Did you know that individuals without any contacts in Hollywood have a higher success rate than individuals with contacts? The fact is that 41% of movies being made stem from ideas inspired by individuals that have no background or connections to the film industry. 48% of the ideas come directly from employees of the studios that produce these ideas under “hired for work” status. A mere 11% come from individuals who have used their personal contacts to access decision makers.
How can people with no association to Hollywood have an almost four times better pitching success rate than individuals with contacts? There are a number of reasons that contribute to this anomaly, but some of the most obvious ones are:
The Path Of Least Resistance Given that both individuals with contacts as well as those without contacts have an equal motivation in reaching their goal, it would be logical for each person to try to achieve their goal in the easiest way possible. If you have a friend that knows a decision maker, surely you will consider this to be a great advantage. So you scheduled a meeting with the source in record time, and you are all ready to give it your best shot. Many people don’t realize that pitching a project is an art that requires (among other things) skill, tactics, a solid background and timing. These decision makers have listened to thousands of ecstatic individuals trying to convince them that their idea is golden, but the point is that even if you do have a great idea, it just might not be what they need to fill the 10pm-11pm time slot. Decision makers consider these meetings to be a waste of time, as they would much rather receive an email with a brief log line of the idea. Ideally, they prefer to ask for an idea when they need one from a company that specializes in gathering and sorting ideas rather than receive another of those emails that fill up their mailboxes every day.
Meanwhile, individuals with no contacts probably had to go through the process of researching how to promote your project to Hollywood, where they developed a clear understanding of how things work. Their only option is to hire a company that specializes in pitching projects and choose one or several companies that sound trustworthy.
Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None People who had to read their way through the labyrinth of information available online on how to successfully pitch a project eventually realize that though they might be gifted writers with a killer story, it does not necessarily mean that they are the best person to pitch it forward. Just as an architect needs a contractor and a civil engineer to build his project, a writer needs a pitching company. For a writer to pitch directly to Hollywood is like an architect asking a bank for a loan without a building project.
Jesus Was Rejected By His Own People So you have a childhood friend that happens to be a director and knows people. You have recently confessed to him your passion for writing and you ask him if he can promote your latest screenplay. Being your buddy he gladly accepts without even really knowing what the story is about. Meanwhile, he meets a professional writer through work that has a story that he wants him to direct. Unfortunately for you, human nature dictates people get more excited to do business with new people rather than old contacts. Even if your friend is truly trying to promote your project, you cannot expect them to drop what they are doing, forget about their own agenda and focus on your project.
Show Me The Money Incentive is key in a successful pitch. While contacts can try their best to help you, it is not what they do for a living, which ultimately means that they are not motivated enough or are not the best at it. Hiring a company to pitch your project is a better choice 98% of the time simply because they specialize in pitch presentation, have a bigger pitching audience, and they have incentives. Most pitching companies have ulterior motives that go far beyond the idea submission fee. They usually benefit from production and talent attachment deals so they are motivated without charging you an arm and a leg.
Tooting Your Own Horn Objectivity regarding the validity of an idea as a high-concept is crucial for a successful pitch. You instantly loose objectivity the minute you start talking about your own project. Picture yourself as the decision maker and compare listening to someone promote their own idea versus a professional pitching team presenting an idea that stood out from thousands of other ideas. This doesn’t mean that executives might not go for a good idea pitched by the person that conceived it but we feel that this is a valid factor to consider regarding the 4:1 pitching success ratio with individuals that choose a company rather than doing it themselves.