03.07.14 | Nan Foley
How many times has someone asked, “What’s your story about?” While you verbally circle the globe and not yet into the second act, your listener has lost interest. Or, you use the abbreviated version, “It’s like The English Patient, but on Mars”. Your friend then replies with a vague, “Cool.” Did he/she have a clue about your heroine’s objective or conflict? Did you interest them enough to ask how it turns out? Would you use either approach when pitching to an industry professional? If so, don’t hope they will ask to read your work.
You arrive at a Film Festival feeling confident. You’re pumped and ready to pitch your project to an industry pro. No one knows your story better than you and you’re convinced no one has a plot quite like yours. But, can you deliver the essence of your project in a 90 second pitch? Does it include what professionals look for? Going to the marketplace without a polished pitch will result in missed opportunities.
Austin Film Festival strives to give writers the skills to realize their goals. Eleven years ago, we began a Pitch Competition and it quickly became a Festival favorite, selling out every year. This success can be attributed to two factors- the caliber of industry judges and the need to hone this crucial skill.
Last year I heard many good pitches, but four of them have stayed with me. I was quickly absorbed in their stories, and, because of their ability to pitch them, I wasn’t distracted with questions on what was missing. Instead, I was engrossed as the visual rapidly unfolded in my mind. More importantly, I could also see that recognition in the judges. The clock no longer mattered, the judges were engaged with the writer and that’s when magic happened. The conversation changed.
Magnanimous with their experience, gracious with honest critique, our judges are sincere in their objective, our objective at AFF, to raise your pitch to the professional level. Ask yourself, how many chances would you have to practice your pitch to an industry professional that is on par with the decision makers that can determine your career?
Nerves are part of it, but when the key elements are there, believe in your story and yourself. Then practice as if your grandmother was listening.
The Pitch Competition sells out every year so don’t wait too long to buy your badge and pitch tickets.
See you in October!
-Nan Foley, Pitch Competition Coordinator