How to do a pitch in dance
A dance with the devil inside the inmost cave… – MY BLANK PAGE
Yes, pitching your screenplay ideas is an art and a craft indeed. If you are lucky enough to get into a room and garner the attention of a producer or executive, you’ll only have a few minutes to hook them or lose them. Always remember this fact going in: Your idea is the most important thing in the world to you — it’s not to them. They hear dozens of pitches a week and if they’ve been in the business long enough, they immediately know if your idea is right for them or not. Do your homework before you take the meeting and know of the kind of material the company or producer develops. You don’t want to pitch a romantic comedy to a company that produces action films, or pitch an hour police procedural to a TV company that produces sitcoms.
It’s also important to know who you are pitching to and their background. Most likely unless you are an “A list” writer with heavy credits, they will only know your writing from what you submitted for consideration. Get to know them before you take the meeting. They’ll be impressed if you know their work and credits. I always make sure I’ve watched their movie or TV show before going into a meeting just to familiarize myself with their work. It shows respect for them and your professionalism as a screenwriter. I also look up their credits and investigate if we’ve ever worked with the same people before. This happened recently at a pitch meeting I took with a producer. I learned that we both know a good friend of mine who used to work with the producer years ago at a studio. It helps to break the ice and gives them a little more confidence in you.
I hope it goes without me stating, but I will remind you it’s extremely important being on time for your meeting. In fact, be early because it’s a given they will always make you wait much like you do at the doctor’s office. It’s okay if they are running late, it’s not okay if you make them wait because you are late. Once the meeting starts, always stay calm. It’s easy to get nervous and lose focus. You must know your ideas completely and answer any questions if they arise. The worst thing is not to have an answer or a creative solution worked out before they start asking the hard questions.Your film or TV show must be about “something.”
The meeting will probably last twenty minutes and you’ll have about half of the time to pitch your ideas. After the obligatory small talk, you should open first with a quick overview in a few sentences to prepare them for your presentation. This is the short logline that sells the bigger concept so they know what to expect. As your time is precious and limited, using visual aids with your pitch is an effective tool to communicate your concept. You can present them on your iPad or laptop and they can include a sizzle reel, a mock trailer, photos, paintings, or a promo video with fast paced images to present the concept, characters, location, tone, and story arc of your film or TV series pitch. When they clearly understand your solid vision, it builds their confidence that you can write the idea you’re presenting and this can help to close the deal.
Then pitch the idea and take no more than about five minutes. Feature ideas should include the major beats and the act breaks to keep them focused on where you are in the story. If you are pitching a TV idea, you’re pitching the pilot episode and the set up for the entire series. Again, include the major beats of the overall show idea and always leave them wanting more.
Keep your ideas well-structured, but also stay fluid and be able to improvise. If you’re pitching and suddenly realize that you’ve left something out, soldier on and try to make the save. It helps to give your ideas breathing room so the producer can fill in some of the blanks with their creative input as they hopefully see your story. Always practice your pitches before the meeting and memorize them like you would dialogue.
Never allow their reactions (good or bad) to affect your pitching. If it’s going badly, it’s extremely difficult to receive that immediate feedback in your face as your idea is clearly going up in flames. I was in a pitch meeting where the producer was staring into space with a vacant expression and playing with the couch cushion during our pitch. It looked like my then writing partner and I had put her in a trance. We obviously were not hooking her with the pitch and I felt like Daffy Duck in that Bugs Bunny cartoon “Show Biz Bugs” where Daffy keeps trying to win over the audience’s approval with even more daring stunts. The producer sat politely and listened and when we finished, she immediately thanked us and ushered us out. Keep faith in your idea because a pitch meeting is like rolling dice — you never know how it will turn out.
Pitch meetings can become bizarre experiences that leave you wondering how did it go so well or so wrong? I recently pitched two TV pilots to a very successful film/TV production company and it was my best pitch meeting ever. I knew going in that my original pilot they were considering was not the kind of show they would produce, but I wanted to showcase my writing ability with a heartfelt piece of original material. If I was lucky enough to get a meeting, I wanted to have in my arsenal, two follow-up pitches of the kind of shows they actually do produce. Luckily, the executives liked my writing and brought me in for a meeting.
