Movie Pitching Tips

lol...But seriously... What filmmaker doesn't want to see themselves before a room of studio executives or company producers pitching a hot new movie idea?  The unprepared, boring, nervous one doesn't.   

But you won't be that filmmaker, right?!  Say what you will about the mailroom kid in the skit above but, at least, he was prepared, passionate and enthusiastic.

Pitching is part of the job for beginners and veterans alike so it's important to hone and maintain  your skills.  There are some producers and screenwriters out there whose main (and only) skill is in pitching ideas and they get paid whether or not the movie gets made.  Of course, you want to do more than just collect a check for an idea or a spec script, you want to make the movie.  But it still starts with the pitch and you have to sell it.  

Start practicing now:
  • Concise and informative information on the TEASER PITCH and the STORY PITCH 
  • What sets a film or TV pilot PITCH apart from a SYNOPSIS (according to Ken Levine)? [Aside: Although I understand, pitching as a form of job interview where execs and producers will decide if they want to work with you on a project as much as it is about selling the project, I do love Troy's point in the comments section; "Why do writers have to pitch (orally) at all?  ...Writers write.  Most aren't concurrently great at pitching - though yes, you can get better at it with practice and Ken's tips. So what's wrong with that? What's wrong is that we (Hollywood, the audience) reap what we sow: Movies and TV shows originated by great pitchers... but not necessarily great writers. Which explains alot about movies and TV. -- there's food for thought]
  • 5 Tips on pitching a movie
  • 5 MORE Tips on pitching a movie (especially a comedy movie)  [I know one of the tips here contradicts one of Ken's points about not laughing at your jokes during your pitch but I think it's a matter of how you laugh and appearing genuine as opposed to coming off like a silly and obnoxious monkey trying too hard to make 'em laugh.]
  • Transcripts of story pitches developed by Christopher and Kathleen Riley [please note, I am only posting their transcripts as reference not as an endorsement of their consultation.  Like any good producer would, please do your due diligence when seeking script consultation]: 
Plus for all you visual and auditory learners out there, here's a cross-section of some additional advice videos on how to pitch a movie and who to pitch it to.


Kickstarter Tips From People Who've Done It

If you want some Kickstarter crowdfunding help from people who have actually done it (or work there), watch the video and click this link.


The "Give-Me-$$$-and-I'll-Give-You-More-$$$$$" Scam Still Around

From THR:
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the producers allege an unfortunately familiar situation: They were promised $22 million, but they first had to put up $300,000 to make it happen.
Lucid Motion Pictures Limited is going to court against Varicorp International and an individual named Rhett Shepard.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff entered into an investment agreement last October whereby Preston Waters agreed to advance and guarantee the $22 million sum but conditioned it upon a $300,000 payment to Varicorp.
The $300,000 payment was made, but Varicorp is charged with having "failed to acquire the financial asset, set up the collateral and investment structure, or otherwise deliver on the funding for the Picture, within twenty-one banking days from the receipt of the Origination Fees as it was obligated to do under the Invoice."
The lawsuit says that in December 2011, the producers informed Varicorp of the default and demanded the $300,000 back. The producers say they never got it. Further, the lawsuit accuses Shepard of treating Varicorp's assets as his own and committing fraud, breach of contract and conversion.
 How ironic that the name of the sci-fi film in this case is Lucidity.


Can Neuroscience Help Target Your Audience Better?

One thing the creatives and the suits in the industry can agree on is that they want their movie as art and/or product to catch and hold the eyes of as wide an audience as possible for artistic and financial reasons.  To do this, they rely on their education (learning filmmaking techniques or entertainment business concepts),  their experience, various hollywood "formulas" and blockbuster concepts, merchandising tie-ins, traditional and social media marketing and non-traditional methods like leveraging piracy to create a buzz for a film.    Needless to say it's in an entertainment industry type's best interest to try whatever they can to get their stuff seen and loved.  So why not try neuroscience?

Norman Hollan discusses neuroscientist Uri Hasson's experiments to ascertain how viewers process a movie when they watch it.  

