So you want to make a movie, huh? Then you might want to learn how to write a pitch deck presentation.
Perhaps you have a masterpiece of a script with an incredibly unique premise that you have dedicated countless hours on rewrites? Or you run a production company and look for potential investors to help you out with the project.
Regardless of your circumstance, if you are set to make a film, you will probably want to communicate your vision and inform interested parties about your movie. This is why you need to learn how to write a pitch deck.
In this article, we will give you a practical introduction to what a pitch deck is, provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to create one, and share all the valuable techniques worth knowing when you start working on your pitch deck.
What is a Pitch Deck?
In short, a pitch deck is a short demonstration document that is used by screenwriters, producers, or directors to pitch the film to the financiers, investors, actors, studios, and many other people who might somewhat be involved in your project.
Visually, the pitch deck looks like a presentation/lookbook that is usually around 15-25 pages in length. There are some cases of pitch decks being up to approximately 80 pages, but these are used when producers are dealing with high-concept films, and as a rule of thumb, the shorter, the better it is. It is good to have your pitch deck printed and bound, but you might want to stick to the digital version in times of an ongoing pandemic.
Think of your pitch deck as a visual component that quickly introduces whoever is looking at it into the world of the film you are trying to make. Apart from introducing the synopsis and sharing the film’s visual aesthetic, it is vital to include information about the creative team behind the project, themes, and how these ideas are going to be executed.
The most important questions that the pitch deck should answer are:
- What is the movie that you are making?
- Who is making this movie?
- How is this movie going to be made?
Another vital element to consider is the understanding of who is the target audience for your pitch deck. For instance, if you are approaching a potential investor, it is crucial to insert more finance-related information into the pitch deck (although not too much since there are other documents that investors require, such as business plan, ROI outline, and more). When you are approaching a talent you want to attach to the project, it is essential to include more elements about characters and the film’s visual look.
We suggest creating a general version of your pitch deck that can be used universally. Once you get a particular request, you can always add some extra pages.
Once you find answers to these questions, you can outline and gather all the essential information you need on how to write a pitch deck.
Pitch Deck Structure
Title Page (page 1)
The first impression always matters; the same concept applies to pitch decks. Your title page is the first thing that your reader will see once they receive your pitch deck.
To write a truly effective pitch deck, you should have a title page that not only includes your name and the title of your film but also conveys the atmosphere and the tone of your film. It is good to have some form of concept art, such as a concept poster, ready so that you can insert it on the front page. If not, it is fine, but still, try to include some visual material that reflects the authenticity of the film’s world.
Find creative ways to arrange all the elements of the title page, such as your name, film’s title, and concept art, so it reflects the aesthetic, feels, and genre of your film that will follow throughout the pitch deck.
Logline / Story / Characters (pages 2 – 6)
The story is the nucleus of every film. That is why it is the first section that will follow your title page in the pitch deck. These are the informational pages that will dictate whether your reader will be interested in diving into the entire feature-length script or not.
When you write your pitch deck, make sure you include your logline first since it will give your reader the initial impression of your film. In most cases, if the logline is well-written, the reader will explore the pitch deck further. Do not waste more than a page on your logline.
Spend some time writing the synopsis of your story out. Make sure it is written in prose, sounds exciting, and includes all the significant storylines, plot devices, and characters. Do not try to make it super-detailed, and aim for around 1-2 pages of synopsis. In some cases, you might want to purposefully leave specific plot points unspecified to grasp the interest of your reader.
Even when you write a summarized version of your plot, consider screenwriting structures. In your story section, it is essential to include most of the narrative elements, such as inciting incident, midpoint, resolution, etc., in your story section.
Sometimes, you might also do a page or two that briefly describes the characters of your story. These might be essential to your pitch deck if you would like to attach bigger actors. In particular, if your story is largely character-driven, it might be a good idea to consider including a character section.
Make sure you include illustrations, stills, and other visual material that will enhance your storytelling and aid your reader’s imagination.
Visual Aesthetic: Tone & Feel (pages 7 – 10)
The next part of your pitch deck is the one that will require the most research for the visual cues. This is your chance to further emphasize and present the visual aesthetic of your film to your reader.
In this section, it is essentially important to include as much reference to other films and artworks. For many filmmakers, taking an already existing material and presenting it in a pitch deck or a lookbook is the first form of pre-visualization. This is a very powerful technique as well since now you have a visual reference to what you would like your film to look like.
The Art of Finding the Right Visual Cues
Finding the proper visual cues can determine the overall effectiveness of your pitch deck. Your visual components (whether they are stills from another film, photographs, art pieces, or something else) must be as close to your vision as possible. Therefore, before finding visual cues, make sure you understand what movie you are trying to make?
