Many writers believe that their awesome script is going to pave the way to elite Hollywood meetings with movers and shakers, start bidding wars for the rights, and have Academy Award winning actors begging for a shot at playing their characters. Hey- it’s fun to dream, right?
Of course having a great, awesome, stupendous script is a major part of the equation, there are other ingredients needed to make this perfect cake a success. These include your logline, elevator pitch, a pitch on paper (POP), a synopsis and/or treatment, and a brilliant query letter.
1. The Logline — Essentially, the logline is your story minimized to thirty words or less, that highlights the hook, and as many of the basic elements that make up the story’s essence: protagonist, antagonist, the protag’s goal, the obstacles, the stakes, the irony and the tone of the genre. A strong, effective logline can result in a producer requesting to read your script, the ultimate goal of almost every spec screenwriter (for more on loglines and how to create them, please refer to earlier entries on this blog).
2. The Elevator Pitch — This pitch is a little longer than your logline, containing a bit more detail. It may be three to five lines, if necessary, or basically the length of time an average non-stop elevator ride to the parking garage might take in a typical Hollywood office building. The elevator pitch may provide more plot information, and hint at potential back story motives.
3. Pitch-on-Paper (POP) — A pitch on paper is your one-sheet, or a one page summary of your concept. This would entail substantially more details or your story, but just as an overall synopsis of the story. Like the logline and elevator pitch, it is designed to entice the producer to request and read the script.
4. Synopsis/Treatment — If you need or want to provide even more details about your story, you’ll need a synopsis or a treatment. Generally, a synopsis is about three pages in length, while a treatment may be as much as ten pages. These allow you to go into greater detail regarding your story, explaining character interrelationships, conflicts small and large, and may even include some examples of the dialogue used by your characters. A proper synopsis should break down all three acts over multiple paragraphs. This includes the ending. Do not think you can entice a producer to read your script just so she can get closure on the story. It’s not enticing; it’s annoying. They’ll feel like they’ve wasted their time, and hold it against you. If they want to know how it ends, they’ll just call you and ask you. It’s not like you’re not going to tell them!
5. The Query Letter — this is a tool with which you contact your producer, manager or agent list, hoping to request the script. The query will contain the project title, the genre, and a specific format of inquiry that is just now making the rounds. This is a format derived by a writer’s group who simply interviewed and polled over a thousand producers, executives, assistants, and readers/gatekeepers. This unique format was determined to be THE most effective query letter format used today. It is designed to assist the producer, et al., to know very quickly, the high points of the story. The exclusive format of this query letter, taught to The Script Mentor members, includes one-to-three “hooks” and a writer’s bio.
So, while the perfect screenplay is important, in order for anyone to notice and read it, you must make sure you also have your pitch tools perfected as well. The Script Mentor can help you construct and improve any, or all, of these marketing tools for your projects.