From an early experiment in 2004, Hasson's findings showed that:
...the experiment says something about film form: form has a widely shared effect on viewers, but the total aesthetic experience will vary considerably from individual to individual.
Essentially, although we might process the film similarly in the way it travels and sparks parts of our brain, we still experience it differently.  
In one of their subsequent experiments, Hasson had his subjects watch [a] Sergio Leone film and an unedited 10-minute clip of people at a concert in Washington Square, a New York park, just people milling around. The experimenters compared viewers' brains as they watched these two very different films. The clip had no editing, no camera movement, nothing of the sophisticated film techniques of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Holland's take: 
First, Hasson's group found that viewers' brain activity was "time-locked" to events on screen. That's not surprising. Our brains are designed, as all animals' brains are designed, to turn our attention to whatever is new in our environment.... 
Second, with both films, viewers' brains behaved alike in some visual and auditory areas and in a region (lateral occipital cortex) active in object recognition. As with the earlier experiment, we viewers all process the basic sounds and sights of a film (even the unedited Washgton Square film) the same way. But there was a lot more intersubject correlation with the directed and edited film. Conclusion: in order to control viewers' responses, you have to construct the film's sequence of images. 


Musicians... Have Clear Answers to the Following

Tamara Bennett's article "Mediating the Band Partnership Dispute" made me think of how best to preemptively avoid a nasty dispute.  And it begins with having clear answers in your written Band Partnership Agreement or LLC Membership Agreement to the following questions (which requires good negotiation and drafting):

Who gets to use the band name?
Who owns the master recording copyrights?
Who owns the song copyrights?
Who owns the physical product or merchandise?
Can the band keep using the leaving band member’s name and likeness?

The Privacy Scandal that is the Petraeus Scandal

The Petraeus scandal should make you worry about your privacy.  

According to the NY Times:
The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and has now entangled the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that civil libertarians have long warned about: that in policing the Web for crime, espionage and sabotage, government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans.
On the Internet, and especially in e-mails, text messages, social network postings and online photos, the work lives and personal lives of Americans are inextricably mixed. Private, personal messages are stored for years on computer servers, available to be discovered by investigators who may be looking into completely unrelated matters. 
Some choice quotes:
For privacy advocates, the case sets off alarms.

“There should be an investigation not of the personal behavior of General Petraeus and General Allen, but of what surveillance powers the F.B.I. used to look into their private lives,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview. “This is a textbook example of the blurring of lines between the private and the public.”
 Read the full article after the jump:

Will there be a new FCC Chairman soon?

Federal Communication Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski speaks at the Cable Show in Chicago, June 15, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/John Gress

During the early 2000s, the FCC was more known for it's fight on indecency in the airwaves but since President Obama came to office there has been a concerted effort to deal with more consequential issues.  Now that President Obama is back to work leading the country, I wonder whether or not Julius Genachowski will step down as chairman.  In the meantime, it's probably a good time to review what the FCC has accomplished under Mr. Genachowski's tenure.

The Genachowski Term (2009 - Nov. 2012)*

  • Unveiled the country's first National Broadband Plan. 
    On March 16, 2010, Genachowski released a National Broadband Plan, titled “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan”.  The plan sets an ambitious agenda for connecting all corners of the nation while transforming the economy and society with the communications network of the future --robust, affordable Internet.   With over 200 recommendations, the plan also lays out ways to reallocate airwaves for mobile broadband and to modernize the FCC's $9 billion per year Universal Service Fund from a program that supports phone service to a program that efficiently supports broadband.
    According to Chairman Genachowski, it is still to early to assess the success of the plan so far but the ultimate success of the plan will depend on how it advances the global leadership position of the US in terms of access, speeds and national policy initiatives.  
    The plan was released to generally positive reviews from public interest and business leaders citing the level of investment in broadband networks a major success indicator, "From 2009 to 2011, annual investment in wired and wireless networks increased approximately 30% to more than $60B, even in this challenging economy."  However, some p
    ublic interest advocates felt it could contain more extensive new regulations.  Still, for such a far-reaching stragegic plan, many of the policies have yet to be fully enacted and others require more time to assess.


