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Questions, Preparations, and Company Info for Pitches

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/26/2010

Ready to pitch your digital video project to a television network or film distribution company? Learn how to prepare for the pitching, how to dress, what to know about the company, how to answer questions, and how to walk away.

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    Q & A

    The end of the pitch is going to consist of a question and answer session so you should try to anticipate most of these questions and have prepared answers. These are usually very straight forward, such as whom the project would appeal to and how you feel about specific elements. It is important to be personable, but answer broadly so that they get the feeling that your own beliefs will not negatively affect your ability to create a fair video piece. You should know ahead of time what things you would be willing to compromise on and what you are holding your ground on because it is likely that you will be asked about changing certain aspects of your project. It would be good to have some questions to ask of them once they are done. Make sure they are specific about what they are looking for and require, and make sure to look serious and take notes from their answers. A proper director and producer will really be ready to engage criticism and suggestions, even if your vision is a little different.

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    Get Dressed

    Many people think it is appropriate to wear formal attire for such a session, but this is not the clothing that is usually used in this type of boardroom. Business casual is best so as to appear professional, but not as though you are behaving artificially. They want to get a sense of who you are so try and interject a little personality into your dress. This does not mean you should sport your favorite band t-shirt, but also do not go out and rent a tuxedo.

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    Know the Company

    Along with your research regarding the personal attributes of the people you are pitching to, do an even more thorough job researching the company. If it is a public corporation make sure to know all related or parent companies it is affiliated with, and any major shareholders. If other media channels are affiliated with this company, and it is a major company, make sure to know what type and what subjects they cover. This is going to be important because larger companies will want you to mention possible synergy and franchise potential, and they will not want a product that will compete with any other projects they may be distributing. Smaller companies are sometimes harder because you need to know if the company is pushing some type of socio-political agenda or if they simply have a cultural niche. If so, you need to figure out several bullet points that concretely secure your project with their focus in mind. All these considerations should be interjected into the language you use when doing the opening speech, and should have the company or organization's interest at heart when you are answering their pointed questions. If it is a federally funded network like the Public Broadcasting Service, then you will have to approach it in a slightly different way. They will be looking for quality programming with a diverse appeal, but may not care as much about product synergy and mass market potential. The likelihood is that for a government funded network it is best to be politically neutral and present your project as objectively as possible. You may want to discuss the success of your project on multiple platforms including DVD distribution, online opportunities, and unusual media that you can think of.

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    When Leaving

    Make sure to thank the panel sincerely at the end of the pitch and offer to show yourself out. Try not to stay too long once it is obvious the conversation has completed, and take the initiative to walk out of the room first. If you can it is best to leave a DVD copy of some of your best digital video projects with each of the executives at this time.

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    Sit Back and Wait

    When it is up to a few people to decide whether your project lives or dies a lot is riding on the mood in that room. As long as you research and prepare as seriously as possible you will be in great shape to present your project strongly and honestly. This will not guarantee that your project will get a “green-light,” but for you it means you have put yourself in the best position to succeed.