors. This is the essence of the business (I met a studio exec and an Entertainment lawyer).

Nia Hill
Exec Producer of Development, Strange Fruit Films

  • Be aware of relationships and infrastructure, i.e. who deals with whom and how.

  • Your film might not be purchased, but if somebody likes your material they may hire you to write another project.

  • Be aware of costs. Research the range and scope of projects the studio or producer creates and the number of films they release.

This Panel gave a wealth of information including how to submit material. It's important to note:

  • Studios accept material from agents and attorneys only. There are many copyright issues and this way they can be sure that the author knows his rights.

  • If you do not have an agent, request a submission release form. This form releases the studio of legal responsibility and is an industry standard.


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