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Old November 9th, 2009, 04:36 AM   #1
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How to pitch a movie idea

I'm not sure if this should go in the writing section or the open discussion section of the forum, so I've posted it in both. Hopefully that's allowed.

In any case, I have a movie idea that's...well...really good. So good in fact that I honestly believe that it could easily make for a blockbuster. I realize that people say this all the time, but I truly feel that my idea far surpasses anything I've seen or read about in recent times.

My question is this: if I were to write a synopsis and then pay a professional writer to rewrite it properly for me, to whom do I contact to pitch the idea? Or rather, what steps do I take in hopes of making this idea become a reality?

My apologies for clearly knowing nothing about this sort of thing. I'm a small time producer of sports based content. I know absolutely nothing about scripts and such.

Thanks again. :)
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Old November 9th, 2009, 12:21 PM   #2
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I'm not an expert in the subject but I've had friends do indy films.
There's no simple answer to this. It depends what you're expectations are. I don't there's any place in "Hollywood" where you can walk in and get "blockbuster" support without a track record.

There are past examples (not always blockbuster) to look at.
George Lucas' student short THX1138 later got funding for a a full length feature and decidedly wasn't a blockbuster but was a start to a career that resulted in blockbusters.

There's are extremely low budget films (Blair Witch Project) which certainly became big major successes.

A synopsis, no matter how great, does not a blockbuster make.
A complete script, an Executive Producer who can fundraise, sometimes having "names" attached can help. Producing a short may help. Your past history to deliver can count for a lot too. Sometimes having some success in the festival circuit can help. The result might range from more funding to a distributor for a well made low budget film.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 01:55 PM   #3
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As I pointed out in your other thread (this is actually the best place for your question) you must have an agent or no one will even read your stuff. Also, it's rare anyone will even read a treatment from an unproduced writer, as Craig very accurately points out; you need to have a real script presented by an agent. And with all due respect, I don't even have to know your idea to tell you it's been pitched and rejected countless times already.

Here are some threads which, while not exactly about your specific issue, address the realities of how projects are developed and sold.

Selling A TV Ad

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-c...roduction.html

I need some info on starting a TV ad agency

Shooting a pilot for the Travel Channel - Need portable gear

What exactly is "shooting a pilot"?

Read through all of them and then, if you're not ready to kill yourself, good luck with your project.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 04:03 PM   #4
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Nathan,

I have no experience in the areas where you need guidance and assistance but I would like to offer up my opinion regarding your post and other comments made.

First, I don't know if your idea would be a blockbuster or not. Definitely the odds are against you. It's not the writer, producer, acting talent, or movie studio that decides what will be a blockbuster. The paying public really decides. All writers, producers, actors, and studios (even the successful ones) have had bombs. Who is to say what your project would ultimately become?

And, don't be discouraged in the least by reactions such as "your idea (has) been pitched and rejected countless times already," especially when it comes from those admitting to know nothing about the details of your idea. Once in a while, totally new ideas do emerge and usually from those outside the loop who are not stymied by their paradigm.

Keep asking questions. Keep searching for a way to accomplish your goal. This forum is not the only place to get the knowledge and help you'll need. You may never turn your idea into a reality no matter how hard you try. But one thing is for sure. If you don't try, you definitely won't.

Good luck with it.

Jeff
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Old November 9th, 2009, 04:25 PM   #5
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You could go the film festival route. Most festivals have a "screenplay" division. Though your up against tough competition I'm sure and it depends on the readers imagination. Probably your best route if you lack funding, although it's still a long shot.


Jeff gave you some encouraging words, keep plugging away at it. It's been years since I was into the film circuit, but I recall the big festivals Sundance, Slamdance, South by Southwest, and Toronto, among others.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 04:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jeff Emery View Post
And, don't be discouraged in the least by reactions such as "your idea (has) been pitched and rejected countless times already," especially when it comes from those admitting to know nothing about the details of your idea. Once in a while, totally new ideas do emerge and usually from those outside the loop who are not stymied by their paradigm.
Oh, Jeff, that's just so silly and naive... of course there are no "totally new ideas." Well, maybe if you're Stephen Hawking.

