Today’s guest post comes from Darren Darker, and it’s a must read for anyone with ideas for television or the silver screen!
CAMERA – ROLL – ACTION!!
My maternal grandfather was a salesman for various film studios for most of his working life, firstly with RKO, then Anglo Amalgamated and finally with Disney. It was because of him that we grew up with a fascination and love of the silver screen.
While I only started writing about five or six years ago, I have always dreamed that something I created would end up on the big screen. Of course nowadays the big money is in television but I think I could cope with seeing my characters brought to life there!
If you are writing with a view to getting it made into TV or film, don’t just try and write something that is popular at the moment. It takes a long time to get something optioned by a film company, them finding the money to make it and then to make it. New releases in the cinema today could have begun this process five or more years ago. So if you are thinking about writing a new Vampire love story just because it is a popular genre and you it could be an automatic box office smash, then stop now and don’t waste your time. Producers are looking for the next big thing – not the last.
The premier Irish film event every year is the Galway Film Fleadh. It is the one time and place that a huge amount of the country’s film and TV community is in one place at the same time and it’s a great place to network. With this year’s Galway Film Fleadh Pitch awards entry cut off fast approaching (June 6th), here are my tips (which are slightly different from pitching directly to Production Companies) for getting your creation through to the next step of the production process.
At all times you should remember that you have to sell the idea of your story to these producers, producers who probably get so much stuff across their desks that it will take something special to appeal to them.
- A title (of course) which gives the person reviewing it an immediate idea of the type of movie it is. Let’s face it you probably wouldn’t go to a romantic comedy called Predator or an action film called Love Actually would you!
- What genre does it roughly fit into? While all writers probably feel that their story is unique and either can’t or shouldn’t be classified in normal terms, producers like to know who the target audience is. So pick something – Action, Drama, Thriller etc.
- A Logline – this is a few words or at most a single sentence that sums up your entire story for the potential audience. Some of the most famous loglines are In a galaxy far far away from Star Wars, Houston, we have a problem from Apollo 13 or In space no one can hear you scream from Alien. You can see more examples of these on the front cover of the DVD’s on your shelves.
- The Pitch, which in the case of the Fleadh is a maximum of 500 words giving an over view of the start, middle and ending of your story. Try and use the limited amount of words that you have available to you as best as possible. It is from this pitch that a producer will decide if it is a good or bad idea and if he or she wants to hear more so make it stand out!
But the Pitch doesn’t need to be that long. Some of the best pitches were short and sweet. For example the pitch for Groundhog Day, which is one of my favourite all time movies, was A cranky, rude man has to relive the worst day of his life over and over again until he gets it right. When he does, he finds true love.
From attending last year’s Galway Film Fleadh pitch awards, I found that many of the writer’s pitching in the final didn’t really know or just couldn’t get across what their stories were about to the judges. You need to be clear and succinct with your material. Just give the person you are pitching to the highlights or broad strokes. You don’t need to go into too much detail as it could confuse them. At this year’s pitching awards the selected finalists are only allowed 90 seconds to dazzle the judges. It’s a bit all or nothing. Could you sell your movie idea in that time frame?
But what happens if your piece does get selected? That brings its own list of problems to be dealt with such as contracts and who gets to control and write the screenplay but you can figure that out after the champagne induced hangover subsides!
For more information on the Galway Film Fleadh and the pitching entry forms go to their website. I am pitching 2 projects so if you want to know how I got on check out www.darrendarker.ie or follow me on Twitter or Facebook!