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Screenwriters & Filmmakers – Pitching the Cold Heart of the Banker

Screenwriters & Filmmakers – Pitching the Cold Heart of the Banker

Can a creative pitch alone get your script produced? Pitching the script is an art that is much talked about, put into college curriculums and lauded by the Pop Culture. But, there’s a big factor missing from creative pitches. It’s fundamental; but broadly ignored by key creative people.

For over 20 years I’ve been hired by Film Financiers (Studio Exec’s, Bonding Companies, etc.) to watch over their investment during the film’s production. I’ve also had more than a few independent filmmakers ask me for help in getting their film off the ground. So, I’ve been rubbing elbows with the elusive Film Financier (of one stripe or another) for some time.

Creative screenwriters, directors and filmmakers, especially when they’re new at the game of film production, conceive that the money for wonderful scripts should be found – like apples dropping from a tree. ‘Fraid not. Filmmaking is as much about the money as it is about the creative.

The person who you’re pitching may be wearing blue jeans and topsiders, but he’s still a Financier (or his immediate superior is). When pitching your script, think – I’m looking into the cold heart of a banker.

Learn to be familiar enough with the costs of your script to defend it in the language of money. Then, you’ll be able to look any Studio Exec in the eye and mean what you say in his/her language.

But, you say, I’m creative! What do I know about money, and financing, and accounting, and, and….. Take heart. It’s a heck of a lot easier than you may think.

Pitch the Script…But Don’t Forget The Money
Independent screenwriters, directors and producers are fervently connected to their scripts and can pitch them anywhere, at anytime. But can a creative pitch alone get the film made?

It’s very rare. Think about it. You’re dealing with the M word….MONEY! So, yeah, pitch your heart out. But, hey, isn’t it reasonable to learn some of the language of the person you really want to work with? To my mind, that’s the only way to be credible in the eyes of the Financiers. Remember that we’re talking about INDEPENDENT Film Financing and not about getting swept through the red carpet of the major studios.

There’s a two step process going on here:

1. Pitch the script

2. Create confidence that the film CAN be produced within defined dollar limits.

Translate Creative Ideas Into ‘Money Talk’

Being bright and creative is pretty much the norm in the film industry. But, being bright and creative, AND knowing how to translate creative ideas into ‘money talk’ elevates you way ahead of the pack.

To deliver a good pitch, have answers to these key questions about your screenplay:

– How you will achieve and produce your vision, yet still stay within a predetermined budget.

– What’s important about money in film production, and what’s not, and how to bring it up in the pitch.

– What are some of the ‘Insider’ secrets about film budgeting and reporting that YOU can use to your advantage?

– Regardless if you’re a film director/ producer/screenwriter/ crew/ film student/ etc., film budgets and cost reports have something to do with you and your goals. Be prepared to bring this topic up when you pitch your screenplay.

You get the idea. Learn to be familiar enough with the costs of your script to defend it in the language of money. Then, you’ll be able to pitch your script in a very powerful language – the language of MONEY.

Sign up for a series of seven articles – all only about 3 to 5 pages each which will give you insight into most of your ‘pitch the money’ problems, at http://www.talkfilm.biz.

Here are the article titles:

1. MAKING IT! In Film Production

2. Introduction to ‘Directing the Money’

3. Translating Ideas Into ‘Money Talk’

4. Your Participation In Above-the-Line Budgeting

5. Your Participation In Below-the-Line Budgeting

6. Your Report Card – The Internationally Recognized Cost Report

7. Presentation of the Weekly Cost Report – It’s As Important As the Dailies

(Copyright 2005)