As someone who's been on the other side of that desk for a portion of my career, I can tell you there are no new ideas, only new executions. And without a track record, there is no evidence he can execute. In any event, the idea is the single least important commodity in the movie business. It's all about your ability to deliver it in a new and interesting way -- old wine in a new bottle, as one of my ex-bosses used to say.

My intent isn't to be discouraging but to make sure anyone entering this path is informed about the realities of this business so they don't waste a lot of time following a strategy that is unlikely to produce returns.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 05:46 PM   #7
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I tend to side with Adam Gold on this.
Speculative material (spec script) is hard to get past the garbage can- an outline or idea, forget about it. Like scripts, everyone has them and has them terribly written.

Here's how it works:

An Agent Validates you as a prospective writer but the script SALE is what really matters.
A past film which made money (sells), Validates you as a Filmmaker.
Hollywood demands validation. That's the catch-22.

My thoughts:
Your best bet is to develop an idea with limited budget and commercial appeal. What are these ideas, you ask? Genre films: Horror, Sci-Fi and Action but executed differently, creatively and cheaply (but looking expensive).

The art house, no budget is dead.
The no budget, genre horror is alive and well (eg, Paranormal Activity).

Last week, I was at the American Film Market in Santa Monica.
Our genre film was represented by a distributor and selling to foreign markets.
It is gratifying and it wasn't easy.

At a DGA function, a director on the acceptance board asked how I expected to get in.
"You have any ideas?" I asked. "Just one. When I hear your name and about your work, you'll get a call from us."

This is in line with how most thing work in Los Angeles.
It's not who you know- it's who knows you in a positive light.
Hollywood asks you to join their party... And until your name is in the trades, its an exclusive event with a mean doorman.

Hope this helps,
-C
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Old November 9th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #8
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It's not necessary to make everyone aware of every possible pitfall, obstacle, difficultly, or adversity they may encounter on their path to realizing their dream. I've found that most times people who insist on pointing out obstacles and reasons for failure are the same people who could never attain success themselves so they try to discourage others by making sure anyone entering this path is informed about the realities of this business so they don't waste a lot of time following a strategy that is unlikely to produce returns.

Stick with it Nathan if you believe in what you are doing. Obstacles are what you see only when you lose sight of your goals.

Jeff
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Old November 9th, 2009, 08:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Emery View Post
Nathan,


First, I don't know if your idea would be a blockbuster or not. Definitely the odds are against you. It's not the writer, producer, acting talent, or movie studio that decides what will be a blockbuster. The paying public really decides.
Jeff
I would argue that the MARKETING really decides what films will be blockbusters or not. If "Paranormal Activity" hadn't been marketed the way it was, no one would have seen it, The same thing for "Blair Witch". On the flip side of that, we all know of great movies with huge budgets that just weren't marketed well, and became successful only with the DVD release, if at all.

Having said that....and not having any experience in the movie industry, but some in the music industry.....I will agree that to pitch "spec" material, you must have an agent and a track record. In the music industry, in Nashville, unsolicited material will be thrown away, sometime right in front of you. The reason for this is that music publishing houses have songwriters on staff that are constantly writing, and new artists that they are developing. Let's say they have spent a lot of money on Jolene, a new artist. They have a song (written by salaried songwriters), and have produced an album, and even a music video. Now Joe Songwriter comes along with an unsolicited song, that is very similar to the song they have already spent a lot of money on. This is coincidental, but now they may face a lawsuit if they proceed with the song as is. THAT is why unsolicited songs aren't considered, and I'll bet it works tghe same way in the movie biz.
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Old November 9th, 2009, 10:30 PM   #10
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Sorry James but if the public doesn't get behind a product and fork over the bucks for the product, all the latest, greatest, innovative marketing is wasted cash. Nothing becomes blockbuster material unless the buying public makes it so.

Marketing didn't help the Edsel. Marketing didn't help the DeLorean. Just try to find a can of "the New Coke" anywhere. Hhmmmmmmmm, Vista got a lot of marketing.

