David Hal Chester
Is your one-page written pitch up to snuff?
Updated: Aug 28, 2022
Hello all. It's been a while. I hope you and yours are well. It's been a challenging time.
I thought it might be beneficial to share some of my experiences with you on this journey to get from page to screen. Specifically, the value of a pitch document. More specifically, a pitch document for a script that has not been written yet.
I have been asked for any number of documents to help sell screenplays -- whether my original ones or concepts dreamed up by producers or production companies. It just so happened that over the last 10 days I needed to generate three one-page pitches, based on pitch paragraphs that were well-received. Meaning: I had hooked people with my pitch paragraphs, but now they wanted to see: do these ideas really pan out? I wasn't sure that any of them did, but when I put my nose to the grindstone, I discovered that if the pitch paragraph is well crafted, it contains or hints at the elements required to create a great one-page written pitch:
A compelling title.
A logline with a clear hook.
Vibrant prose in present tense. Nothing too wordy!
Focus on no more than 3-4 characters.
Broad story beats -- do not get involved in detail!
Don't repeat beats (and avoid repeating the same word groups or phrases).
Punchy paragraphs, three to five, maximum.
The hint of a powerful ending. (In other words, hook them again!)
I have been working with producers who create content for Lifetime. A great one-page pitch can "seal the deal." For those familiar with the Lifetime universe, there is a LOT of drama. In order to participate in that universe, compelling one-page written pitches are essential. Your pitch should be drenched in conflict, have characters we can relate to, and each paragraph should have a "cliffhanger" feeling, forcing you to read the next one. Especially the last paragraph or sentence; you want to hook the production company enough to make them say: "Okay. You got me. Let's go to script."
In addition to pitch paragraphs and one-pagers, I have also been asked to write two-page written pitches and detailed nine-act outlines. But I have found that the one-page written pitch can, if done well, convey the excitement of what will hopefully become a 90-minute movie. Keep it in present tense, keep it moving, keep it short, punchy and compelling. You can do it!