by Colleen McCreanor
On January 22, over 30 writers shuffled into a room awaiting lessons on how to pitch the stories they all had bustling inside of them. The crowd was full of a diverse set of skills, including screenwriters, novelists, and playwrights. Almost every person in the room had written something they were hoping to share with an audience, but first they needed the help of Joey Tuccio, the CEO and Founder of Roadmap Writers. He joined in via Skype and gave his two cents on what Hollywood executives want from a writer’s pitch.
Joey reinforced that Hollywood is a tough business to leap into. However, his most prominent suggestion was to sell yourself. That idea was honed in throughout the hour long conversation. With every piece of advice, Joey connected it to how pitching is “so much about you as a human being” and not just the content you present. He said that more than ever, executives want to hear why you wrote what you did. It’s important for writers to not only sell their story, but to make a connection with those listening to their ideas. As Joey mentioned, you’re more likely to sell your screenplay if the people you’re pitching to find you engaging as a person. Specifically, he said if you convince the executives that you’re someone they would like to grab coffee with, it’s more likely that they’ll want to convince their bosses to invest time in you. More or less, the largest point of his advising session was that you must be a human in your pitch or the rest of it will fall flat.
On a more technical side, Joey discussed the significance of utilizing the time you have for a pitch. If you’re able to get in the room full of executives, it’s imperative that you keep the same level of enthusiasm throughout the entire pitch. The amount of time you have will vary between executives but make sure to give equal time to all of your Acts. Joey mentioned that in pitches, he often sees a difference between Act I and Act III. Executives will take note if it seems like one of your Acts is stronger than the other. If you are enthused about your entire story, there is a higher chance that the executives will be enthused as well.
The last few points he mentioned common errors he sees in pitches. Make sure to start off the pitch by announcing the tone of the story. For example, is it a comedy or a drama? Joey stated that often times in pitches, the executives will be afraid to laugh in a comedy because the writer did not previously state if the story was meant to be funny. Another piece of advice Joey said can make or break a pitch; if the executive asks you if you have any questions, be prepared with one. It can be a question about your story or about previous work the executives have done, as long as you engage with them. After all, you are more memorable to the executives as a person.
Before the conversation started, the murmurs in the room indicated that most writers in there were nervous about the thought of pitching. However, it seemed like the mood shifted after Joey’s feedback. He answered every question the audience had and went to great lengths to make each writer in the room more confident about themselves and their abilities. After all, you can’t sell a script without also selling yourself.
Colleen McCreanor is a freshman at American University from Atlanta, Georgia. She’s one of WIFV’s extremely talented Spring 2018 interns.