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Episode 81 – Paid Pitches

Websites like Stage 32 and Roadmap writers offer pitches sessions where you can pay to pitch your idea to agents, managers and producers. Do they work? Are they worth it? Over the last two weeks, Alrik pitched his feature script “The Alternate” on Stage 32 and Roadmap Writers to producers and managers. We share his results with a discussion around the experience, the feedback, and we even listen to one of his actual pitches.

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Paid Pitch Sessions

During our talk with Robin Schmidt in Episode 77, we learned about his success with paid pitches. Inspired by that, Alrik decided to pitch his screenplay “The Alternate” through Stage 32 and Road Map Writers.  Alrik walks us through each of his pitches, the experience and the response.

We listen to Alrik’s actual pitch to an unnamed manager during one of his pitch session and then we break it down and touch on these questions:

  • What did the agents, managers and producers tell you?
  • What did Alrik do right and what could he have done better?
  • We read through the written feedback that Alrik’s received so far. For all of it, see below.
  • What did Alrik learn?
  • Is he planning to do it again?
  • Bottom line: Are they worth it?

Feedback on Alrik’s Pitches

Alrik did ten pitches and out of the ten pitches he got three sample requests, one regular request and one request for a treatment or outline. He received feedback from each request and here it is in order as he received it.

Stage 32 provides a score card for each pitch you do, while Roadmap Writers provides a simple pass/request with a sentence or two of notes.

PITCH #1

  • Comments: Alrik is a very good pitcher. His story is very complex, yet he walked me through it very concisely. Not sure if this piece is high concept enough, but would love to take a look as a sample.
  • Pass or Request?: Sample Request

PITCH #2

  • Comments: I feel that the point of view shift would make it difficult to get emotionally invested in the story.
  • Pass or Request?: PASS

PITCH #3

  • Comments: The pitch was a bit hard to follow and a bit all over the place. The concept doesn’t feel high concept enough or unique enough, I’m not sure exactly who the audience for something like this would be unfortunately.
  • Pass or Request?: PASS

PITCH #4

  • Scorecard (1-5, 1= worst 5 = best)
  • Pitch Delivery/Format: 4
  • Clarity of Pitch: 4
  • Set Up of Protagonist(s) & World: 4
  • Obstacles & Conflict: 3
  • Clarity of Tone: 4
  • Originality of Concept: 4
  • Strength of Voice: 4
  • Feedback: Overall, this was a clear pitch with an intriguing concept. I questioned some logistics, however. If original Jake slips in and takes the place of Alt Jake when he’s away on business—how does this not raise alarm bells in Alt Jake’s world? Wouldn’t it be obvious something was wrong to the Alt characters when Alt Chris mentions seeing him the day before, and Alt Jake is like, I’ve been away for a week what are you saying? Finally, my biggest question—what is the fallout with original Chris? Her original husband left her for the Alt universe, she left him in her universe, the Alt Jake showed up, but left her too, and now her original husband is dead. This all seems like it would be pretty devastating. The emotions and conundrums of the characters are what makes this story fascinating, so I think it would be an oversight to leave original Chris out of the story (even if it’s something as small as a blackly comedic coda at the end). Finally, I think having a more emphasis placed on the mechanics of the portal would be important. The three second delay is fine, but there should be a least one scene in the script related to Jake trying to scientific method out the logistics of the portal, so that when he dies in the end, it feels in line with the established rules of the world.
  • Pass or Request?: Request

PITCH #5

  • Comments: I’d be careful creating stories around filmmakers.  This is called inside baseball, and in general, producers, financiers, etc try to avoid that.  It sounds like this isn’t crucial to your story, so maybe it can be changed.  I’m also wondering how you’ll keep us emotionally on the hook since we start out rooting for one character and then change our hero in the last act.  The premise is interesting, but I just don’t see myself being particularly attached to any of the characters.  I do like what you said about diverse casting though.
  • Pass or Request?: Pass

PITCH #6

  • Scorecard (1-5, 1= worst 5 = best)
  • Pitch Delivery/Format: 4
  • Clarity of Pitch: 3
  • Set Up of Protagonist(s) & World: 3
  • Obstacles & Conflict: 2
  • Clarity of Tone: 1
  • Originality of Concept: 3
  • Strength of Voice: 2
  • Feedback (4-6 sentences on story & pitch): Pitch came off as a comedy not drama. While I think the concept is interesting, focus on the tone and genre of the movie being more like Safety Not Guaranteed, instead of thinking it’s a sci-fi drama. Also, unless the character is going to use his filmmaking skills as a tool in the third act to find out how to help him in life, then consider giving him a different progression. Not for me but keep pushing.
  • Pass or Request?: Pass

PITCH #7

  • Scorecard (1-5, 1= worst 5 = best)
  • Pitch Delivery/Format: 3
  • Clarity of Pitch: 2
  • Set Up of Protagonist(s) & World: 3
  • Obstacles & Conflict: 2
  • Clarity of Tone: 2
  • Originality of Concept: 2
  • Strength of Voice: 3
  • Feedback (4-6 sentences on story & pitch): The idea is interesting but the main character is not. The audience would need to have more at stake than this filmmaker and his life. Also he isn’t a very clear protagonist as the hero becomes the villain in the 3rd act which leaves us grasping to a new hero very late in the game. The wife character is underdeveloped and there should be a stronger female role within this context. This is your typical grass is greener scenario but we would need higher stakes & the whole portal dimension seems like an obvious plot device to carry out this theme.
  • Pass or Request?: Pass

PITCH #8

  • Scorecard (1-5, 1= worst 5 = best)
  • Pitch Delivery/Format – 3
  • Clarity of Pitch – 3
  • Set Up of Protagonist(s) & World – 4
  • Obstacles & Conflict – 4
  • Clarity of Tone – 3
  • Originality of Concept – 5
  • Strength of Voice – 3
  • Feedback (4-6 sentences on story & pitch): The pitch delivery was a little confusing but that is also due to the nature of this complicated story. This idea reminds of a Life 2.0 gone bad and I am intrigued. I would like to see an outline or more detailed treatment if he has one.
  • Pass or Request?: Request Outline/Detailed Treatment

PITCH #9

  • Comments: Feels like a tough one for us to set up given the more melodramatic tone as opposed to the higher concept hook but happy to read for writing and voice.
  • Pass or Request?: Sample Request

PITCH #10

  • Comments: Yeah this was a really interesting, original idea. I really liked how he twisted the story on it’s head at the end of act 2. Would love to check out a sample. (and maybe his short film Strange Thing?)
  • Pass or Request?: Sample Request

So in the end it seems like the success rate on this series of pitches was pretty high, but it’s uncertain if it will be worth it until Alrik hears back after his script has been read.

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Published inAgents and ManagersCareerFeature FilmsFilmmakingPitchingProducersScreenwriting