What Every Producer Should Know: The Basics of Copyright

It's right here

What Every Producer Should Know: What the Players Make

Ever wondered what a studio exec, a network president, a top agent or a hotshot entertainment lawyer made a year?  Well, Gavin Polone read your mind and has answers for you.  It's good to know what kind of monetary weight your friends and foes in Hollywood can throw around.  

One set of numbers that caught my eye...

Owner-Partner (the lawyers who either founded the firm and/or have the clients who bring in the most money): $2 to $6 million per year. 
Some speculate that Skip Brittenham, of Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca et. al. may make as much as $10 million. In most cases, partners take a draw, which is really an advance against their year-end bonus, and then whack up what is left at the end of the year, after paying all office expenses and salaries. This payout is based primarily on what the individual brought in through his own clients and secondarily on the performance of the firm as a whole.
Partner with business (a lawyer who signed his own clients who pay significant sums to the firm): $750,000 to $1.5 million. 
Usually, someone in this classification is well taken care of and will either get his name on the door shortly, or leave to start his/her own firm.
Service Partner (who services the business of the above rainmakers): $500,000 to $1 million.
Lawyer with limited experience and no significant clients of his own: $160,000 to $250,000.  
In these firms, most of the lawyers are called “partner”, so those who aren’t are either promoted or moved out pretty quickly.


Don't Believe the Hype!

Kristin Thompson at Observations on Film Art assesses the  so-called Hollywood slump and finds that reports have been slightly exaggerated. 
"[A]t the end of 2011, the press was trumpeting the fact that the film industry was suffering a slump that might become permanent. After all, “the movies are in a slump!” makes for more catchy copy than “the movies have sunk back to normal” or “the movies are in a downturn from which they will probably recover.” The Hollywood Reporter went for a particularly dramatic approach to year-end coverage of the slump, as evidenced by the title/illustration (see above) of Pamela McClintock’s analysis, appearing in the January 13, 2012 print issue and online."
"McClintock cited a number of factors. Young people are no longer going to the movie theaters. The studios are too dependent on big, familiar franchise pictures: “But exhibitors worry that moviegoers are growing impatient with Hollywood’s love affair with the familiar and shortage of original ideas (hello, Avatar!). In 2011, for the first time ever, all of the 10 top-grossing films domestically were franchise titles and spinoffs.” (But wouldn’t that mean that moviegoers are more than ever thrilled with Hollywood’s franchises?) She cites also the rise in admission costs, with ticket prices going up by 5% from 2009 to 2010."
BUT, don't believe the hype... the good news is that the movie industry is NOT in a slump.
"One might conclude from all the stories about the box-office slump of 2011 that the big studios’ profits would be down, at least a little. Actually, a studio had to work hard not to see profits rise last year. That’s partly because they make things other than movies and partly because movies make a lot of money that has no direct connection with theatrical distribution."
"The February 24, 2012 issue of The Hollywood Reporter published a helpful summary, “2011 Profitability: Studio vs. Studio.” (The online version is behind a paywall.) As the authors point out, the studios calculated their profitability on different criteria, so direct comparisons among them are difficult. Nevertheless, the article shows that most studios were profitable and suggests why."
 But all is not clear on the western front because there is bad news.
"[T]he real crisis facing the film industry today is not fluctuations in box-office income. It’s how to deal with the rapidly changing post-theatrical revenue stream: the sudden proliferation of other ways to sell or rent films for viewing on the tablets, game consoles, cell phones, computers, and other devices now driving the death of tape- or disc-based home entertainment. Studios see new ways to make money and are at war with exhibitors about how short a window there would be between theatrical release and the various forms of video release." 
"The moral is, the obvious interpretation is not always the correct one. The implication of box-office fluctuations needs analysis beyond a simple comparison of ups and downs from one year to the next."
Or maybe news of a slump has the psychological effect of guilting people into going to the movies out of brand loyalty.


