The Extended Pitch AKA “The Sizzler”


screenwriting

As everyone knows, I’m always advocating The One Page Pitch. That document where you grab a producer or agent’s attention for your script – make them WANT to read it. (Never send your script out without one!).

But this is not a post about one page pitches, but what I called “extended pitches”. Sometimes this is called merely a “synopsis”; other times a treatment or outline. (2013/14 UPDATE: it’s come to my attention agents and producers are asking for these more and more now, often calling them “Sizzlers”, FYI!)

The “extended pitch” is usually up to 3-5 pages, describing EVERY BEAT of the story and how it unfolds. A blow-by-blow account, if you like. The extended pitch needs to be written engagingly and interestingly (hence the idea of “sizzling”), drawing the reader INTO the world of that story, NOT reminding them “this is a movie/TV show”. It’s usually all about the story too, rather than budget, who’s attached or other filmmakery stuff.

Extended pitches are usually used at a stage where *someone* (ie. a producer) is interested in a script and wants to show it others (ie. financiers). But why is one page not good enough for this stage? Because as rare as a GOOD one page pitch is (and they are rare), it’s apparently the well-written extended pitches that separate the men from the boys (or the women from the girls), especially in terms of evaluating the central concept of a script and its structure/plot.

And it makes sense. No one throws money away on something they *half* know about, especially when we all have pre-conceptions about what is *good* and *not good*. You wouldn’t walk into a Blockbuster and say:

YOU: Hi DVD storeperson, gimme a DVD.

DVD GUY: Sure, what would you like?

YOU: Oh I dunno, give me any DVD.

DVD Guy puts a random DVD on the counter.

YOU: Oh no, I don’t like Julia Roberts, she looks like she has a coat hangar in her mouth all the time. Hit me with another one.

DVD Guy hands over another random DVD.

YOU: Oh no, I wasn’t looking for Rom-Com, how can you give me that? When I have *ever* rented a Rom-Com from you?

DVD GUY: Hey don’t take it out on me, how about *this* one??

YOU: No way Jose, that’s directed by James Cameron, don’t you know he was responsible for Sarah Connor inexplicably turning into a man for the duration of T2: Judgement Day and no fella the world over appears to notice??

DVD GUY: You know what? Pick your own DVD!

In the same way we use DVD boxes and cinema posters to decide what to watch then, producers often use one pagers to get scripts into development. But whilst we’ve all heard *that* story about ALIEN selling in three words (“Jaws In Space!”), a producer rarely gets the green light from a one page pitch alone. Instead, those other people will want to make their own evaluation on the script itself and its potential, preferably without reading the actual script itself – which makes extended pitches invaluable.

Having felt the pain of pulling an extended pitch on an all-nighter only recently, I would recommend doing these in advance. Besides anything, writing a spec extended pitch of your **finished** script can explose flaws in plot or problems with its structure you may not have seen otherwise – so even if you don’t end up using them in the long run, it’s still time well spent, regardless of where your script is destined. To sum up, I’d recommend the following in your portfolio for EVERY project:

1 x one page pitch (sales document for grabbing initial attention – either for the script itself or the concept, if said script does not exist yet)

1 x script

1 x extended pitch (blow by blow account for evaluation, 3-5 pages)

Good luck!

Find loads of pitching resources and free writing downloads HERE. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. chris ohlson says:

    used to belong to LSW until it joined up with NPA. Any cpnnection?

  2. […] THE EXTENDED PITCH by Me (on The London Screenwriters’ Festival Blog) […]