Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The One-Page Pitch Idea

I recently submitted a one-page pitch idea to the ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival for their Pitches Competition. After all, I'm pretty much finished the second draft of my feature and, even though I know it needs many more drafts before it's done, I'm beginning to feel ready to workshop it or pitch it or do something with it. So I thought I'd do a little research on how to write a one-page pitch idea. Sounds simple, right? Should be easy to find in my many writing books or on the internet, right? Or not so much.

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People may write about how to write a log line, or a treatment, or a summary, but no one seems to talk much about a one-page pitch. And if they do talk about it, they all seem to have different ideas. One website said that you should definitely have a comparison with other movies, like "Jaws meets The Little Mermaid" (okay, that was my random concept, I think the website had something a little less ridiculous). But another website stated that under no circumstances should you make a comparison like that. I decided to agree with the latter website. Another website said not to bother mentioning your characters by name unless there is some significance to the name(s). Whereas another site said to use the names and make it more personal (which happens to agree with what my screenwriting mentor said, so I included the names).

The one thing that most people seemed to agree on was that it should sound like the blurb on the back of a DVD cover. The author of Complications Ensue: The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog wrote that it's typically "heavier on the setup, and may entirely gloss over the finale." So that's the approach that I went with. I gave the background and the opening incident, with a glimpse of how things will unfold but keeping the details out of it.

Oh, and some sites said that you should include your logline at the top of the one-page. (And much as I hate to recommend this book for anything, one of the scant few reasons to read "Save the Cat" is to hammer out the best logline that you possibly can.) But I took my own twist on that one. Having recently reminded a fellow writer that what you want to emphasize in a sentence or a paragraph is best placed at the end, I decided to see if that might apply to a one-page pitch idea. So this is how I ended my pitch (with a little nod to Charles Dickens):
"Ultimately, things begin to fall apart, and a series of traumatic events in her present life forces Katrina to finally realize that she needs to face her past in order to have a future. This vet student who had been longing to be rescued from herself, discovers that she can be the hero of her own life."

In hind sight (or, if I'm being honest... after it was pointed out by my cousin), my tone was a little formal throughout. I tried to make it more colloquial but I realize that I didn't quite get there. But I'll keep that in mind for next time.

And I'll be sure to let you know if I win a spot in the pitching competition!

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1 part shy intellectual, 1 part edgy chick, 1 part sophisticated woman, 1 part mental patient (after all, sanity is a type of conformity)... what's your mix?