I rehearsed the week leading up to the meeting and when I was waiting in the lobby, I centered myself and did not have any expectations about the outcome. This removed any fear. I wasn’t even stressed they were running late. When I pitched, I was calm and focused on every point. They took detailed notes and the meeting was a success. I walked out feeling a creative high because the outcome didn’t matter. I had accomplished exactly what I set out to do: Showcase my writing and offer up more ideas for consideration. I never thought for a minute they would buy my pitches just from this one meeting. A few days later they got back with very kind words and will keep me on their list for staff writing positions.
Sometimes it doesn’t always go that well. Here’s one that goes down in the history books—my worst pitch meeting ever.
After a pitch meeting, the producer or executive may give you constructive criticism, but they will never say “No” or “It’s not for us” to you directly. They will always follow-up after with your agent or manager with their answer. They also don’t usually make an offer for your pitch at the meeting either. No reputable producer will ever force you to make a decision about anything at your pitch meeting—unless they offer to buy it “in the room.” That means they make you an offer on the spot and you decide to take it or leave it. That’s rare, but your representation should always handle any further discussion. It’s part of being a professional screenwriter.
That’s all you can hope for in most pitch meetings. It’s all about putting your face and personality in front of the potential buyers. If they read your writing and like it, you’ll get a pitch meeting and a chance for an audience. If they pass, you move on to another producer or company and try again. Selling a pitch is extremely difficult if you are a writer without credits because producers need to know they can trust to you deliver the goods as pitched. So, if you don’t sell your pitch but they like your writing and ideas, you just opened a door and a place to revisit with your next idea or script. One meeting begets another and you start to build your network of possible employers who start to know your writing.
Mastering the art and craft of pitching is an important part of your screenwriting arsenal. Practice, do your homework and always be professional. The ability to pitch will serve you well during your entire career.
“What they now tell you is the agent got a date with an executive and you’re going to pitch a story. Pitch? The pitch stuff used to be Sandy Koufax. He was pitching. Me, I’m no pitcher. Most of the time you sit there and pitch to the executive, and you know his face and you study it, and then finally you figure out where you know his face. He was the mail boy at William Morris, and now you’re pitching a story to him. Then suddenly you’re so ashamed of yourself you say, “Forget it. You wouldn’t like it anyway,” and walk out.”—Billy Wilder in “The Great MovieMakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age” by George Stevens, Jr.
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“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then.”—William Faulkner
Hemingway said it best, “I still believe, though, that it is very bad for a writer to talk about how he writes. He writes to be read by the eye and no explanations or dissertations should be necessary. You can be sure that there is much more there than will be read at any first reading and having made this it is not the writer’s province to explain it or to run guided tours through the more difficult country of his work.”
“Don’t focus on where you’re not (famous or A-list writer)—focus on where you’re at—hopefully screenwriting. Regardless of success or experience, we’re all equals in front of that blank page channeling the muse.”—Scriptcat
“Most directors do not want to rewrite the script. They have more pressing commitments on the sound stage. The writer’s best insurance against a rewrite is to have an understanding of the directorial problems. Write a scene that can’t be played, no matter how beautiful the words or thoughts, is begging for a revamp.”—Jerry Lewis
How’s Your Pitch? Using The Power of Your Voice
“Follow me” I whisper as I sneak around the room on my toes.
As I gain more and more experience teaching little ones, I become more aware of things that work and things that don’t. One thing I know for sure is that your voice and the way you use it, is so very important. When parents come to me and say, “We tried a different class but the teacher was blah” (yes, parents have used that exact word), I automatically think about what the teacher might be missing when speaking, directing and interacting with his or her students.
The voice is so powerful. If I absolutely had no props at all and had no music, I could still teach a class that my students would love. I can recall two different times when my musician didn’t show up and my iPod died and I had to teach a whole class without music. It can be done by knowing how to use your voice. Toning up your vocal cords could be just the thing you need to make your already awesome class, more wonderful!
Here are a few ways I use my voice with my preschoolers. Keep in mind, the skill is knowing the right time to incorporate each one.
