The Pitch & The Notes Meeting
I want to talk about some things and you know, once you're actually working um course in television we talked about the pitch a lot, but usually an original idea nowadays and feature films is not pitch to you oh, we love that idea and they paid to write it I mean it's rare in rare but any time you're hired to write a feature screenplay in which case it's usually an adaptation or some kind of source material could be even just an idea that the producer has or magazine article winner but whatever it is, you have to pitch your take of how you would write this into a screenplay now on a pitch, by the way, pitch on originals come in to a cz well, you may need to not a formal pitch meeting, but you may need to pitch you're the one you already wrote to get someone to read it so that the idea of pitching is always there it's always there this's a performance of passion it's not I memorized it. This is exactly how I want to tell it and I'm going to do it for bait him and you spout your memoriza...
tion that's not the best way to go it's also not, um somebody speaking in a kind of a timid voice begging the listener to please like me and like my idea it is I'm going, teo, I'm in the case of if you've already written it doesn't matter pretend you have it, I'm going to write this thing and it's going to be absolutely fantastic, and I'm writing it anyway, whether you hire me or not, I'm doing it. This has to be what's going on inside, they have to feel like, wow, I want to grab that fire, I don't mean, you don't have to be yelling and running around the room, but passion I what to write this? I'm going to write, um, that being said it's conversational, let me tell you a story. Um went out to my car the other day opened up, a person fell out of it, they were bleeding in the night I called nine hundred eleven, but when they showed up, the guy was gone, and then I go back to the hotel room and he's got a gun to my head and just talking, just just tell it like you were in a bar, you know, um, we talked about the logline. Of course, I think I like sometimes starting with logline, like a newspaper article has a headline and then the first paragraph of a classic news article, I don't think they're written this way anymore was a paragraph, it told you the entire story in the second paragraph told the entire story again both a lot more detail or with details about one aspect of it and the third a lot more deep tales about another aspect of it well I mean I do hope it's that way but I think it helps to start off with something like obviously a title yeah I'd like to pitch you my script it's called untitled jim mules cop drama bomb plot irreconcilable son you start off with the title and giving the logline of what it's about and then go into it and it's not like I'm giving you a beat outline of act wanted be outlining back to its story just sort of go through a conversational you like a story but I think it helps to start off with that headline which is the logline about what it is sort of focuses them on oh this is it okay let's hear it wait talk about when you rewrite your script when you I mean when you give yourself notes when you do your own revisions without any input from anyone else you go back you got your own ideas you change things there's a different type of rewriting that's the rewriting in a professional situation where you're told what you're going to change and you have to do it and a lot of times these meetings they have creative people that do come up with possible ways to change something but it may not be the right way or they may not come up with a way it's just well, I don't know, but just do something there you've just got to do it and it's the first time it's a little bit um intimidating because it's the first time somebody else has told you that you have to alter something you wrote and it's not so much that you might disagree that happens to you it's the worst case scenario you actually get to know you don't want to dio but there's an invasion into the space you've had to yourself there's an invasion into this creative process of other people that are coming into it a stranger's and talking about your child and this is what's got to be done to your child and make it actually into something good and it's you know it takes some getting used to um when you have a notes meeting with a producer studio exec um they'll always be development people also all around so there will be many people talking in the room there'll be a lot of ideas to come up some will be clear that the producer of the studio exact they wanted that done, you know they might even be the ones that say it usually are, but they went that way then there will be all these ideas from development people um this that this that and you don't you really you think well, it must be what the producer and studio executives want but are all those ideas literally what they want? So what do you do with all that? Um when you go to rewrite after you have this meeting, what the producer and the studio executive want to see is that you dutifully incorporated every little single note no matter how bad descriptive wrong wrong they want a script, they want to take the script and show it to directors and actors they could give a hit if you exercised every little note that came up in that meeting they're not even going to remember some of them they want the script so that's your power if you just dutifully incorporated everything you have like a leprosy infected piece of diarrhea that's actually not not your writing at all it's nothing like your writing and it's worse than the first. So there's a process above absorbing what's been said of getting the feeling for the rial important changes and minor changes that fit into that and coming back and taking a breath and going at the rewrite still with you at the wheel still you it's got to be your writing it's gotta be your script so that is the most important thing about getting these notes I mentioned respect for all people because there will be development people in the meeting of various levels some higher some lower everything they all deserve your respect they're all going to be studio executives of producers here anyway so but they really do I mean regardless of what you think about everything that's been said they put a lot of time into it they've pulled all nighters on this they've really worked so and they could be your allies later down the process because they can tell you that's of news about the project as it's going along oh they're talking to someone so I mean they can become a really good friend years so don't condescend anybody in the room um practice your pitch with people over and over again if you can't practise it with uh a total layman a person is like never heard of pitch before tell him a story what do they think of it? Practice your pitch with another writer or another professional? What do they think of it? One of the things is I don't know how you feel about it, but I don't particularly like pitching it's sort of like being on the spot and I wonder if you're saying everything right and you're reading the other face and you're going god they uh I don't think they're digging this it's not particularly pleasant for me but doing it in practice is important because you start for two reasons you get used to doing you get like I can talk, I can do a pitch to somebody else. I couldn't do it, I've done it three times, and the other thing is what you'll hear back. You know, um, I have no idea what you're talk talking about. It would be a big, alarming note to get, but you'll hear things, even from the layman. I mean, everybody watches movies, so everybody's got an opinion about movies. Anyway, whether there have anything to do with this business or not, and you'll get, you know, reactions. You didn't expect that there may be things that legitimately should be addressed and should be changed about the way you tell your story. So it's, always good to do that.
Screenwriting classes often either lean too heavily on theory or simply study the technical approach to writing without a greater context for its use, as if the act of screenwriting exists in a vacuum – it does not. In The Screenwriters Toolkit with Jim Uhls, you’ll learn both the nuts and bolts of the craft, as well as its relationship to getting your work read and ultimately produced.
Jim’s sceenwriting credits include the modern classic “Fight Club” the feature-film "Jumper" the NBC television film "Semper Fi" and the SyFy miniseries "Spin" In this class, he’ll share lessons from his extensive experience writing for Hollywood and the small screen. He’ll teach you how to develop better scripts, get traction for your projects, and navigate the complex professional landscape of script development.
You’ll learn about screenwriting form and content, including:
- Vocabulary and formats
- Dialogue vs silence
- Adapting existing works for the screen
Jim will also share essential insights on developing a career in screenwriting.
- The differences between writing for television and features
- Who to work with: agents vs managers vs lawyers
- How to obtain and manage projects of various sizes and contexts
The Screenwriters Toolkit is a comprehensive examination of screenwriting form, content, craft, and traffic. You’ll learn how to adapt your content to the size, genre, and desired professional result of the script while also learning about the best on-ramps for aspiring writers.