How the 'Birds of Prey' Director Pitched Her Way into the DC Universe

Learn how Cathy Yan pitched her way into the director's chair for one of the most anticipated DC Comics films of 2020. 

After lukewarm critical reviews but a box office bonanza, Suicide Squad had a lot of figuring out to do. But one thing everyone loved from the film was Margot Robbie's portrayal of Harley Quinn. She was fun, crazy, and unpredictable. It felt like the role she was born to play. 

So when Robbie's character got her spinoff movie, she and the other producers of the project knew they'd need someone capable and exciting to help her make the best film possible. 

Enter Cathy Yan. 

Cathy had directed a Sundance movie called Dead Pigs that was loved by audience members, particularly Margot Robbie. 

But what made Robbie think Yan was ready to take on Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn, which is a helluva title and a ton of pressure for even a seasoned filmmaker. 

The answer was Yan's pitch. 

How the 'Birds of Prey' Director Pitched Her Way into the DC Universe 

In a recent interview with Collider, Yan spoke about her process when it came to landing the movie. 

"I put together like a little pitch deck that just had all my thoughts about the aesthetics of the film and the world. And then I also kind of created a sizzle reel, but it wasn’t like a sizzle reel where it just was like here’s a reference and here’s another reference and here’s another reference. But to me the story’s super compelling and personal to me because it is about emancipation, about women sort of like almost being competitive with one another and bringing each other down, but also because of our own inabilities I think to feel so powerless and like the stranglehold that is the patriarchy. And so I feel like I very much have gone through that arc myself, so and I’ve seen it with especially I think set against the backdrop of like #MeToo and what has been happening in our industry in the last few years. So that definitely infiltrated its way into my pitch as well. So that for me this film was so much more than a superhero film about like and the first girl gang film or any of that. But it really has a compelling narrative and theme to it that is very, very personal to me."

The main takeaway from this quote is that executives need to see why you're the only person for this job. 

It might seem trite, but everyone in Hollywood wants these kinds of jobs. So if you're going into ap itch and have an opportunity, prove to them why your story is the one that needs to connect. Why does your vision separate you from the pack? 

I like to ease into these gigs with a personal anecdote that might relate to the overall theme. 

While your particular job might not have "emancipation" in the title, find that emblematic word that encapsulates everything. 

Is your story about freedom? Anger? Faith? Courage? 

Boil it down and then relate it to yourself. 

What can audiences learn from what you have to offer?

What problem in the world can you attack with the story you'll write or direct for them? 

So to sum it up...make it all about you. 

Now go kick some ass! 

What's next? Get your elevator pitch ready!

Learning how to write an elevator pitch is a skill you can’t put a price on. Why? Because we’ve all been there when lightning strikes and that excellent idea comes to life in our minds.

Click to learn more! 

 

Your Comment

6 Comments

Please, let this not be another woke movie that will bomb at the box office.

December 26, 2019 at 1:31PM

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Pavel Tsvetkov
Producer/Director/Writer
257

DC fans are so desperate to watch any movie set in their universe, that it's really unlikely it will ever bomb, unless by bombing you mean earning $700M+ like Suicide Squad did while having 6 star rating at best, which moneymakers involved would totally love regardless of the scores.

December 28, 2019 at 5:32AM

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Frytech
198

I actually enjoyed most of the DC movies to this point.
This may the single worst trailer I've ever seen.
I will never see this garbage-fest.

December 31, 2019 at 9:00AM

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Reply

This will end up just like the female Ghostbusters.

December 27, 2019 at 8:01AM

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Cooper
201

Based on that "pitch quote" it probably will, even though the trailer looks at least alright.

December 28, 2019 at 5:25AM

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Frytech
198

Studios are learning woke doesn’t sell. It turns out, people go to the movies to be entertained, not lectured.

I didn’t come up with that last part, I got it from a YouTuber named “The Critical Drinker.” If you dislike woke movies and shows as much as I do, you’ll love the The Critical Drinker. I’m not affiliated with him in any way, just a fan of him.

January 2, 2020 at 2:16PM

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K W
839