If you need to get the right pitch for your masterpiece here is your tuning fork.
Succinct and precise, informative and intriguing, the title of this book is a perfect example of how to pitch a screenplay. It derives from the anecdotal history that the brief but punchy pitch ‘Jaws in space’ was actually the initial plug for the film that was to become Alien. Charles Harris’s book offers a detailed guide about how to pitch your own screenplay. It describes everything you need to push your story to market and, in a world where all 98 pages of your your lovingly crafted courier type-faced magnum opus manuscript is likely to go straight into the recycling bin, this is the essential guide to getting it into the hands of those producers who will read it… because they want to.
Essentially the film and television industries (even the seemingly endless reality shows) are businesses and businesses aim to make a profit, so your pitch is the essential advert to the product that you want the consumer to purchase. Charles Harris has had his own work produced on TV and film, so this tome offers the reader the benefits of his experiences. It discusses all aspects of pitching, from analysis of your screenplay, drawing out its primary themes, to the development of the proposition and identifying the essential contacts, as well as the chance encounters, opening your discussions and every aspect of the initial impetus for your perspective purchaser’s desire to know more and actually make a decision as to whether to part with the funds required for production. Harris emphasises, ‘Above all, be brief and to the point.’ Brevity is vital but a good pitch is something that does not simply materialise without a good deal of preparation and strenuous work.
Charles Harris shows how to assess your screenplay and demonstrates where, why and who to market it to (for help on writing your screenplay there are a number of great books out there, including many genre specific and media specific ones from Creative Essentials). This is vital as he helps you identify the marketplace and the people working within it as well as specifying the roles of those involved and people to engage with. In particular the approach of selling your screenplay as a feature film or a televisual concept (where the formats are evaluated in a number of ways – plugs for everything from Porridge to The Wire are discussed) with the points raised helpfully illustrated by examples that take familiar works and show them in the context of how to sell them. Also interesting is the discussion on genre and identifying means of approaching a variety of sales pitches. Then the book describes the practicalities concerning contact with producers: the letters, meetings and delivery are bought to your attention so that by the end of the book you should understand how your practice should make perfect.
Jaws in Space : Powerful Pitching for Film & TV Screenwriters is essential if you want your creative gem to go further than your computer and onto a screen. The rule is: ‘Above all, be brief and to the point.’ So, to summarise: It’s pitch perfect.