A screenwriter stands giving an enthusiastic pitch to a seated director and producers in a conference room. The director and producers look actively engaged, with expressive smiles and leaning forward in captivation.

What is a Pitch in Screenwriting? A Comprehensive Guide for Beginner Writers in 2024

If you want to sell your original script idea and get it made into a movie or TV show, you need to master the art of pitching.

Pitching is an essential skill for screenwriters looking to get their big break in Hollywood or with major studios and production companies.

But what exactly is a pitch in the screenwriting context? What elements make for an effective pitch that actually excites executives and gets your project greenlit? This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about pitching your story successfully.

What is a Pitch in Screenwriting?

A pitch is a verbal presentation where a screenwriter summarizes their script idea to capture interest and investment from studios, producers, directors, and other industry executives.

It’s a sales tool meant to hook the audience on the premise, characters, tone, and world of the story in a compelling way.

Also referred to as a movie pitch or TV pitch depending on the medium, it’s the screenwriter’s key opportunity to sell the viability of their concept and get momentum behind making it.

Pitching well is an art form that requires preparation, practice, and insight into what makes a story stand out. It involves highlighting the most unique, compelling elements of your script in a concise, enthusiastic, and engaging way.

While a strong pitch won’t guarantee a sale or get a questionable screenplay made, it can intrigue top decision-makers and motivate them to read your script to learn more.

Elements of an Effective Pitch

Though every pitch is unique, most include a combination of the following elements:


A logline is a brief 1-2 sentence summary conveying the central premise of your story, typically formatted as: “When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE] or else [STAKES].” It acts as a hook that introduces the protagonist and conflict.

For example, a logline for The Lord of the Rings might be:

“When a timid hobbit inherits a mysterious magic ring, he must embark on a perilous journey to destroy it before its power falls into evil hands.”

The logline piques interest by setting up the story, main character, goal and consequences all in one compelling sentence.


While the logline offers a quick overview, the synopsis provides a more detailed 1-2 page summary of the full story from beginning to end.

It expands on all key narrative elements: protagonist background, world setup, inciting incident, escalating conflicts, character relationships, arcs, climaxes, and resolution.

The synopsis fleshes out the premise and conveys a sense of the full journey, including the complete act structure. It gives executives a clearer picture of the story’s scope and progression.

World and Character Descriptions

In addition to the logline and synopsis narrative summary, pitches often describe the story’s world, style, protagonist, and other central characters. Vivid details about the setting, time period, character backgrounds, and personality traits help bring the pitch to life.

For a sci-fi story, you may describe the futuristic city and technology. For a period drama, key historical details and character costumes and traits. The goal is to immerse executives in the world.

Central Conflict and Stakes

While the logline may hint at conflict, the pitch expands on the protagonist’s central conflict, core obstacles, adversaries, and the escalating stakes. This highlights the urgency and significance of the hero’s journey.

What begins as a character struggling with an internal flaw or local issue must build into pressing external threats with global implications. High stakes that put values, relationships, or even lives on the line give the story weight and gravitas.

Tone and Market Viability

Pitches often convey information about genre, target demographics, comparable titles, and intended tone. This helps executives visualize style and quality.

Describing a thriller as “Jason Bourne meets No Country For Old Men” or a comedy as “Wedding Crashers mixed with Bridesmaids” can be useful examples.

Any notable details about the potential audience, market demand, and merchandising opportunities may also be mentioned. The viability of a story concept is more attractive.

Tips for Pitching Your Story

While the components above provide structure, the actual delivery makes or breaks a pitch. Here are important tips when pitching your work as a screenwriter:

  • Prepare extensively but don’t read. Have bullet points, not verbatim scripts. Sound conversational.
  • Hook interest right away. Lead with an intriguing logline before filling in details.
  • Be enthusiastic and energetic. This shows passion for the idea.
  • Make it visual. Invoke imagery and staging when describing key scenes.
  • Highlight unique elements. Convey why the concept and characters are fresh.
  • Listen carefully to reactions and answer questions thoughtfully. This builds rapport.
  • Have concise examples ready for tone, style, and demographic info.
  • Time it appropriately. Leave them wanting more. 10-20 minutes is often sufficient.
  • Avoid over-explaining minor plot intricacies. Stick to key arcs.
  • Use natural body language and eye contact to engage your audience.
  • Be confident but humble. Take feedback well.
  • Practice the pitch extensively beforehand to refine it.

While pitching an original script is challenging, excellent preparation and presentation can get decision-makers excited by your vision.

Confidently highlight your story’s most compelling ingredients while showing your ability to collaborate. With practice, the process can become fun and rewarding versus intimidating. Remember, a great pitch is enthusiastic storytelling – let your passion shine through.


Pitching is a critical skill on the path to selling your original screenplay and getting it produced.

A well-crafted pitch distills your story down to key elements – logline, synopsis, world, characters, tone, and market viability. It excites executives by highlighting the concept’s most fresh, intriguing ingredients.

Delivering a pitch requires thoughtful prep and relentless practice to find the right natural rhythm. Enthusiasm and visual details are critical to bring your idea to life.

Listening and being adaptable to feedback also helps build genuine rapport. Mastering the ability to effectively pitch stories can get your foot in the door and elevate your screenwriting career. The next great idea may be yours – a compelling pitch can help make it a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a pitch for a screenplay?

To write a pitch, create a logline that sums up your story, then write a 1-2 page synopsis covering the full plot, characters, central conflict, and key details. Prepare a hook, and compelling descriptions of the world, protagonist, and tone. Highlight unique elements and market viability. Practice extensively to pitch conversationally.

What does pitch mean in film?

In film, a pitch is a verbal presentation where a screenwriter summarizes their script idea to studios, producers, directors, and executives in order to gain interest and investment in making it.

What does it mean to write a pitch?

Writing a pitch involves distilling your full script down into a short, compelling overview that hooks the audience. This includes a logline, synopsis, world/character details, central conflict and stakes, tone, and market viability details.

How long is a screenplay pitch?

Most screenplay pitches range from 10-20 minutes long. The pitch should include key details but avoid going through every minor plot twist. Leave them wanting to read more.

Do you need a script for a pitch?

You don’t necessarily need a full script drafted to pitch the idea, but you should have the full story mapped out in order to effectively summarize the narrative and pull out the most compelling details.

How do you start off a pitch?

Good pitch openings hook the audience’s interest right away, often starting with a logline before going into a synopsis and further details. Grabbing attention up front is key.

What does a film pitch look like?

A film pitch is a spoken presentation focusing on the most intriguing elements of a script – the premise, characters, tone, setting, central conflict, and stakes – to get listeners excited about the story’s potential.

What does a pitch for a movie look like?

A movie pitch summarizes the key ingredients of a film – the logline, plot/character summaries, central conflict and stakes, intended tone, and demographic – in a verbal presentation designed to secure interest in the concept from studios and producers.

Can anyone pitch a movie idea?

While anyone can verbally present a movie concept, most studios only seriously consider pitches from established screenwriters, directors, and producers who have proven industry experience and connections for getting a project into development.

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