It’s no secret that this pandemic has wrought havoc on the way we live our lives and conduct business. For screenwriters, perhaps the strangest shift in our day-to-day has been seeing your general, staffing, and pitch meetings go from in-person meetings to Zoom or other video conference platforms. This is obviously less than ideal, but there are still ways to stand out from the crowd in this wonky format. Here are some tips from our rock star Script Anatomy faculty to help you slay your general, staffing, and pitch meetings, regardless of medium.
Script Anatomy instructor Hollie Overton, who in addition to screenwriting is also a published novelist, offers advice for Zoom pitches that also applies to cultivating an overall work-from-home routine:
“Though I’ve had more than a few Zoom meetings where the exec is in a hoodie and unshaven or sweats with no make-up, I still make sure I put on my favorite meeting shirt and some lipstick and powder. For me, it’s about feeling my absolute best so I can have a great meeting, but it also helps give those days a bit more structure.” ~ Hollie Overton, WB Writers Workshop Alumni, staffed on TELL ME A STORY (CBS All Access), SHADOWHUNTERS (Freeform), and more.
Script Anatomy instructor Katie Gruel has great advice particularly for writers cohabitating in a small space:
Try to find a place in your home where you won’t have any distractions. My husband and I live in a one bedroom, so we work together to figure out who gets the common area when. Also, I try to keep my space where I’m having the meeting clean – that means no clutter. You want your space to feel as peaceful as possible, which will help you feel calm during the meeting.
For staffing meetings, practice your pitches. Zoom meetings can lend towards meetings being shorter, so if you need to pitch ideas, you want to make sure you’re not long-winded. Saying your pitches out loud to yourself, will help you figure out what the heart of the pitch is and how to get it across in the most efficient way. It also might help to jot your pitches down so you can reference things you want to get across in the meeting. (But of course, try to stay present. You don’t want to be reading off of the page for most of the meeting.)” ~ Katie Gruel, staffed on PERCEPTION (TNT), SHADES OF BLUE (NBC), and DOMINION (Syfy)
We love these tips from instructor Zach Ayers on virtual pitches:
“As much as we’d like to think that your show will be judged solely on the merits of your story, presentation matters. Just because your pitch is on Zoom doesn’t mean you get to stay in your PJ’s. So first, raise your camera. Get it up on a stack of books so you’re not craning over the computer. I’ve actually been Zoom pitching on my feet to give it a little more energy. Second, make a slideshow. If illustrating your pitch was important before, in these Zoom times it’s become essential.
As much as you can try to command execs’ attention, you’re still in a little box and they’ve got oodles of distractions around their monitors. And psst… pro tip: have the execs do the side-by-side split-screen function in Zoom while also keeping it on speaker mode. That way you and your slideshow are sharing equal weight on the screen, and you’re blocking out the shots of the other people on the call. Now go sell your shit!” ~ Zach Ayers, staffed on AMERICAN SOUL (BET), STATE OF AFFAIRS (NBC), and SIREN (Freeform)
We hope this advice helps you as we continue to make socially distant Television in these strange times. Now stay safe, stay healthy, and go (virtually) wow those execs. We can’t wait to hear your creative and professional success stories as we navigate this pandemic together.