Experts Tobin Armbrust and Cassian Elwes advised aspiring filmmakers to be specific in their pitches to executives, as they listened to the aspiring filmmakers propose their passion projects at the AFM Pitch Conference yesterday.
Armbrust, president of worldwide production and acquisitions for Exclusive Media, asked one pitcher to add in “more specificity in plot and more specificity in tone.”
Armbrust advised: “You need a point of access for the audience. People love detail, it’s what makes certain movies really work.” He added: “If you were pitching Billy Elliott you’d give details of a few specific scenes.”
Producer-agent Elwes advised another slightly generic pitcher: “It might be helpful to say, this is the kind of actor I’m thinking of.”
He added, “I usually hate it when pitches reference other films too much. But you could reference other films to give a sense of the kind of film you’re envisioning. That starts to make us think, ‘that’s the style.’”
Things hit a little close to home when one man pitched a buddy comedy called My AFM, about a washed-up former agent and an aspiring young writer whose paths cross as they try to pitch a project at AFM. Elwes said: “I don’t want to be mean, but there’s no chance this movie is going to get made.” Armbrust added that the film was “incredibly specific, my wife barely knows what the AFM is… you could take the story and make it a little broader and widen it.”
Both executives agreed that one pitfall they see from writer/directors is pitching films about filmmaking. “Movie biz movies don’t work,” Elwes said.
Armbrust said “I start to shut down when it’s movies about movies or movie stars. Those are very hard to sell.
Elwes shamed one pitcher as having “the worst beginning of any pitch” when he said something akin to “if you don’t like this one, I’ve got plenty of other ideas” before he even started.