Welcome to the Movie Pitch Pro Guide To Pitching Your Movie To The Right People, The Right Way! This week's article is written by Special Guest Writer John Ryan.
Late into my college career, I began to hone my film studies into the craft of screenwriting. This led to the inevitability of having to create a movie pitch, and I had no clue where to even begin. Along with advice from classmates and professors, I would also do research and read literature on the subject, but I found it difficult to gather a method comprehensive enough to form a clear starting and end point. Post-graduation, resources became even more limited. Recently, I decided to investigate a new iOS application called Movie Pitch Pro. There are so many great books, articles, applications, and web-based tools that attempt to coach aspiring writers on how to sell their movie, so I was skeptical as to what makes this one so different.
Here lies Movie Pitch Pro's uniqueness. It bills itself as a research tool and asks who are the best people to pitch your movie to; it is a game changer in that it also gives you a full set of analytics to help you understand who you're pitching to, and how to pitch it to them. This sort of information is not available anywhere else in the world. In the process of becoming aware of what it actually does, I have become a Movie Pitch Pro enthusiast, despite some of its limitations.
I wanted to get right to the source, so I arranged to sit down with the creator of Movie Pitch Pro, Derek Purvis. We meet at Coffee Commissary in Beverly Hills: a boutique coffee shop very popular for Hollywood writers complete with trendy food and drink, the occasional celebrity sighting, and the Holy Grail of all L.A. establishments, free parking. I reserve a table for us in the far corner, glancing around at the eclectic mix of patrons scattered around the cafe. It isn't long before he approaches. He is shorter than expected, but only in height. They say confidence adds up to one foot in height, and this man was ten feet tall. Despite this, his big smile and friendly, joke-riddled demeanor make it nearly impossible to be intimidated. I feel like I am talking with an old friend. We exchange words, explain our backgrounds, share anecdotes. As fascinating as his stories are, I shift to the topic at hand.
Johnathan: So, tell me where did you come up with the idea for Movie Pitch Pro?
Derek: The original concept for Movie Pitch Pro was born out the fact that I am an idea guy and I am constantly coming up with these hair-brained movie ideas. I once had this thought that it would be great if I had this tool in my pocket that I could input the basic components of a movie idea and see if anyone would be interested in it. I would be sitting around a table with friends or family and an idea would strike me, and I would begin wondering if there were producers, studios, directors who may like this. This quickly evolved into more of a practical application of that idea that I would use in my film financing work. Often production teams looking to finance their films would approach me, and even though I was interested in making the film, all the Production companies, Sales Reps, and Distributors I do business with maybe had passed on it. So I wanted to figure out where else to take the project, if I really believed in it. That’s why I built the original version for myself, as a working model in Excel.
Johnathan: So this has been in the works for quite some time. How long have you been using it?
Derek: I have been using it for almost a decade.
Johnathan: It was probably prohibitive to even make an app 10 years ago, is that why you never did it?
Derek: No, I just never really thought it would be useful to anyone other than me until an executive at IM Global told me he would pay $100 per month for it. And I thought, well how many other people could this thing help if he's that enthusiastic about it?
Johnathan: Did you ever sell it to IM Global?
Derek: No, we wanted to make it accessible to everyone, so he gets it for just 5 bucks a month like the rest of us.
Johnathan: What do you mean by everyone? Certainly established directors don't need this.
Derek: Actually I think established directors may need it the most. What do you think happens when an agent shops around a script and everyone's passed? That project's going to sit on the back burner. With Movie Pitch Pro, those agents can continue to find more producers to send the script to. These days, just about everyone in town has a script they're trying to get produced: gaffers, hair & makeup, everyone. There are so many quality up-and-coming filmmakers trying to put a project together, and Movie Pitch Pro connects those people. So if you're a writer that needs a production company, or a producer looking to put together the financing, there are many ways to make use of the data available through Movie Pitch Pro's results list.
Johnathan: How are the results generated?
Derek: Well it starts with the film DNA. Users have to know what their project is about. The users have to know the fundamental components that comprise their project. We use the standard story elements in our film DNA strand. Which covers genre, sub genre, story, lead character, and target audience elements. Once this DNA is fully mapped, then we can start to understand how does it fit into the marketplace. To do that, we use an algorithm.
Johnathan: Tell us more about the algorithm.
Derek: Over the course of the last two years, we've been working on a very complex and sophisticated algorithm that analyzes over 3,500 points of data on your results list. Obviously I don't want to give away the “secret sauce,” but let's just say it's the most comprehensive data analysis in the film industry to date. We apply that algorithm to the database of films that have been made over the last three years to generate a match-meter ranking. Obviously, the higher the number, the better the match. In addition to historical data, the algorithm leans heavily on all of the trending data that occurs in real-time. So when a development executive shifts priorities from rom-coms to low-budget genre, our algorithm, the tool, and ultimately your results, will reflect that as soon as your monthly update occurs.
Johnathan: Why only three years of movies? That seems like a really small sample size.
Derek: In order for the user experience to be right and for the information that they're paying for to be worth anything, the data that they're given has to be the most current information available. The reality is, what a production company or a distributor was doing five years ago has nothing to do with what they're doing in 2015 and 2016.
Johnathan: That makes a lot of sense. So the real value of Movie Pitch Pro is getting a ranked list of people who would be interested in a user's film project.
Derek: That's of tremendous value, but actually, the most valuable aspect of MPP is all about the power of the analytics. The real point of MPP is less about getting a film financier's name and more about using the analytics to be able to make a pitch to that person in an informed way that makes sense to them. The key is to understand whom it is you're pitching to. Understanding what it is they want to make. Being informed about how they want to make films. What budget level, what market position, and target audience they're really good at accessing. So by the time you sit down to pitch somebody, you're prepared to understand any concerns or overcome any objections they may have before they even express them.
Johnathan: That's really powerful. You've had this technology all to yourself for ten years. Why are you giving away your secrets now?
Derek: I'm going to be super honest with you. I think this product is the rare example where I can make money on something that is useful to others. It really is that simple. And the film industry is way less competitive than it used to be. The demand for content is so high, there's plenty of room for all of us to make good projects. I want to be in that industry, where there's room for everyone with good creative and business ideas.
I ended up sitting with Derek for three afternoons, really getting into the nuts and bolts of the way this tool is meant to be used. And I have to say, there's a ton of value with this. The strategy they've built is well thought out yet straightforward, and illustrates a streamlined path to pitching a quality film. I know I am going to be using it from here on out!
Thank you for reading the first of a 6 article series present by Script Magazine and Movie Pitch Pro. Next week, Movie Pitch Pro Creator and Executive Producer Derek Purvis will delve into the importance of sales in a winning Film Career with Special Guest Jordan Kessler (Lee Daniels’ The Butler/Black Dahlia). Follow Movie Pitch Pro on Twitter: @MoviePitchPro.
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