Jeff
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Old November 10th, 2009, 01:43 AM   #11
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I have no experience in the areas where you need guidance and assistance...
Exactly. But I have.

Really, Jeff, you just don't know. Unless you've spent your career working for TV Networks and movie studios in LA and NY -- and I have -- you just don't know.

And it would be a bizarre and inaccurate spin on what I said to accuse me of trying to discourage Nathan. He's guaranteed to fail if he pursues your aimless clueless strategy, while he at least stands a chance if he follows the advice from me and others here who have pointed out that if he at least writes the screenplay, he'll have a tangible product with which to show off his talents. It's called "show business" for a reason.

Do you really believe that "it's not necessary to make everyone aware of every possible pitfall, obstacle, difficultly, or adversity they may encounter on their path"? Really? You'd really rather not know where you're going or how to get there? You must be fun to go camping with. Obstacles are what you split your head open on when your eyes are closed.

And for the record -- not that I need to post my resume for you or anyone else -- I've actually written, produced and directed a feature as part of my rather bizarre career. Not a good one, mind you, but we got it finished on time and reasonably on budget. Just in case that nasty shot about people who "could never attain success themselves" was aimed at me.

My definition of success involves doing what you love, not making money -- and by that measure I'm reasonably satisfied.
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Old November 10th, 2009, 04:44 AM   #12
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Quite honestly Adam, all I've gotten from your postings here and at other sites is that no matter how knowledgeable you may be in an area where someone poses a question, you very often dilute the value of your expertise by finding a way to be condescending.

You're the kind of person who has to get the last word and to have people agree with your philosophy.

You basically imply the OP is a reject because his idea has been pitched and rejected countless times already. How could you possibly know what his idea is? You don't know. You just don't know.

You call me silly and naive. Why? Because I don't share your opinion? Because I offered the guy some encouragement?

Those are rhetorical questions. You don't need to respond... but I know you will.

I'm sure with your vast knowledge of everything hollywood, you could write a book. Why don't you? I'd certainly read it as I'm sure others would too.

fine
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Old November 10th, 2009, 06:10 AM   #13
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Verbally. To them, in a room.

Ask them to "imagine if ...." and then paint a picture with your words. Engage their minds to do the pre-visualization for you. 2 to 3 minutes max.

Andrew
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Old November 10th, 2009, 08:05 AM   #14
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Before 'Blair Witch' people were saying every kind of movie had already been made. Before Nirvana people said music was done & nothing new was out there, before 'Survivor' people felt reality TV was only for The Real World, before Google internet companies were thought of as dot bombs & could never generate revenue. Heck a guy who was in charge of US Patent's back in the 1920's or so once said "There really is not much use anymore for the patent. Everything that will ever be invented already has been." Really? So the calculator, PC, Ipod, TivO were all invented in the 1920's?? Great!

There's always exceptions to the rule, and there's always a new idea waiting out there to explode. Timing, luck & execution all play a role in it as well. Is it hard? Of course. You can't just call a director & tell them your idea & they're infatuated with it & jetset you out ot LA. But if you see your vision & can afford to put the time & effort into it, then go for it. Consider it a learning experience as well. However if you have a wife & kid, career and a mortgage depending on you, you might want to let it go.

My advice, try your best to write the script yourself. Or a rough draft, then pay someone to fix it up & better it for you. I say go the festival route. It's hard, and the odds are against you, but every now & then these things succeed, and as I said, learn from the experience as well.
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Old November 10th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #15
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I'd almost recommend NOT going to film school.

If you did, you'll end up being handed yet another set of blinkers by the academy. That is, your education will mold your mindset to their way of thinking when it comes to how things are done and what not to do. You'll be restricted in your thinking in the same way that style isn't something that you inherently have ... but is actually more a reflection of what you can't do.

Real genuine innovation always comes from the outside.

Andrew

PS. With all this, you'll still have to stick with what is effective. Common sense rules in the end.

PPS. I didn't go to film school. And I haven't made a film yet either.
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