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Thursday, April 19, 2007

My VisualPitch gives writers the opportunity showcase their work to industry pros by creating Visual Pitches (think mini-trailers) of their screenplays. Filmmakers with completed projects looking for a home are also uploading.
When I was starting out in the biz, occasionally people would shoot trailers for their movie rather than shooting a short film. You like my trailer, fund my movie.

The problem with shooting a trailer is that the best moments from a movie come organically from the scenes that are shot. When all you're shooting is, say, a single line from scene, the moment rarely comes off the way it would if you were shooting the whole scene. You wind up with an underfunded and undershot trailer -- 'cause you have no money to shoot it with -- that detracts instead of adding to your script.

My VisualPitch is trying another way to get around the ol' "No one will read my query" fear. They throw together some trailer-esque music and a bunch of stock photographs, Ken Burns style, to create a faux trailer.

I watched one. And the music really did sound like a trailer. The problem is, the query didn't give away very much of the story. Something about two brothers divided by a bridge, and then a woman, and then a guy who's been 23 years old since 1935. So it's like some mashup of an angsty Irish family drama and a vampire story, I guess.

While I applaud the effort to think outside the box, I don't think this is the way pitches are going to go. Because all you can do in this is dress up your logline. And that means I have to sit through a sixty second trailer, and react to the music and the slideshow, instead of just reading your logline.

If I were still taking pitches (hasn't been my job in years) I would just want to know what your story is about. Just tell me what your story is about. You can do it in one sentence. Three sentences tops. I wanna know who your main character is; what his opportunity, problem or goal is; what obstacles or antagonist he faces; what he might win, and what he stands to lose.

The elements of a story, right?

If you have a good story, you don't need to hire a firm to create a trailer for you. All you have to do is tell people what your story is. They will want to read it. That's what they do for a living.

My Visual Pitch's slogan is: You've gotta be here if you're gonna be seen.

But it ain't true. Everyone wants a great hook. A great story. And if you don't have a good story, no amount of multimedia slideshows will get people to buy it.

UPDATE: Pamela Schott of MyVIsualPitch replies:
I really appreciate that you took the time to review the site and comment on it, and your feedback is absolutely invaluable to me.

What is not evident from the home page (but becomes evident once a producer is signed in), is that all the information you want (i.e., the one-sentence logline, etc.) is displayed in its entirety. Actually, an artist can upload a logline, synopsis, and treatment. They also indicate what material is available, such as completed screenplay, or, in the case of feature trailer uploads, the entire film itself.

The Visual Pitch is there to pique a producer's interest; anything else he or she would need to know is accessible. But what I think needs to happen is that there should be a "This is what the industry will see" snapshot page on the home page (or somewhere close by) so that artists and industry pros alike know that there is the substance to back the pictures.

I think I can make a case for Visual Pitches as an alternative (initially, anyway) to simply reading loglines. As an example, these days, more people in my industry pro target audience get their news from online sources. And if there is a video available about the story, more will view the video before deciding whether or not to tuck into the story.

On the other side of this is the artist. Again, in my target audience, these are young people who are increasingly turning to user-generated content to express themselves. Along these lines, the feedback from this demographic has been instantaneous and very enthusiastic. [... snip ...] What I would consider the "youtube crowd" has really embraced the site (film school kids and their profs leading the pack).

What your blog post drives home, regardless of demographic assumptions, is that we need to be clearer on what the industry pro will have available to view, assuming the Visual Pitch hooks him in.

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