Bring it down a notch
Sometimes I catch myself with my voice too high. You know, the “gooochy goo” voice that old ladies do to babies when they see them at the grocery store? When I notice I am doing this, my students ARE NOT listening. I don’t know what it is, but they don’t respond well to a high-pitch voice. If you bring it down just one octave, I see much better results. Sooo, save your granny voice for the grocery store!
When to use it? All the time!
Kids make silly noises, so why shouldn’t you? Noises can help you establish a really great connection with your students. I have a noise for everything. Zip up your jacket (ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiip), put on your boots (shew-shew), balance on one foot (that noise you make with the tongue on the roof of your mouth. cluck?). It’s the most fun when you ask them to make up noises for their movements. We have made up some really awesome movement qualities that way. Silly noises just add another layer of engaging and fun!
When to use it? When the energy in the room is low.
My absolute favorite way to speak to children. Honestly, if I could teach a whole class with a whisper I would! This grabs their attention so quickly. They have to try really hard to hear what you are saying and it brings the focus right to you in a split second. Sometimes, I give 3 step directions in a whisper and it’s interesting to see what they pick up. If you haven’t tried this, you must, it changes everything!
When to use it? When it’s hard to get everyone’s attention at the same time. When distractions are keeping them from being engaged.
Speaking softly is different than a whisper. If your room is loud, instead of being louder than the room, get softer. Getting louder will just cause more chaos. Personally, this is the hardest one to remember for me. Your natural instinct is to be in authority and get louder over them, but it doesn’t work. It also makes me feel better about speaking to my students. What teacher wants to yell and scream over 15 preschoolers? Being loud has it’s place, but in this case softer is better.
When to use it? When the room is loud or the students are loud.
Ok, so I’m not a Broadway singer, I have no idea if I even sound good, (doubt it) but the kids don’t care. The more directions and dances you can sing, the more interesting you become and the more they will want to do what you are asking of them. Young children never get tired of singing, it’s a part of everything they do. Just sing words to any tune that comes out of your mouth. I’m famous for making it up as I go!
When to use it? As much as you can!
Challenge yourself to try a few of these. Try them on one of your toughest classes, you will be amazed by how they respond.
Hmmm . . . I wonder what I would ever do if I lost my voice? Wink, wink!
Do you incorporate your voice using any of these tools? What type of voice engages your students the most? I would love to hear!
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Maria Hanley Blakemore
A passionate advocate for early childhood dance education, Maria Hanley Blakemore specializes in teaching ages 0 months to 6 years. She left NYC, where she designed and implemented programs at Manhattan’s Jewish Community Center, Dancewave Center and The Mark Morris Dance Group, to teach dancers in the greater Cleveland area. Maria holds a Master’s degree in dance education from New York University (2007) and a Bachelor’s degree in dance performance from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania (2005). Maria authors the blog Maria’s Movers (www.mariasmovers.com) where she shares creative ideas and strategies for teaching young dancers. Maria served on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee for 2 years and presented at the 2012 Dance USA Conference. She also presents at the Dance Teacher Summit in New York City. Read Maria’s posts.
Gliding step in dance
Pas (fr.) - step
Glisser (fr.) - to glide.
Pas glissé (pas glissé) - a sliding step that begins with a preliminary rise to half-toes on both legs.
Glide is performed without lifting the toe of the working leg from the floor, while performing the movement, the toe must slide on the floor.
Time signature 2/4.
Glide takes 1/2 beat.
Score: I-1-I-2 (I)
- Shifting body weight from two legs to one.
- Bringing the leg to the toe - battement tendu - tandu battman in 1 and 3 positions in a cross one at a time (right foot and left foot).
- Rise on half-toes (relevé - relevé) in 1 and 3 positions.
PA GLISS FORWARD
The dancers stand in a circle, facing along the line of dance.
Legs - in 3 positions (right leg in front).
Hands - on the belt or in the ball position.
|Start (I)|| Rise on the toes of both legs in 3 pos. |
Knees almost straight.
Right foot glider:
Sliding motion of the right leg, without lifting the toe off the floor, bring forward to the toe in 4 pos. and take a step with the right foot forward from the toe to the entire foot. Shift your weight onto your right leg. nine0003
Right knee softens slightly.
