Please Note: This article is just a collection of advise from experts on what they look for in a pitch. When you submit your idea through the Start Pitching Package, your log line should be short and precise up to 3 lines long as per MoviePitcher guidelines.
All I want to see is a logline, and four to five sentences at the most on what the script is about. I’ll know if I’m interested or not.
Kanica Suy – Sweeney Management
Take me on a journey in a sentence or two.
Susan Johnston – Select Service Films
Start off with a well-crafted hook or logline. Keep your query succinct and write as if you’re describing your film’s movie trailer. Entertain your reader with the story.
Margery Walshaw – Evatopia Entertainment
Spelling, grammar & syntax, etc., are just as important in your query letter as they are in your script. When someone sends a poorly written, un-proofread query letter, it’s hard not to imagine the script will look the same…and no one wants to deal with 100-120 pages of typos and sentence fragments. Remember that your query letter is the first example you’re giving someone of your writing, so take the time to show them you do it well.
John Yarincik – Eclectic Pictures
The most successful query letters (the ones I most often request) are the shorter ones – those that confidently present their central conceit without giving away the entire plot. I don’t really pay attention to awards and other projects that have been optioned – it’s all about THIS idea and the writer’s ability to hook me in.
Jesse Singer – Act 4 Entertainment
Brevity. Less is more. They should read it through and over a couple times, and then eliminate anything that isn’t part of the critical path. If they feel there is info they’d like to add, at least attach this as a second, or follow up paragraph, so that at least there is clear separation from actual story synopsis.
Andrew Hersh – Thrive Entertainment
Be short and concise. The idea is everything and I need to know about it. Just a logline or one or two sentences won’t do it. Then a little bit about the writer and their experience. Don’t need to know how great YOU think it is. Don’t ask me any “What if?” questions in your synopsis. Keep in mind what we’re looking for and not looking for.
Myke Friscia – Gallagher Literary Management
Keep it as short as possible. While you want to include all important elements of the screenplay, ANY time you can say it with less words – it’s a stronger pitch. I do appreciate a little info at the top about you, and I think it’s good when the pitch ends with something which denotes the resolution of the main character’s emotional-spiritual life journey in the film.
Steven Nash – Contemporary Talent Partners
I like three paragraphs, three sentences each. The first paragraph tells me who I’m rooting for and the incident/issue that sends me to the second act. The second paragraph includes the second act action, controversy or misconception that comes to light and then the twist that gets me to the third act; and the third paragraph is the climax.
Marlo Brawer – Ruthrich Productions
For me a good pitch gives me an idea and flavor of the story in a very concise and clear manner. Sometimes less is more. Detail is unimportant unless it’s required for understanding. You also don’t need to impress me with ‘big’ words. Descriptive words are much more powerful and effective. And finally, leave me wanting more. I want to be excited and compelled to want to read the script.
Paul Salamoff – Rat Bastard Productions
To us, a query letter must not have more than one typo, be very, very short, polite and not conceited, and be broken down into paragraphs. Also, if English is your second language, have someone with good grammar read the query letter before you send it.
Sammy Montana – Trancas International Films
I look for a great idea, clearly stated in as few words as possible. I also want correctly spelled words and proper grammar. If a short paragraph selling the writing isn’t good writing itself, I find that highly suspicious.
Alex Daltas – Trilogy Entertainment
I look for how the query letter is written and presented. I am checking to see if the writer can form complete sentences and if all the words are spelled correctly, etc. Also, I am looking to see if they have a sense of how or where their script might fit into the industry. Writers who offer producing suggestions in their cover letters are a major turn-off for me.
Steven Roche – Bridge Falls Entertainment
When in doubt, short and sweet is the answer. If you’ve won competitions or optioned a script, you want to lead with that. And make sure every word is perfect. Also, I’ve seen very funny cover letters before but too often the jokey queries fall very flat. Remember, we’re not hearing your vocal tone (i.e. light sarcasm can come off as harsh).
Sharif Ali – Aimee Entertainment
Keep it very brief, as in no more than half a page. Also, if it’s a true story, indicate whether or not you have the exclusive rights.
Christopher Eldridge – Lonetree Entertainment
I like to see short, concise query letters. The most important information for me is the genre and the logline. It’s also nice to know if the story is original, or inspired by true events. And without going into great detail, it’s good to know if the writer has been produced or optioned.
Graham Ludlow – Colossal Entertainment
I look for someone who can describe what he or she has written briefly but with enough punch to make me want to read the script. I want to feel their passion.
Billy DiMichele – Billy DiMichele Productions
A few of the things that make a query letter stand out for me are: 1) Brevity. A quick, compelling logline along with a short and sweet synopsis that’s long enough to convey the story, yet short enough to hold my attention; 2) Paragraphs. I’m far more likely to read all of the way through a pitch that breaks up the synopsis into paragraphs, versus one that piles everything into one big block of text with no breaks. The more black I see the less inviting it is to read; 3) Accolades. If a script’s received any notable attention (e.g. a contest win, etc.), I want to know about it up front; 4) Punctuation. Please check over the query for any and all spelling and grammar errors. It is so disinviting to find obvious, careless mistakes in a letter!
Marton Varo, Jr. – Rockview Productions
Here are my tips for query letters: 1) Address the executive by name so it doesn’t look like you’re spamming everyone; 2) Give the exec an introduction to you and your work (if you’ve been optioned and/or produced, contest wins, etc.); 3) Then, after your brief synopsis, thank the executive for their time reading your pitch.
Chris Cross – Sub Rosa Productions
For me, a great query letter is clear about the genre and the logline, and gives a concise summary (no more than a few sentences) about the story.
Margo Klewans – sekretagent Productions
Spelling and syntax counts…big time! You’re a writer and should care enough about, and be adept enough with words to use the right ones, and spell them correctly. Also, get to the point of what your query is about promptly and succinctly. Remember: this is ‘show business,’ not ‘show art.’ Be pleasant, but also business-like in your approach, and never submit anything less than your absolute best effort.
Stu Miller – The Stuart M. Miller Company
My advice is this: more emphasis on the story and less about the writer. I get queries all the time wherein the writer goes on and on about themselves and barely mention what it is they’re selling.
Jess Place – Braun Entertainment