In the professional field of video and film there is one supreme gate keeping hurdle that will decide whether or not you can proceed to the next level: The Pitch. If you are even able to secure a pitching session at a television network or film studio then you have already won a lottery of luck, but now the real work begins. Pitching can be one of the most strenuous and spontaneous things you will ever have to do, which makes preparedness even more crucial. When you are up in front of the panel you will only have a few minutes to make them believe that your project is indispensable and that you are the only person qualified to do it. To actually have the chance to make this work you have to address every possible scenario and then act accordingly.
Know the People
The first thing you must do is figure out exactly who all the main people you will be pitching to are. Find out their names and positions, and if possible find their past work experience. This will give you a better idea as to what elements they will be looking for and what their socio-political stances are. Before the meeting always send a preliminary email announcing your purposes, two to three sentences outlining the story of your video, and thanking them for their time. Though you have already been accepted this is a great thing to do a week or so ahead of time because it lets them know that you are serious and sincere. Make sure all the people that you will be pitching to are addressed individually, with their proper titles noted.
The likelihood is that those people that you will be pitching to will be doing a fair amount of research as well. Social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace may be prime locations they look for information about you, so make sure to clean off any material from your pages that you would not want them to see. If you do not want to do this then you must make sure that the pages are viewable by “friends only,” that your display picture is basic, and that you do not accept any random friend requests. If you have a criminal record you have to know ahead of time that they will know this already.
The Company Book
The most important tool of preparation you need to consider is putting together a company book. This book will lay out the goals of the “company” you have putting together the project, as well as all aspects about your upcoming production. The company could be a large production team you have acquired, or just simply yourself. It is important to declare yourself as a production company for the project so the organization you are submitting it to is able to see that you are organized and so there is a place to retain copyright licenses.
The company book should begin with a cover letter, similar to the one that you sent in the email prior to the meeting. It should again be addressed to the individuals who will be hearing your pitch, but this time should be more focused on the specifics of the story. Make sure to cover the actual story arc you will be telling, what is important about it, and why they should care. This is the first thing they are going to see in your book so make sure your language is clear and concise, and that you have proofread it thoroughly.
The next section in the company book should be an introductory page giving basic information about the company and the project. There are a variety of templates available online for this, and they may be the best route so your book continues to be organized. Make sure that it lists the company name and the company mission as the first two items on the page. The name should reflect your project somewhat, but not be too closely related to the title because you may want to use this name several times for different projects. They are going to remember your company for quite a while based on your title so make sure it is well thought out. The company mission can be less descriptive, unless you only have a certain type of film you want to make. Usually a simple “to make quality films” will be satisfactory for this section.