CREATING & USING PITCH OUTLINES by Kathie Fong Yoneda

One of the most useful written tools a writer can rely on is a Pitch Outline for those five minute Pitch meetings at the Great American PitchFest.

Going to websites like Moviefone or IMDb can be of huge assistance.  Once you are at one of the two websites, do a “search” for a successful movie or TV series in the same genre as your project. Then click on the link to the movie’s or series’  “trailer”  and watch it.  You will notice that most trailers last roughly two or three minutes (coincidentally, about the same amount of time as a pitch) and usually contain anywhere from five to eight “highlights” of the storyline. This should give you a general idea of the plot points or character revelations that you might want to extract from your very own script for your pitch.

Some writers will compose a one-page outline of their pitch, using brief phrases to describe the highlights they wish to use in pitching their storyline.  Other writers use a similar technique, but divide up their outline into Act One, Act Two, and Act Three, making it easier for them to refer to the outline, should they become momentarily lost during the presentation of the pitch.

I strongly suggest using “key phrases” so you won’t be tempted to “read” your pitch. When you “read” your pitch, you tend to lose the personal connection you are trying to make with the agent, producer, editor, or exec.

Remember that a Pitch Outline is NOT A LEAVE-BEHIND.  This is a document for your eyes only.

Here is a sample pitch outline that could have been used for the feature film AVATAR:

AVATAR – Feature Film – Pitch Outline
6660LLOGLINE:  Assigned to infiltrate a potentially dangerous colony of aliens on a foreign moon, a paraplegic ex-Marine in avatar form, questions his mission when he is torn between obeying his orders and protecting the colony which he has come to regard as his new home.

ACT 1

  • Paraplegic Jake takes on assignment from late brother; needs money for operation.
  • Jakes meets Avatar team – Grace, Norm & Trudy; Col. Quaritch who feels Na’vi aliens are danger to earth; Parker, in charge of mining Unobtanium
  • Jake gets used to Pandora & Avatar body; almost dies but is saved by Neytiri
ACT 2
  • Jake meets other Na’vi – Neytiri’s parents, Na’vi warriors including Tsu-tey; goes through Na’vi training
  • Jake falls for Neytiri; realizes Na’vi pose no harm, but Quaritch attacks Na’vi
ACT 3
  • Grace’s life at stake; Jake & Avatar team must help Na’vi against all odds.
If you are pitching a TV series, here is a sample Pitch Outline that could have been used for the TV pilot for THE MENTALIST:
TO READ THE REST OF KATHIE’S INSIGHT ON PITCH OUTLINES, CLICK HERE.
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