The left leg remains behind on the toe (in 4 pos.). The knee of the left leg is straightened.
|and|| While straightening the knee of the right leg, with a sliding movement of the toe along the floor, pull the left leg to the right leg in 1 pos. and rise on the half-toes of both legs. |
Knees almost straight.
Left foot glider:
Move the left foot forward on the toe in 4 pos. and take a step forward with your left foot from the toe to the entire foot. Shift your weight onto your left leg. nine0003
The knee of the left leg softens slightly.
The right leg remains behind on the toe (in 4 pos.). The knee of the right leg is straightened.
|and|| Straightening the knee of the left leg, with a sliding movement of the toe on the floor, pull the right leg to the left leg in 1 pos. and rise on the half-toes of both legs. |
Knees almost straight.
Next - continue moving again with the right foot.
Glide REAR and Glide SIDE
The movements are performed in the same way.
- Glide begins with a preliminary rise to half toes on both feet.
- When lifting on half-toes, be sure to bring the legs together (connect the feet in 1 or 3 positions, compress the knees and hips).
- All movements must be sliding (glide the toe along the floor without lifting it off the floor).
- Steps start at the toe. Feet - turn out.
- Glide slightly longer than normal pitch. nine0024
- Pas gliding can be performed all the time with one foot, or alternately, then with the right, then with the left foot.
- Before starting the step on the other leg, the free leg is brought forward through 1 position with the knee slightly bent. Then the knee should be straightened.
- Gliding can be done both forward and backward, keeping the same sequence of movements.
- " Ballroom dance of the 16th - 19th centuries ". Ivanovsky N.P. Under the editorship of Yu.I. Slonimsky. Moscow-Leningrad, ed. Art, 1948
- " Historical dance ". Tutorial. I. Voronina. M., "Art", 1980
- "Ballroom dancing". Sarikojumu dejas. Lasman Milda. Publishing house Latvias Valsts Izdevnieciba, Riga (Riga), 1954
- "Dance ". Textbook for theatrical universities (on stage dance). Vasilyeva E.D. M., Art, 1968
- Educational and methodological recommendations for the organization of work with the whole class in elementary school on rhythm, rhythmoplasty and ballroom dancing . Shutikov Yu.N. St. Petersburg, 2006
- " Rhythm at school, the third lesson of physical culture ". Teaching aid. J.E. Firileva, A.I. Ryabchikov, O.V. Zagryadskaya, Rostov-on-Don "Phoenix", 2014
Pas (fr.) - step
Marcher (fr. ) - to walk, walk, step; walk, move
Pas marché (on the march) - a light dance step.
The dance step is the basis of all classical ballroom dancing. This is a step when the foot is placed on the floor with an extended toe on the entire foot. nine0003
The dance step can be played in different time signatures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4) and at different tempos.
The dancers stand in a circle, facing along the line of dance.
Legs - in 1 or 3 pos. (right leg in front).
Hands in ball position.
|Zatakt (I)|| Push the right foot forward on the toe - battement tendu - buttman tandyu with the right foot forward. |
The supporting left leg softens slightly at the knee.
|1|| Take a small dance step forward with the right foot: |
- slightly raise the toe of the right foot above the floor
- step from the toe on the ball of the right foot
- go to the whole foot - put the heel of the right foot on the floor
- stand on the right leg, transfer the weight of the body to it (the left leg remains behind on the toe, without weight)
|and|| Supporting right leg slightly softens at the knee. |
The left leg, also slightly softened at the knee, is carried out in a sliding motion through 1 pos. and is brought forward on the toe.
|2|| Take a small dance step forward with the left foot: |
- slightly raise the toe of the left foot above the floor
- step from the toe on the ball of the left foot
- go to the whole foot - put the heel of the left foot on the floor
- stand on the left leg, transfer the weight of the body to it (the right leg remains behind on the toe, without weight)
Then repeat the movement again with the right leg.
- Item name:
- Dance steps should be light, flowing and small. nine0024
- When the heel hits the floor, the knee of the skating leg softens slightly.
- The transfer of body weight from one leg to the other should be smooth, imperceptible.
Pas (fr.) - step
Marcher (fr.) - walk, go, step; walk, move
Pas marché (Pa march) - dance walking, light dance step.