Over the last 20+ years pitching in this industry, I have learned that most of the pitches I have had to make fall into 4 key categories. These categories are extremely distinct and should be navigated differently if you seek success. The biggest mistake I have seen filmmakers make is to treat all these situations as a formal pitch. I have cringed watching someone launch into a full fledged pitch in the middle of a cocktail hour event with champagne in one hand, pitching to an exec who was just about to accept a lifetime achievement award; I have deleted emails where filmmakers have sent me a dozen attachments to a pitch the length of Gone With the Wind; and I have consoled filmmakers who were devastated their market meeting was cut short and they didn't get out the important information to hook the sales agent on the other side. Over the years I quickly learned how to navigate each of these situations and can say, it is definitely more of an art than a science so the more practice you get, the more comfortable and skilled you will become.
Here are the 4 Different Kinds of Pitches:
1-Traditional Pitch- This would usually be to a network, streamer or production company. These are usually 15-20mins of a formal pitch and then 15 minutes for questions and further discussion, led by the studio. They are usually always by invitation and hopefully the exec has seen something such as a deck or one sheeter in advance.
2-Informal/Networking Pitch- This usually occurs in a social setting, whether it is a mixer at a film festival, an industry event, at the Starbucks in Santa Monica, etc. A major part of advancing any career is networking. Take advantage of social situations and parties where you can meet industry execs that can move your project forward. This is key. How you get their attention is totally different. Usually, it is not acceptable to do a full fledge pitch in the middle of a social event where you are more likely to turn an exec off vs. intrigue them if you don't approach this carefully.
3- Market Meetings- At markets like AFM, Cannes or MIP, you will often have a chance to meet with sales agents or distributors in their suite or booth in person. Usually, these meetings are 15 mins total and sometimes they are cut even shorter. You may or may not have their undivided attention, should be prepared for interruptions, and sometimes you may get a quick meeting on the spot and have to go right there.
4- The email Pitch- There are times you will not have the opportunity to set-up a formal meeting therefore, you must rely on an email to get their attention to get a meeting, call or more formal pitch. The length, content and tone are all key to getting this email to translate into more discussions.