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Pitching (1 Viewer)

This may not be the right forum but here it goes...

In screenwriting they have pitching to sell the movie. My question is, do you have to have the script already written before you pitch an idea? In a book I have they mention new writers pitching ideas which are bought but then they are "fired" and a respected screenwriter is asked to write the script. So in essence they just buy your idea.

Anyone have any knowledge or links regarding this or similar things?


Senior Member
Um, you don't have to. You do have to have a good solid treatment, which is generally preferred over a screenplay. Sorry if I'm telling you what you already know but a treatment is basically a screenplay written in prose. There is a format to it but it'd not hard to get down.


You don't need to have a full script ready when pitching but for first time or limited experience writers, you should have the script done. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to submit the script with the pitch. You don't want to pitch an idea, have interest, get a request for a script then start writing the script only to realize there are some issues.

Depends where you are pitching. few studios will accept unsolicited scripts. It is possible but more often than not they come via agents and managers. In order to get a writing agent or manager you very often need complete scripts to provide as samples.

In Canada you can pitch directly to networks as a writer. You can also do so in the UK. In which case you wouldn't send in a script. Initially a short proposal will suffice. - Movie/Series outline, main characters, themes, style, etc. Thiis should be concise and to the point. It should reflect the tone of the show/movie but don't try and make it hilarious if it's a comedy or fantastical if it is a sci-fi. More steak, less sizzle. Most pitches I get are all sizzle and no steak.

The reality is the people you are pitching to will receive 10-20 pitches a month (sometimes more) If the first page doesn't tell them what it is and what it's about and why it is interesting they will rarely read more.

A sad but telling example was the first page pitch for the movie Cujo which was, Jaws with dogs. This is an extreme example and you shouldn't simplify that much but it sure does cut to the chase and tell the person you are pitching to exactly what it is.

If they have interest they will request a full bible and outlines/treatments for the movie or series. Depending on the work flow they may at this point request a first draft of script

There are no hard a fast rules but this is generally how things work.


Pitching is tricky, although I'm coming at it from the "independent filmmaker looking for funding" perspective, I'd imagine it's just as difficult for screenwriters in the studio business. You don't necessarily need the final draft of the screenplay, but you should be able to safely say you can produce a studio-worthy copy within 2 weeks. They won't jump into production after 2 weeks, it just looks good that you're that clear on the idea.

I would go in with the 12 plot points outlined, a treatment, and maybe even a scene. I say this because when a filmmaker pitches to a group of potential funders, it usually helps to have a visual, especially a rough cut of a scene. I recommend the scene being from one of the really intriguing plot points, for instance the "call to adventure" or the meeting with the mentor.

Just remember that if you haven't won over the executive within the first two sentences (some people even say one!), you aren't going to win them over. Go in with a solid opening.

Also concerning the whole "they just buy your idea" thing, that gets tricky in contract form. I recommend getting an agent if you don't already have one, because they'll be able to work something out where you get proper financial compensation, including a "Story" by-line, or even better, allow you to complete a final draft of the script and then have it revised by a studio writer.

I hope that helps, I apologize if that was a little long-winded.


Senior Member
unless you are a pro with a good track record, you'd better have a polished, professional-quality script available, before you pitch... and you most likely won't get to pitch, if you have no connections... if you intend to do one of those pitchfests, you'd better have the script ready to send out, in case you're asked for it... no one buys ideas... and no one will hire you to write a script from your idea if you're an unknown newbie...

a treatment won't help, if you pitch your concept and someone wants to read the script... you'll look a like an amateurish fool, if you don't have a completed script to back it up... sorry, but that's life and the biz in la-la-land...