Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Six Questions to answer before you pitch

 Much of a production company's success depends upon their selection of projects. From day-one, a new employee is trained on the criteria for project selection. Every day, they pitch projects to their bosses and are constantly coached on whether or not they made the right choice.
 That means your pitch will be viewed through that criteria. So, the more you understand about what matters to production company executives, the better your chances of getting a favorable response..
Questions that you will need to be able to address.

1. Is the concept marketable?
    Any major production company is constantly concerned with how well their movies do at the box office. A big portion of whether a movie will succeed comes from the concept. From a studios point of view a great concept is a marketable concept.
Other factors come into play. But if the concept isn't marketable, it is very hard to justify any further action. So this is usually the first question on their minds. 

2. Will the story fit our market?
    The majority of production companies have very specific markets they work in: feature, TV movie or mini-series, animated kids TV, straight-to-DVD, etc.
In their specific market, they may specialize in one or two sub- markets.
They may also have budget restrictions inherent in the scope of their market. They're all listening to your story to see if it fits their market 

3. Does this story inspire me to spend two years making the movie?
    This is a subjective question, but as of late it has become so much more difficult to have a film produced. The producers will be saying "If I'm going to kill myself for a movie it had better be one I believe in."

4. Can I justify why I believe this project will make money?
  This relates back to marketability, Is there a reasonable 
expectation that the studio will be able to turn a profit?  With 5M to 150M of financing in a film project, you can be sure that there's going to be a lot of people justifying the decision. Here's a list of who may need to justify your project...

  • An assistant has to justify it to the producer.
  • The producer justifies it to the Studio executive.
  • The Studio executive justifies it to the Senior VP.
  • The Senior VP justifies it to the CEO.
  • The CEO may need to justify it to their Board.
That means anyone listening to your pitch is trying to figure out how they will be able to justify their decision that the studio should green light your project to the next level up. 
If they can't, they will pass on your project.

5. Can I use the project to lure talent and financing?
  This is a key question. Does this story have a part that will get some  A-list actors to sign on? Many times, a bankable actor is the primary requirement to secure financing for a movie. So those lead parts need to be attractive vehicles.

6. Am I going to get fired over this project?
    The fear of being let go for making the wrong decision is a real concern.  Especially at the major studios. Turnover is huge in the entertainment field compered to other 
corporate sectors. So a project may be more than just a financial risk for your Director of Development, it may also be to large of a career risk. 

"You're only as good as your last project," 
 So even producers worry about how a "bad project" will affect their future. 

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