#9 Overcoming a screenwriter’s worst nightmare…

On Friday, Jan. 20th, I pitched my project “Tagged”, selected into the First Movie Program, to producers, directors and investors. As I sat there waiting for my name to be called (in German) I was trying to concentrate on the Pitch I had prepared and kept going over it in my head as many times as possible.

Instead of trying to cram an entire feature film into a 2 minute spill, not to mention in a foreign language, I concentrated on great ideas that were given to me by those who had read the film and packed them with my own know-hows, i.e. acting class is a bonus for such situations, and came up with a succinct 1-1.5 minute Pitch. I didn’t really want people focused on any language disadvantage that I may have, since I’ve only been learning German for the past year and a half, so I used the “less is more” tactic.  Pitching is one of those hellish experience that is hard no matter what, trying to do it in a foreign language is just pure insanity… as I bowed my head down realizing this, my name was announced.

I sprang up from my seat and made my way quickly to the small built -for -the- occasion stage in front of the room. My film is about the real life consequences of virtual tagging. So I brought visuals with me to exemplify the overall feeling of being wrongfully or embarrassingly tagged across Social Media platforms. I found out who was going to be there and joined real people’s faces with fabricated situations and showed them as if I had just stumbled upon it on the internet.  I was the only one of 10 pitches with visuals and no notes to refer back to. It could have gone totally wrong… culture clash, the risk of any Pitching situation, the misunderstanding of my interactive Pitch and/or the actual language barrier but as I closed it off with “this is my story ‘Tagged'” (in German of course) I knew that for this particular project and situation, the infamous “less is more”  had totally worked.

I felt more confident about myself in the end and no matter what the outcome of the actual pitching session will be, the experience was worth it and the pitch was memorable.

    So what I’ve learned that may help you:

  1. Think outside the box! Sometimes taking risks is exactly what your project needs to be remembered. Visuals may help enhance your pitch.
  2. Practice. Talk to people you trust, who have read your treatment or screenplay or expose. Get feedback. Listen. Apply. Practice again. Pitch it to them.
  3. Try to interact with your audience. Engaging the audience can come from simply asking them a question in the beginning of your pitch or trying to put them in the shoes of your characters with a small “Imagine yourself…” description.
  4. Have fun! This is the chance to tell people who have the power to get your project to the big screens: why your particular story should get made. Excite them and have fun and guaranteed interest will arise.

Even though pitching our projects to a group, for most of us, is a complete nightmare, don’t forget that it can also be the beginning of a dream come true.

Good Luck!

Juliana Lima Dehne – screenwriter


3 thoughts on “#9 Overcoming a screenwriter’s worst nightmare…

  1. These are all excellent suggestions, Juliana. I agree that less is often a more effective strategy. Limited time can be a blessing. Constraints, of one kind or another, can provide focus and aid creativity. Usually, a client provides a designer with constraints that they must work within (deadlines, budget, content, etc.) as part of a provided (or co-developed) brief. However, if the designer is also the client, she or he must provide the constraints that can inform a clear brief. If anything is possible, nothing is likely to get done (the “Paradox of Choice”). If the problem or opportunity is carefully and thoughtfully framed, it is easier to get started on a solution or approach. Developing useful framing and constraining devices is an interesting (and often entertaining) design activity!

  2. Thanks Mark. I do believe that much of what has been made/achieved in the creative world during the course of History (be it art or science) is the amalgamation of passion, knowledge and many many obstacles, constraints and difficulties that force us to resolve, focus and channel our original ideas into feasible and effective ones, sometimes even better ones. So I absolutely agree with you that constrains can indeed aid creativity, along with discipline, of course, which is why education, in my mind, is invaluable. It’s interesting what you said about developing useful framing and constraining devices. Do you mean even when they aren’t externally present? As a mechanism to end the “Paradox of Choice”? – Juliana

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