Pitching projects to decision-makers, other filmmakers, financiers, and anyone else who could help you get your project off the ground is not an easy job. It requires skills and practice, as well as determination and persistence.
There are specific formulas for pitching projects at different pitching stages. Usually, you wouldn’t just go into a meeting or meet someone at the part and straight away offer them your complete pitch. You typically start with a comparable pitch or with a logline before you move any further, and it is only if the listener asks you for more information about your project.
The best way to practise your pitching skills is in front of other people, and way before you arrive at your big meeting. Practice will help you get comfortable with your pitch, and it will also help you work out what works and what doesn’t in your formula. Personally, I like printing out my pitch to read it out loud. This exercise helps me find out where my language is a bit wobbly or where I went on for too long, trying to explain my story. I know that saying all those carefully crafted words might be scary or feel uncomfortable at first. But the more you practise, the better you get at it and the more you will be able to pick up on what works.
You need to be patient while working on your pitch and give yourself plenty of time to prepare your pitching package. It’ll take time before you come up with something that feels good enough to represent your story.
Another way to pitch projects is to make a short film or a trailer (sometimes filmmakers make feature films that are part of the Universe they try to create) that represents your story or idea.
However, if you don’t have any visuals, your pitch will be your calling card for attracting decision-makers. That’s why your pitching strategy needs to be strong and able to convey what your story is about. You only get one chance to pitch someone, so make sure you put enough time and attention towards your pitch.
Revisiting your pitching package now and then is also a good idea. You may want to update your pitch with new information or with new language or descriptions. If something doesn’t work or sit well in your pitch, don’t be afraid to change it by experimenting with style. After each pitching meeting or practice session make notes of how it went and what worked and what didn’t go that well. All those notes will help you improve your pitching strategy.
Personally, I would advise against pitching people at parties since parties are to socialise and meet other people, not pay attention to keen filmmakers pitching. Make a proper pitching meeting that will be devoted to you and your pitch only.