Pitching a Pitch Deck Presentation
R E A S E A R C H | D E C . 5 , 2 0 2 2
During my time in ISM, I made an effort to take initiative and strengthen my presentation skills. I knew that my next filmmaking endeavor would be significantly larger in scope than my previous one, and thus, would need to make a pitch deck for any potential producers or investors who would be interested. Pitch decks are presentations given to producers that detail an idea for a film or TV series to get their idea greenlit for production. Pitching a film is an incredibly vital part of filmmaking, as it can alter the course of your film production as well the quality of your film. Although I've heard of a pitch deck before, I never found it to be worthwhile to learn about, since I never would've imagined myself having to pitch my films to anyone. Since there isn't any semblance of a film industry in Frisco, I've been a vocal advocate for independent film, guerilla filmmaking, and anti-traditional film industry rhetoric. However, independent filmmakers aren't exempt from certain studio filmmaking techniques, and pitch decks are one of the most important ones. This raises the question: How can you make an effective pitch deck to persuade others to join your project?
The second step, which is about proper preparation, emphasizes the importance of being prepared to constantly update your presentation as you go through the process. As you continue making your pitch deck, your story, characters, cinematography, and other such aspects of the film could change. The fact that my story doesn't have to be 100% set in stone and I should embrace any change that I find was a relief to hear. Whenever I'm in the conceptual stages of a film idea, I feel like I have to have everything figured out to have a satisfying and cohesive narrative. However, hearing that my story will eventually change helps me with focusing on current details and preparing for future roadblocks. Despite this sentiment, it's also important to have an idea for any long-term plans. This could include distribution, film festival strategies, and other such goals set months after the film's completion. Although it's great to embrace change and spontaneity, it's always necessary to have a bigger picture in mind and not lose sight of it. Having that sense of grounded realism can help you prove to producers how serious you are about your film. This can be effectively shown through being realistic about your numbers, which is step number 3.
There are a few obvious answers to this question that come to mind. Making it visually striking is a no-brainer, having a clear structure is a necessity, and including vital details such as budget, schedules, and other similar producer-heavy information would certainly appeal to those wishing to jump on board. However, an article from Sundance Collab details four key steps to creating an effective pitch deck. The first step is to know your audience. Whether it's the idea itself or the person you're [resenting your idea to, knowing who your audience is will determine how well you can prepare to win over whomever it is that you're pitching your film to. I was surprised at how much I overlooked the first step in this process. In the previous pitch decks I have created, I always thought about how I would present the slideshow, but never considered how to effectively communicate my ideas to my audience. However, preparation goes far beyond preparing for a specific audience.
Pitch decks need to contain information that will be accessible and appeal to most people, but doing your research into being realistic with anything associated with money will make your pitch deck stand apart from the rest. It's difficult for filmmakers to discern what would be financially best for their film, but doing so will attract investors who believe that you have everything economically under control. When you make that film for too high of a budget and you can't recoup it, investors won’t want to come back or waste their money on other film projects.
On the other hand, you wouldn't want your numbers to be too low to risk having not enough funds to properly make your film come alive. This bit of information intimidated me when I first read it, as budgeting for a film is something that I have always struggled with. Film equipment is expensive, and it's incredibly difficult to have anyone lend me any financial help, especially as a minor. However, this financial side of filmmaking did pique my interest and is something that I want to learn more about in the near future. Although it's reasonable to want to push your limits financially and reach for the stars, it's important to keep in mind that independent filmmaking is built on using the resources around you, which is the fourth and final step.
Finding industry executives who are experts in making an idea come to fruition can be incredibly difficult for anyone who hasn't had any experience in the film industry. When starting in film, it's important to prove to these investors or producers that you are mindful of what you already have around you. This proves that you can creatively solve issues involving a lack of resources, it alleviates stress from the producers and takes away work for them to do, and it shows your ability to take initiative and get the ball rolling. I've been stuck in this cycle of not wanting to settle for less while simultaneously getting discouraged by the lack of resources around me. When I read this bit of advice that I need to embrace what I already have as well as keep that ambition within me, I realized the importance of not being blinded by ambition while doing something outside my comfort zone.