Pitching Tips From Ottawa

Here are some useful pitching tips culled from the “Pitching Panel” at the Ottawa International Animation Festival with speakers like David Starr (Curious Pictures), Amy Andler (Cartoon Network), Athena Georgakalis (TELETOON), and Michael Fukushima (National Film Board):

• Be passionate about your work.

• Be yourself. Be natural. Be authentic. Making a pitch is all about making a connection.

• Do your homework and come prepared. Look at the network’s schedule. See what they’re running to determine what they might need.

• Don’t overburden yourself with paperwork. Bring a good mini-bible (concept, character descriptions, designs and story ideas). Bring materials you can leave behind, so the production house or network can pitch their own powers-that-be. (The same goes for making a pitch by mail.)

• Don’t write full scripts. The production house or network will want to have input on the new project.

• If you’re pitching a TV show to a network, provide copies of the animation on VHS. Animation looks different on CD-ROM or computer, and the buyer wants to know how it will look on television.

• Don’t go on about how much money will be made from the merchandising. Focus on the project.

• Know your creation inside and out. There will be questions about how the show will play out over a long period of time.

• Be patient. Each company or network receives hundreds of pitches and if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Take the opportunity to learn from mistakes.

• You may be a creator, but you also have to be a salesperson.

• Try using a website to promote yourself and your project.

• The best advice–ask the company what it is looking for and exactly what it wants to see. That goes for both pitching format as well as content.

The good news is that if you go to a pitch meeting, you’re already ahead.

Producers and networks want to find the “next big thing,” so just taking a meeting is a positive.

Being attached to a production house will help a creator’s chances. Also be sure to check out if you have to sign any release forms or documents. Many companies won’t even look at your idea without one.