Every screenwriter is hopeful that their story can be turned into a multi-million-dollar franchise. It has happened before, but this delightful miracle is as likely as winning a lottery or maybe even less; hmmm…?
However, if you are still certain and not discouraged in the slightest, the first thing you will need to do to sell your screenplay is to develop a pitch that will attract the contract and outcome you are dreaming of.
Developing a pitch is very much like developing an idea and story. It has to be engaging, entertaining, trigger the right emotions, and preferably no longer than two sentences.
The best way to practice pitching is by talking to people; anyone who will listen. Observe your listener throughout the process and look for cues: is the person excited or rather bored? Which bit isn’t working for them? Is there one aspect of the pitch that doesn’t work for everyone? This exercise will help you get better at pitching and clarify bits of your story you weren’t clear about before.
Pitching your story to others is also a perfect way of finding out, whether there is a market for your story or if something very similar was recently produced. If there is no interest in your story, or there is no market for it because something similar came out and failed in the recent past, your screenplay most likely won’t be produced.
In case of the above cases being a reality, pitching exercise will save you lots of time, money and headache. It could as well inspire you to re-write/pivot your story in a different direction.
Some screenwriters and screenwriting consultants/gurus even suggest going as far as organizing pitching parties with the intention of pitching 5–7 ideas to your guests, and the one your guests respond to the most will be the one you develop. I can’t vouch if that works; I’ve never done it myself.
But I do know that talking to others not necessarily involved in the industry can only benefit your writing and development. Time is the only commodity we cannot have more of, so wasting years of your life on a project that will never turn into a film isn’t the best use of your time.
Also, pitching out loud might help you unlock other creative outlets for your project.
For example, currently, I’m developing two multi-media projects: School Runs and Ecotopia Universe. They both started as weekly short stories. The more I wrote, the more I realized I needed another outlet to continue the projects’ growth. Now I have dedicated websites for each project, and I’m focusing on developing both projects’ blogs. Other creative outlets will follow, and, hopefully, I’ll be able to turn those stories into films at some point.
However, I didn’t wait for years before I could turn those ideas into films first. As Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maybe through pitching, talking to others and finding out from different resources what is out there, you will be able to find alternative outlets for your projects you never thought of before.
As always, stay tuned for more… and happy writing.