Hollywood Visualizations of the Statistical Kind

Information is Beautiful had a contest just in time for the Oscars on designing beautiful charts, graphs and statistics that artfully display and convey financial information, review scores and genre categorizations about recent Hollywood movies.  The results are below.  Go through each one and go down a rabbit hole where you will actually gain a real perspective on the relevance of box office numbers and the like.


11th Circuit (1) 1st Amendment (2) 2015 (2) 2016 (20) 2017 (2) 2nd Circuit (8) 4th Circuit (1) 501(c)(3) (2) 7th Circuit (1) 9th Circuit (2) A-rod (1) accident (1) accounting (11) ACLU (1) acting (5) actor (2) advertising (3) advice (59) Aereo (1) age discrimination (1) agent (6) album release (3) alert (1) AlleyWatch (1) An Actor Inquires (3) analysis (6) Ancillary territories (3) angel pad (1) angels (1) anti-discrimination (1) AP (1) Apple (1) application (1) apps (2) architecture (1) art (5) art fair (1) art law (4) artist (3) asset (2) AT&T (1) athlete (1) athletes (4) Athletic Commission (1) audience metrics (1) avatar (1) bankruptcy (1) baseball (1) basketball (4) Beastie Boys (1) blog (17) Bob Marley (1) bonds (1) bone-head move (6) box office (2) boxing (1) branding (6) breach of fiduciary duty (1) brief bits (1) broadcast radio (2) broadcast TV (6) broker (1) budget (1) business (66) Business Insider (2) business manager (2) C&C Music Factory (1) CA (5) cable television (3) calendar (1) California (2) California law (5) campaign (2) cannabis (1) cases (10) casting (1) celebrities (6) Celebrity Endorsements (1) Center for Art Law (1) CFP (1) charts (1) China (1) China Law Blog (1) Chobani (1) Chubb Rock (1) class action (4) Coca Cola (1) Comcast (1) comedy (8) comic books (2) Commerce (1) Common Law Claims (1) company (14) compliance (1) contract (33) contracts (3) copyright (51) corporations (9) Creative Commons (2) crowdfunding (5) crowdsourcing (1) Cuba (2) cybersecurity (1) damages (1) Darth Vader (1) David Bowie (1) deals (11) Debmar model (1) defamation (4) demonstrations (1) development (6) DGA (2) digital (3) director (1) directors (10) DirecTV (1) disaster (2) discrimination (1) Disney (1) distribution (15) diversity (1) Division I (1) djimlaw.com (3) DMCA (3) DNA (1) DOJ (1) DOL (1) Dominican Republic (1) donor (1) Dov Seidman (1) DPRA (1) drone (1) Drumpf (1) DTSA (1) Duke Ellington (1) DVD (4) EA (1) economic espionage (1) economics (3) EEOC (2) EFF (2) EMI (1) Empire (1) employees (13) employer (13) entertainment industry (10) entrepreneur (9) ESL (1) esports (2) EST (1) ethics (3) events (1) Exclusive Use (1) executives (5) exhibitors (3) exploitation window (2) FAA (1) facebook (4) Fair Labor Standards Act (2) fair use (6) family & friends (1) fantasy sports (2) fashion (5) FBI (1) FCC (3) feature (4) FIFA (1) film (30) filmmaker (9) filmmaking (22) finance (6) finder (1) First Amendment (1) first-look deal (1) FL (2) FLSA (1) football (2) Forbes (2) forms (2) formula (3) foundation (1) FOX (2) FOX News (1) franchise (1) Free Speech (3) free trade agreements (1) funding (7) fundraising (3) gain (1) gambling (1) genetic larceny (1) Ghostface Killah (1) Google (3) Gordon Rees (1) government (28) grants (3) graphic novels (1) gross (3) guides (1) H-1B visa (1) HBR (1) hip hop (3) HOLA (3) Hollywood (9) Huffington Post (1) Hullabaloo (1) IATSE (1) IMDB (1) immigration (1) Inc magazine (1) incentives (5) Indiegogo (1) Indiewire (2) indigenous people (1) infographic (1) Information is Beautiful (3) infringement (20) Instagram (1) insurance (1) intellectual property (39) Intellirights (1) intent to use (1) International (7) internet (2) investment (10) investors (1) IP Watchdog (1) IPO (1) IPRHFF (1) Iron Man (1) IRS (10) ItsArtLaw blog (1) iTunes (1) jdsupra (5) Jersey Shore (1) John Cones (1) journalism (1) jumpstart foundry (1) Justice Dept. (2) Kickstarter (3) Kristin Thompson (1) LA Times (1) labor (10) Lanham Act (3) Las Vegas (1) latino (3) launch (1) law (8) Law 360 (1) Law360 (1) lawsuit (21) lawyer (3) lawyers (16) legal (2) legislation (8) liability (6) libel (2) licensing (6) Likelihood of Confusion (1) litigation (42) LLC (3) madrid protocol (1) maker (1) management (2) manager (3) marketing (8) Marvel (1) media (8) mediation (1) merchandising (2) merger & acquisition (1) MLB (2) MMA (1) mobile devices (4) money (5) moral rights (1) MPAA (1) Mr. Jaar (1) MTV (1) Murdoch (1) music (25) music publishers (1) musician (6) musicians (12) NAB (1) NALIP-NY (2) Name and Likeness (1) NBA (1) NC (1) NCAA (3) negotiation (10) Netflix (3) network (4) New Line Cinema (1) New Media (2) New York (6) New York law (9) news (6) newspaper (1) NFL (3) Nikki Finke (1) NJ (1) NJ Motion Picture and TV Commission (1) NLRA (1) NLRB (1) no budget (3) non-compete (2) Nonprofit Risk Management Center (1) nonprofits (15) NY (8) NY Court of Appeals (1) NY Mag (1) NY Press (1) NY Production Alliance (1) NY Times (4) NY Yankees (1) NYC Focus (1) NYC Mayor's Office (1) NYMag (3) O visa (1) Olympics (1) online rights (2) open-source (1) OSHA (1) P visa (1) partnership (2) patent (7) patents (3) PEDs (1) photography (5) PIPA (1) piracy (2) pitching (4) plan (1) policy (3) politics (3) Power Play (2) pre-1972 (5) privacy (5) producer (2) producers (20) producing (1) production company (12) production journal (1) production resources (2) production tips (1) profit (11) progress (1) projects (8) Promaxbda (1) promotion (5) PTAB (1) public domain (3) publicity (9) publishing (4) radio (2) Rakim (1) record labels (3) recording artist (1) registration (2) regulation (2) rent (1) Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (1) residuals (1) revenues (5) Richard Prince (1) Richard Pryor (1) royalties (1) ruling (3) safety (1) SAG-AFTRA (3) sales (4) satellite (2) SBA (1) SBA loan (2) scandal (2) science (1) SCOTUS (5) Script Reader Pro (1) SDNY (3) SEC (6) securitisation (1) seed capital (2) seed money (1) settlement (1) Sirius (6) small business (15) soccer (2) social media (5) software (3) Sony (3) SOPA (1) SoundCloud (1) Spiderman (1) sports (24) sports agent (3) Sports Agent Blog (1) sports law (2) Star Wars (1) startup (13) Starz (1) statistics (1) stock (1) strategy (28) streaming (10) student-athlete (1) studios (7) Sub Pop (1) successul film (5) summary judgment (2) Supreme Court (11) Supreme Court of NY (1) susan sarandon (1) Tax credit (6) tax foundation (1) tax inversion (1) taxes (10) technology (16) ted hope (2) television (11) The Art Law Report (1) The Atlantic (1) The Baffler (1) The Business of Sports (1) The Guardian (1) The Upshot (1) Theater (1) theatre (3) theatrical exhibition (4) theatrical window (2) THR (9) Time Warner (2) TPM (1) TPP (1) trade secret (11) trademark (31) transmedia (1) Triple Crown (1) Trump (1) TTAB (2) TV (3) Twitter (1) UFC (1) unions (3) US International Trade Commission (1) USPTO (7) Variety (2) VC (2) vendor (2) venture capital (1) video (1) video game (2) Vimeo (1) visualizations (1) VOD (2) Vox (1) Walmart (1) Warner Bros. 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