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A pitch is a brief, verbal summary of your story. Like the synopsis, a pitch should focus on selling rather than telling the story. Your goal is to excite the producer about your story and inspire him to request the script.

Start with your logline, and continue with the most original and interesting aspects of your script. Give a clear picture of the beginning, middle, and end. The producer needs to understand your story, so don't be cagy. Know your story and characters inside and out, and be ready with detailed answers to any questions the producer may have. But don't give more away than he asks for. If the producer requests the script after the logline, stop talking! The pitch has done its job, so quit while you're ahead.

You may be stopped after your logline with a polite, "thanks but it's not for us," or you may be asked to continue, so practice talking about your story for two minutes, five minutes, and longer. Rehearse until you can rattle it off in a relaxed and clear manner. Pitch to family and friends and ask for feedback. Was anything confusing? Were they bored? Hone your pitch based on their comments.

Pitching is a performance requiring enthusiasm and humor. Be passionate about your story. Maintain eye contact, engage your listener, and be aware of your body language. Screenwriter/director Mary V. Dunkerly says the best advice she ever got was to reveal the inspiration for her story before going into the pitch. People love an entertaining behind-the-creative-process story. "During one pitch, I had the listener in stitches telling him about my older friend's first wedding and the Las Vegas-type nuptials she was planning, and how that inspired the story I wrote. Needless to say, he requested the script," says Dunkerly.

At the end of the meeting, don't overstay your welcome. Even if the producer isn't interested, remember you're selling yourself as much as your script, so be friendly, thank him for his time, and get out of there. Leave him with the impression that you're cool, composed, and professional, and he'll be more willing to meet with you again.



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