Movies are meant to be magical. They provide a sense of escapism rarely matched by other activities, and a good one can make viewers believe that just about anything is possible. When audiences reach the suspension of disbelief every screenwriter aims for, nothing else in the world exists. It would be an insult to the army of artists involved to think about the mechanics of making the movie when you’re in the moment.
Independent creators, however, are often possessed with questions even as they are captivated by a story or special effects. A bulk of the filmmaking process — particularly funding, producing and distribution — is a mystery, and very few people thoroughly understand the inner workings of Hollywood. Without connections to an exclusive circle, most creators don’t even have a clear picture of how the pitching process works or what it takes to get a studio to accept their script.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Co-founder of Babieka Films and Filmio’s Chief Production Officer, Orlando Pedregosa, who shared some expert insights into the inner workings of the pitching and script selection process within the film industry.
How does the Pitching process work?
While the process of pitching a script is “arduous and lengthy,” according to Pedregosa, preparing a script is a similarly painstaking process. Creators may be able to sit down and write a full first draft in a short period of time, but the process has only begun. At minimum, there should be four drafts, and each may take longer than the last. Some sources even say that 10 to 20 drafts is a more appropriate expectation for an outstanding project.
Somewhere in the writing process, creators are going to start thinking about where they want to pitch their script, and the pitch deck should be tailored to the intended audience. Creators need to be open to constant feedback in this stage to fully develop their approach. However, Pedregosa says, “It is very difficult to match the project to any given corporate mandate since the [production company] or distributor is constantly changing the goal posts based on insights and data they recollect from their own productions and third party productions.”
Creators must be passionate about their projects in order to endure the tedium of constant reworking, and their stamina needs to hold as they struggle to reach the ever-moving goal posts. Perhaps the most challenging part of the whole process is meeting the right person to get a project off the ground. “There are gatekeepers everywhere and then there is massive competition.” Pedregosa suggests that it makes things easier when a filmmaker has someone with a track record backing them up. “A director, an actor, a writer, a producer.”
Selling the Project
The vetting process for investors is a lengthy endeavor as well. Studios may be interested in backing fresh ideas, but they are often working with other people’s money. They need to be fairly certain a project will turn a profit before they can justify taking the risk of trying something completely unknown. Pedregosa outlined the process from a studio perspective, saying, “First, you set up the parameters of what you’re looking for as a company in terms of budget, genre and format (the selection criteria) and then you set up a committee and introduce the projects to those decision-makers.”
Creators need to be ready with as much relevant data as possible. The presentation should include the success metrics of other similar undertakings, as well as ways the new project stands out. If there is any data available about the status of the current project, that would be invaluable in helping decision-makers understand what they’re getting into. Preparation is key in this stage. Creators need to come to the pitch meeting with a budget and schedule in hand. Despite the fact that it requires an investment before tangible funding, it is extremely helpful to come into the meeting already having something shot as proof that the creator can deliver.
In addition to having a stellar script, getting through the gatekeepers to the right people and preparing an outstanding pitch deck, it doesn’t hurt to be likeable. What many new creators do not realize is that they are selling themselves just as much as they are selling their script. No matter what the industry, investors generally want to fund projects brought in by people who fit the culture and can deliver what they promise.
- Follow Up
The final piece of advice Pedregosa has for budding independent creators, is to follow up politely and keep moving. “Always say thank you and get on with it. Never give up.” It generally takes much longer to get a new project going, and filmmaking is infamous for its level of rejection. Because of the nature of the industry, Pedregosa says, “Above all you need to be resilient.”
Be Prepared to Pitch!
It can take years of hard work and hustle in order to get a project noticed. Successful creators often go through at least a dozen iterations of their script before they find their way to pitching opportunities. Competition is fierce, and most of the time creators must get through a line of gatekeepers in order to talk to anyone who can help them get their project off the ground.
Though most of the inner workings of the filmmaking industry take place inside a black box, producer Orlando Pedregosa was kind enough to shed some light on the subject for us. The biggest takeaway from our conversation is that preparation and demonstrable metrics are key to proving a concept is worth pursuing.
Creators have to be master multitaskers. They must write an irresistible script and present strong data in support of their project while being personable despite knowing that rejection is a possibility. Resilience and persistence are essential characteristics of any successful creator in the film industry today.
Filmio provides the perfect solution to some of the problems creators have in getting the attention of investors, and investors can use the metrics that are right there on the platform to see a project’s potential for success. Anyone can pitch their project on Filmio, and creators, investors and fans should sign up for early access in order to be the first to engage with this exciting new breakthrough in the filmmaking industry.