The three biggest mistakes made by writers in pitching their ideas to producers and TV executives are failing to encapsulate the premise in one sentence, using too much detail, and not bringing enough passion to the pitch, according to writer Holly Lyons.
“Too much detail is a rookie mistake. Nobody wants to listen to a beat by beat outline of your pilot episode,” says Lyons.
“Choose your most exciting scene, perhaps the inciting incident or your cold open, and describe that. You need to prove that your idea has legs, so pitch the big picture.
“And don’t be shy. Bring your personality to the pitch. It’s not just your project you’re selling, it’s ‘You.’ Are you the kind of person they’ll want to work with? Make eye contact, make a joke, make a connection with your listener. Know your material off by heart.”
Lyons is a script editor and screenwriting lecturer at the Australia Film Television & Radio School, with over twenty years industry experience. Her credits include Home and Away, Emmerdale, Help I’m a Teenage Outlaw, Dani’s House and Fireman Sam.
According to Lyons, writers constantly debate whether it’s a good idea to reference other shows or films. But while it may convey tone, there is a risk it makes projects seem unoriginal and generic.
“The worst scenario is to refer to another show and later discover the producer you’re pitching to was fired from it,” she explains.
Lyons currently runs Screenwriting Scriptease, a script assessment and script editing service for projects at all stages – including story work as well as draft scripts.
Screenwriting Scriptease offers help with development, including crafting two page treatments and shaping bibles right through to pitching skills. Recently Lyons also introduced a mentoring service, to give advice to emerging writers on how to navigate the industry.
“Book a feedback session today and receive 20% discount for all of September,” she added.