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08/13/2001
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"Meet, Pitch, Live!"

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday August 13th, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com

Remember that scene in "Stand By Me" where Richard Dreyfuss is writing the story we have just seen? He is alone with his manuscript working in solitude in his warm and cozy home office. He gazes out the window at playing children. Remember?

Many people see that scene, as the life of a writer. That's because they never made "Stand By Me 2: Revenge Of The Salesman." In that sequel the Dreyfuss character ventures out of his secure, cushy office to try and sell the story he has just written. Unfortunately, his introverted character is incapable of conveying his idea in an entertaining pitch and thus the story never sells. He looses the house. His wife leaves him and takes the playing children with her.

Through my travels I have picked up some great insights into pitching and meetings in general from writers, producers and directors. I have found ALL these ideas to be very useful and want to share them with you.

FOR THE MEETING:

· First, all meetings are good meetings. Period. It's always good to meet new people in the business and let them meet you.
· Listen to the person you're meeting with. Absorb what they are saying and let them talk. Have a conversation. Don't feel you have to talk the whole time.
· Be clear about whom you are and your background. 2 or 3 sentences on that subject, thought out in advance, is a good idea. In fact being able to break everything down to 2-3 sentences is a theme I often here again and again. You can elaborate when needed or requested.
· Having a five-year plan is a good idea.
· Drink an iced cappuccino before the meeting. I know someone who swears by this and he has very successful meetings. Maybe you should consult your doctor and barista first.
· Know their story. Research the people and companies you are meeting with.
· Enjoy The Meeting. You're meeting with someone that is interested in your ideas or you as a writer - this is a very good thing, so enjoy it!

FOR THE PITCH:

· When pitching, only pitch one idea at one meeting. You can request a future meeting to pitch something else and make one meeting into two. The people you are meeting with can get to know you better over multiple meetings.
· When you are pitching, don't rush. Take the time to make your pitch clear and allow for questions. Remember, they want your pitch to be a success too. They want to hear that idea which will make a great movie for them.
· One way to know your material well is to practice it again and again. Dictating your story or pitch onto a cassette is useful. You can listen to it over and over in the car or wherever. You can also see where you "check out" of the pitch and work on that area.
· Rehearse the pitch in front of a friend, associate or even the dog (if s/he is capable of constructive feedback).
· I have heard of writers who use 10-20 index cards and a bulletin board to map out their pitch as they go along.
· Be an actor. Add a bit of performance to your pitch. Let your pitching style be determined by the tone of the material itself.

Pitching can be a daunting task for some but the key to pitching and meetings in general, really, is to relax and just have fun.

c.2001pdb

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