Try the pre-visualization technique in your head, where you allow the free-flow association of your imagination to take over. Concentrate on the visuals that your mind is projecting, take notes of what you imagine, try to find the correct color and atmosphere of what you just experienced. After, create a shortlist of other films, art pieces, plays, video games, etc., that have a similar tone to what you just have seen.
Start doing your research online and find the correct stills & other forms of inspiration images that suit your vision the most. There are a lot of websites that you can use to assist you in this endeavor. We recommend using IMDb, FILMGRAB, and Pinterest.
Finding the right visual cues is one of the most significant parts of crafting a good pitch deck, and therefore it must be approached with great care and consideration.
Techniques and Execution (10 – 12)
Now that you are done with the aesthetics part of your pitch deck, it is time to bring it one level up and demonstrate how you want to achieve your vision.
In this part of the pitch deck, it is appropriate to talk about what sort of gear, methodologies, lenses, cameras, etc., you will use for your production. You will also need to include visual references, but instead of conveying the feel of your film, it should demonstrate more practical elements of your movie such as set pieces, props, equipment, locations, etc.
This section is an excellent opportunity to tell your readers more about the world and give an idea of how challenging the production might be, how much it is going to cost, and how it is expected to be shot.
Creative Team (12-15)
The best way to end your pitch deck is to tell your reader who is the creative team behind the project. This is a great section to get personal, tell the story of this project, and, most importantly, why you have set to do this project in the first place. If you want to get more people on board or secure investment, you need to establish trust.
Try to include all the key players who are already attached. Whether it is an award-winning Director of Photography or an A-list actor, try to briefly highlight their strengths and achievements and specify their roles & positions in your film.
Pitch Deck Purpose
As we have already mentioned, Pitch Deck is a multi-purposed document that can be used to approach different kinds of people that may be somehow involved with the production of your film. On a surface level, it helps anyone who might somewhat be interested in the project to learn more about it.
The most common purpose of the pitch deck is to bring in potential investors or try to get to sell your script. Your financiers will want to see other supplemental material that is mainly cost-oriented, which projects your ROI and the risk for the investors. This is why none of the financial information is relevant to the pitch deck. Yet having said that, it is important to indicate what will be the scope of your film, and based on the elements that you include in your pitch deck, it will become clear how much it will cost roughly. For instance, specify if you plan to use CGI, expensive set pieces, or period costumes. This will give your investors a somewhat idea of how much your project will cost them to make.
Another common use of a pitch deck is to communicate your visual ideas with different departments and talent throughout the production. For example, when you share your pitch deck with a cinematographer, you share how you would like your film to look visually, what tone you want to have, and how to achieve it. In most cases, the cinematographer will take your pitch deck as source material and will, later on, produce something that is known as a lookbook, which is a more detailed document based on the visual aesthetic section of your pitch deck.
It is important to have a pitch deck ready regardless since you never know who might request it from you and at which point throughout the production. Keep that in mind when thinking about how to write your next pitch deck.
Tips and Suggestions
Keep it Short
The shorter, the merrier. Pitch decks are not your screenplays. Neither are they your business plans nor a storyboard. The key to writing a successful pitch deck is to keep it as short as possible. Nobody wants to flick through your pitch deck for hours to understand your concept. Try to make it concise and straight to the point.
Highlight the Project’s Uniqueness
When working on your pitch deck, it is the appropriate place to show off your creativity and share your vision with the world. Whether it is investors, talent, or distributors, your goal is to gain their trust, and therefore it is principally essential to make them believe in your vision and the uniqueness of your film.
Try to understand: what is it that makes my film so special? Once you answer these questions, try to find creative ways to communicate them to your potential audience.
If you ever need to emphasize the uniqueness of your project, a pitch deck would be the most appropriate place to do so. Be creative, and try to design your pitch deck the same way you would want your movie to look and feel.
Pay Attention to the Design
Honestly, if you are serious about making this film, you have already thought about your budgeting. If you are not that good with graphic design and creating digital elements, we recommend hiring a visual artist or asking someone you know to help you out. Remember, the way your pitch deck is designed is incredibly important since this is the first thing that many of your potential stakeholders will see about your film.
The Pitch deck is one of the most important documents for filmmakers regardless of their experience, financial situation, and other already prepared documents.
While it is a time-consuming (just like most other tasks in the film industry) pitch deck is definitely worth the effort; it helps filmmakers throughout all the sections of production, as it communicates the vision and establishes the main aspects of the film.
There is no right or wrong way on how to write your pitch deck presentation, but make sure that you include all the above-mentioned elements into it. And don’t forget that your uniqueness and creativity in design is really what is going to make your pitch deck stand out.