If you’re attending the London Screenwriters Festival Speed Pitching and you’re not flailing in panic, it’s either because you have nerves of steel or are, in fact, an alien robot.

Condensing your beloved work of art into one or two pithy sentences and then selling it in five minutes sounds impossible and terrifying (moreso because, until about thirty seconds ago, I thought it was ten minutes. ARGH!).

Thankfully, people have done this before and SURVIVED! Some have even SOLD THINGS! The mind boggles.

How does one conquer this hill of terror?

I asked this same question before the London Comedy Writers Festival earlier this year, and Phill Barron and Laurence Timms provided excellent tips here (also in PDF).

But what about Speed Pitching specifically? How does one not die in a five minute conversation with A Really Important Person? Jared Kelly’s blog about Speed Pitching at LSWF is a Survival Handbook – and the most important (and scary) thing I gleaned from it is this: you have to pitch in sixty seconds.

But damnit, I’m wordy! I can’t order lunch in sixty seconds! How am I meant to sell a 110-page feature? That’s less than a second per page!

*breathes*

There are obvious things that you need to get out there.

1) Who are you? Do you have a name, pitcher? Sticking your business card in your pitchee’s eye probably doesn’t work here.

2) What are you pitching? Is it for TV? Is is a film? Is is a theme park and you’re in the wrong building?

3) What genre is it? Comedy? Horror? Steampunk action-adventure? And how are you going to reflect how funny/scary/geeky your project is in the rest of the pitch? Your pitch needs to be as genred as your script.

4) LOGLINE. It’s the one-sentence summary of your creation. It’s the thing cinemas publish to get you to see their film. It’s how you persuade your friends to see the film you want on a Wednesday night. It’s the DVD cover blurb.

And if you’ve never managed to persuade your mates to watch Inception instead of yet another Amy Adams rom com (my favourite’s Leap Year), it might be time to practice.

From there, you can talk about your character and your plot, their integral relationship, and how it keeps going wrong until it goes right (or everybody dies). Don’t fall into the trap of just regurgitating your plot but don’t jump around like the Energizer bunny on speed, hitting the highlights but forgetting to actually string them together so that they make sense to someone living outside your head.

Hopefully, once I’m a Speed Pitching Survivor, I’ll have more intelligent things to say on the subject. For now, this post on pitching only took me forty-five minutes to write. Things are looking up!

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