How to pitch your screenplay at a film festival requires a killer story and nerves of steel. Got that? If you lack confidence or babble while you’re up on stage, the audience or panel might just hiss at you and force you to walk way through a gauntlet of shame. We’re going to prep you so that doesn’t happen by giving you a list of essential information.
- Register. With so many film festivals out there, know that some pitch festivals are free while others are not, but most do require that you register online or through mail. You’ll either pitch to a panel or pitch to an audience of writers who believe they’ve got the next big box office hit up their sleeve. Either way, it's a sweat fest.
- Bottled water. Once at the pitch festival, never underestimate the power of having bottled water on hand. Think about it. Each film festival will have at least 30-50 people or more all waiting to pitch their fabulous movie idea which means you’ll have to wait your turn as well. This can take up to an hour or two depending on the time allowance for the pitch part of the festival. The last thing you want is cotton mouth when they hand you the microphone.
- State your name and be brief. Tell them your name, don't mutter and don't go deep into where you’re from because really, no one cares if you are from Kickapoo, Kansas. Just state your name, a little bit about yourself and your writing. If you’ve set up a film company, tell them that, too for it can’t hurt to make yourself sound more professional.
- Tell them your logline slowly and succinctly. Do not go up there after they’ve handed you the microphone and say, “My story is about…” You’re a screenwriter. You should know how to write a logline. You should know how to pitch a logline. Your pitch should sound something like this: "When my protagonist gets together with his/her dynamic partner they must achieve their goal or something terrible will happen by the antagonist if they don’t succeed." You get the gist.
- Q&A. Don’t have a cow now; you see, film festivals love the questions and answers part so the audience or panel can rip your idea to shreds. Nerves of steel is what you’ll need to get through this part. Know your script inside and out. That’s key.
That’s it! You can now exhale because you’ve just pitched your screenplay at a film festival and that’s similar to auditioning for a Broadway play for a screenwriter. Hopefully, a talent agent heard your logline, loved it and will want to represent you. If not, keep at it because the opportunities to pitch your screenplay at a film festival are plentiful.