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Autonomous Animator: Pitch-Perfect

Bugs Bunny definitely knew his way around a good Hollywood pitch session!
Bugs Bunny definitely knew his way around a good Hollywood pitch session!



Autonomous Animator: Pitch-Perfect

How to be prepared for your next Zoom meeting with a development exec.

Think you have the next great idea for an animated feature? If so, you’ll need to develop and deliver an amazing pitch to stand even the slightest chance of landing a production or distribution deal.

Movie executives typically don’t deal with mere mortals, especially when financing or a co-production deal is being sought, so you’ll need to hire an entertainment attorney, producer, or agent that believes in your project to get you in the door.

In the meantime, you’ll need to perfect your pitch. Keep in mind, the same things that make a great pitch in person are the same things that make a great pitch remotely. In fact, remote pitches are nothing new. Many a movie pitch has been made “live via satellite” or through the net. High-speed internet has made it more convenient and effective than ever to pitch a project to a potential client out of state or even overseas.

Do Your Homework

Whether pitching your idea remotely or in person, you’ll need to do plenty of research before identifying appropriate candidates. Dive deep into the entire catalog of the studio you are interested in and make sure your idea is on topic. Requesting to pitch an over the top zombie gore fest to a company that focuses on children’s educational content will more than likely result in you being placed on the “auto-ignore” list.

Find a company that has produced successful titles in the same genre as your idea, as this establishes your intention of aligning with and adding to their more successful work. Additionally, you will be expected to have intrinsic knowledge of their existing content, so brush up on their full body of work. This shows respect, passion, a genuine interest in their company and that you’ve done your homework.

Best-Laid Plans

After scheduling a date for your presentation, work with your agent to establish the best approach for your pitch.

Some companies make their decisions based exclusively on financials, while others may be better wooed by a great story. This being the case, you need to come prepared for all occasions but will probably be best served by polishing your story and passionate delivery to a mirror-like shine, as some successful pitches of yore consisted of little more than a sole presenter explaining and acting out the entire movie from start to finish.

The Three Ps of Pitching

Practice, practice, practice! You’ll need to rehearse your pitch over and over again until it becomes second nature. And after a hundred tries, when you finally have it perfected, rehearse at least 10 more times.

You’ll need to repeatedly record yourself, start to finish, then watch with an unflinching eye. Judge and critique your performance to the standard of a movie created by the greatest director and most legendary cast ever assembled. Redline any area where the pacing drags or passion lags, and refine these areas so each round is better than the last.

Whatever your approach may be, it’s crucial to get to the point quickly. Establish the need or benefit of this particular idea as it pertains to their company — and even mention fierce competitors and how this idea will help them beat said competition.

Icing on the Cake

While some agents may tell you not to bury the lead (i.e., save the best for last), if you’re able to keep your audience riveted and the execs interested throughout your pitch, sometimes a powerful image or quick animation sample at the very end can really help push you over the proverbial edge. The visuals need to be compelling and strike a strong emotional chord in your audience, so spend plenty of time producing a very short and very powerful sample of your movie and present this as the grand finale.

And always remember to treat your pitch as if it’s a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie because, if all goes well, it just might turn into one.

Martin Grebing is the president of Funnybone Animation Studios. He can be reached at


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