A short film pitch is an essential part of the filmmaking process. Whether you’re looking for financing from film grants, crowdsourcing campaigns, private investors, or studios, nailing the perfect pitch is critical for getting your short film off the ground.
Though short films have smaller budgets than feature films, a weak pitch can derail your production before it even starts.
A compelling pitch convinces your audience that you have a fascinating story to tell and the vision and capability to tell it within the runtime constraints of a short film.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key steps for developing and delivering a winning short film pitch. Follow these tips to showcase your excitement for the project while communicating the vital story, visual, and budget details. With a strategic, well-crafted pitch, you can secure the funding and support needed to bring your short film idea to life.
Step 1: Identify the Core Story and Genre
The first step is clarifying the basic narrative and genre of your short film idea. These core details will inform how you position the rest of the pitch.
Start by deciding on the major story beats and defining:
- The protagonist or main character(s)
- The central conflict or challenge they face
- The setting/world the story takes place in
- The overall visual style and tone
Really focus on nailing down the protagonist and their motivation, as this emotional core will pull the audience through the entire story.
Next, identify the specific genre and style of the short film. Some examples are:
There are also possibilities for genre hybrids or sub-genres. Properly positioning the genre gives the pitcher an immediate sense of the tone and aids their visualization. Make the style clear upfront.
Step 2: Write a Logline and Synopsis
Now you have the basic story skeleton. It’s time to begin putting on some flesh.
First, distill your narrative into a snappy 1-2 sentence logline. This should capture the protagonist, key conflict, and primary tension. For example:
When a shy teen accidentally summons a demon, he must quickly master his magical powers to banish the creature before it devours his schoolmates.
Loglines are challenging to perfect, but critical for hooking the audience. Refine yours until it’s irresistibly captivating.
Next up is the synopsis – a short 1-2 paragraph summary expanding on the logline. Cover details like:
- Additional lead and supporting characters
- The catalyst that sets the story in motion
- Key obstacles the protagonist encounters
- Main plot points and story structure
- How the central conflict is resolved
While the logline is 1-2 sentences, the synopsis allows you to tell more of the story arc. Aim for just enough detail to convey the narrative without giving everything away.
Step 3: Create a Storyboard and Screenplay Sample
Visuals are tremendously helpful for pitching a short film. The next step is translating your story into visuals.
Start by creating a storyboard. This means sketching out the most crucial scenes, shot compositions, and actions. Don’t worry about artistic quality. Simple stick-figure sketches are fine.
Storyboards allow you to:
- Map out important plot beats
- Showcase standout camera shots/angles
- Communicate tone through visuals
- Estimate the number of locations/sets
In addition to visuals, include a short writing sample of 1-2 pages from the screenplay. This gives the pitcher a taste of the dialogue and script style.
Choose a sample that conveys critical story elements and immerses the reader in the world.
Step 4: List Runtime, Format, Locations Details
To further ground the listener, provide vital technical details like:
- Intended runtime (usually under 30 minutes)
- Live-action or animated format
- Notable filming locations
Specifying locations is helpful for budgeting. For example, indicating that key scenes take place at a school, hospital, courtroom or other specialized setting gives investors an idea of production costs.
You can also note unique stylistic choices relevant to the story here, like whether it will be:
- Linear or non-linear timeline
- Black and white or color
- Naturalistic or stylized
- First-person POV or third-person
Give just enough detail to communicate the practicalities and artistic choices that make your vision unique.
Step 5: Prepare Your Pitching Materials
With the narrative and visual details fleshed out, it’s time to package everything into polished pitching materials.
Create a Short Film Pitch Deck
This should provide a visual guide to your story. Useful slides include:
- Character profiles
- Sample script pages
- Intended shot list
- Artistic/mood board with tone images
- Director’s vision statement
- Audience overview
- Budget/financing request
Rehearse Your Verbal Pitch
Don’t improvise your verbal pitch. Rehearse it thoroughly until the delivery feels natural. Time yourself to fit a 5-10 minute pitch.
The verbal pitch expands on the deck, conveying your passion for the story. Have the deck on hand, but don’t read directly from it. Make eye contact to engage your audience.
Bring Physical Materials
Print spare copies of the deck, sample script pages, and any artistic materials to leave behind after the pitch.
Having professional, branded pitch materials shows you are serious about the project.
Step 6: Highlight the Director’s Vision and Intended Audience
A compelling pitch blends the creative and the commercial. After summarizing the narrative, shift focus to your vision as a director and the target audience.
Explain what makes you the right director for this story. Share your:
- Personal connection to the characters/themes
- Relevant life experiences
- Artistic influences and inspirations
Most importantly, be clear about why you feel passionately called to tell this particular story.
Outline the intended viewer and where/how you see it being distributed. Short films may screen at:
- Film festivals
- Online platforms
- Art galleries/exhibitions
- Small independent theaters
Define the audience in terms of demographics, interests, and values. Your film may resonate with very specific groups. Outline this target viewer and why they would connect with the story.
Step 7: Include Budget Estimates and Financing Needs
Finally, any pitch needs to get down to brass tacks – how much will it cost to make this film?
Create detailed quotes and budget estimates for:
- Equipment rentals
- The production crew and cast
- Locations, permits, insurance
- Post-production (editing, music, effects)
- Submission fees for film festivals/platforms
- Contingency fund
Be transparent about your full financing needs. For shorts, this may range from $1,000 to $50,000 or more. Outline exactly how much you are seeking and potential sources like:
- Personal funds
- Private investors
- Film studio funding
The more research and thought put into the budget, the more realistic your proposal will seem. Have clear financials ready for questioning.
Pitching a short film is an intricate process. But meticulous preparation is the key to success. Follow these steps to craft a compelling narrative, visuals, and budget.
With a strategic pitch showcasing your passion and attention to detail, you can secure the funding and support needed to make your short film a reality.
- Distill into a killer logline and synopsis
- Visualize through storyboards and script samples
- Prepare a polished pitch deck and rehearse the delivery
- Sell your vision and identify target viewers
- Estimate detailed budgets and financing needs
A well-executed short film pitch convinces audiences your idea is worth investing in. Use these tips to hit the right notes with any pitcher. Turn your big idea into a small-scale masterpiece with an engaging pitch tailored to resonance and results. Action!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you write a short film pitch?
- Craft a logline summing up the protagonist and central conflict in 1-2 sentences
- Write a synopsis providing more details on characters, plot, setting, and tone
- Create visuals like storyboards to showcase important scenes
- Prepare a pitch deck with a logline, synopsis, visuals, script sample, and other materials
- Rehearse a 5-10 minute verbal pitch covering your story, vision, target audience, and budget
How long should a short film pitch be?
- The pitch deck can be as long as needed to communicate the key details
- The verbal pitch should be 5-10 minutes maximum. Conciseness is key.
What should a film pitch have?
A logline, synopsis, storyboards, script sample, mood boards, character profiles, intended shot list, director’s statement, target audience overview, budget, and financing needs.
What does a movie pitch look like?
A movie pitch deck visually guides the listener through the story via logline, synopsis, character profiles, concept art, storyboards, script samples, etc.
Can anyone pitch a movie idea?
Yes, anyone can pitch a movie idea to studios and producers. But having an existing body of work, connections in the industry, and a polished, compelling pitch will greatly help your chances.
How do you write a 5-minute short film script?
Limit characters to 1-3. Have only 1-2 simple locations. Build on a single-story event or problem. Use tight, spare dialogue. Rely on visuals over words.
How many pages is a 10-minute short film?
A 10-minute short film script is generally 5-10 pages long. Comedies and dramas average 1 script page per minute. More action-driven films average slightly less.
Is 5 minutes too short for a short film?
5 minutes can work for a short film, but is very challenging. 1-2 minutes should establish the characters and situation. 3-4 minutes build the central conflict. The last 1-2 minutes resolves it quickly.
How many pages is a 40-minute short film?
A 40-minute short film script generally ranges from 40-50 pages. Dramas average 1 script page per minute. More visual stories may average slightly less.