The most important skill any writer can have is not on the page. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I've found that the ability to pitch yourself, and your movie ideas, in a concise way is extremely powerful.

Let's be honest—as much as budgets and marketing matter, it all starts with a great story. In the competitive world of filmmaking, a pitch focused on the narrative itself is your key to grabbing a producer's attention and making them yearn to see your vision on screen.

But a compelling movie pitch isn't just about logistics—it's about selling the heart and soul of your story. So today, we're going to walk you through how to pitch a movie idea.

As Annie Savoy says in Bull Durham, "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self-awareness."

Is that relevant? Find out below.

How to Pitch a Movie Idea in Hollywood

Pitching is one of those things you just have to learn how to do by doing (like in Bull Durham).

Early in my career, I bombed so many pitches. It wasn't that I wasn't prepared. It's that I had no idea what I was doing. I went too long; I went too short, I missed the important details, it was all pretty bad.

Now, I think I'm fine.

The truth is, Zoom has made pitching so much easier, because you can read your pitch document off the screen and it seems like you're delivering a perfect monologue.

but last week, I got called to pitch in person, so that's why I am writing this now.

It still happens.

This is how I format my pitch.

Movie Idea Pitch Template

Crucial Advice on Pitching Your TV Show



When I sit down to prepare my movie pitch, I actually start by writing a treatment, so I can see the whole story laid out.

Then I use this template to pull details out of the treatment to formulate the pitch.

  1. The Personal Hook: I tell people how I came up with the idea and my personal connection to the story.
  2. Comps: I mention some movies in the genre I love and that I want this to feel like.
  3. Logline: Deliver a one-sentence distillation of your concept. Focus on your protagonist, the central conflict, and what's at stake for them—i.e. "A reclusive horror novelist plagued by terrifying visions must confront her own troubled past to stop a monstrous entity from escaping her imagination."
  4. Opening Scene: How does the movie open—I give visuals and a scene that solidifies the genre for the movie for the exec listening.
  5. Characters: I bring up my protagonist (and the antagonist) and talk about where they are when we meet them in act one.
  6. Inciting Incident: Then I jump into what sets them off on their journey.
  7. Theme: that leads me into a brief mention of the deeper message the film explores. It could be something like survival against all odds, the corrupting nature of power, the enduring power of love—you get the point.
  8. Act Two: I talk about what happens in act two, in both the plot and how it takes our lead on a journey where they are discovering more about themselves. Ands I make sure to mention a few set pieces that will be in the story.
  9. Low Point: I go into detail when it feelsl iek the character has lost everything.
  10. The Finale: Then I talk about how they get their confidence back and why, and twll what happens at the end of the movie.
After all of this, I open it up for questions. The executives usually engage in a back and forth, asking more details about the plot or clarifications about the characters or tone.

The most important part of this is that I try to keep the main pitch under 20 minutes, ideally aorund 15 minutes. And then spend the lionshare of the time doing questions at the end.

Tips for Pitching Your Movie Idea

Tips for Pitching Your Movie Idea

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Paramount Pictures

I have been using that template for a decade, and I think I'm getting better at using it as time goes by. But I wanted to include some tips for you, where you can really grab the attention of the audience, and work like an entertainer.

  • The Emotional Hook: Forget bland introductions. Your opening should spark a feeling—fear, curiosity, a thrill, or a pang of sympathy. Think "What if…" scenarios and unexpected twists of relatable ideas. Or just a hilarious story from your life.
  • Focus on Character Transformations: A plot summary is a dime a dozen. What makes your story stand out are the choices your characters make under pressure and how those choices permanently change them. Emphasize the internal struggle alongside the external conflict.
  • Paint with Words (and Sensory Details): Forget describing your film, show it. Use vivid verbs and imagery to evoke the mood and atmosphere. "Dark alleyways, the flickering neon sign, the detective's haunted eyes..." Transport them into your world.
  • Don't Forget the "Why?": Theme ties everything together. Is this a coming-of-age story wrapped in a sci-fi adventure? A revenge tale that's also a meditation on forgiveness? Name the big idea your film wrestles with.
  • It's a Performance, Not a Lecture: Practice your pitch till it flows, but maintain passion and natural inflection. This isn't a book report, it's a sales pitch for something you deeply believe in.
  • Comparisons are Key: Use Them Wisely: Sure, drop familiar movie titles, but make them insightful. Highlight the emotional impact you're chasing, not just the same genre. "It has the gritty realism of 'The Wire' mixed with the magical darkness of 'Pan's Labyrinth'."
  • Know Your Audience: If you're pitching a low-budget indie flick, don't wax poetic about explosions—emphasize the unique character journey. A big-budget concept needs that visual spectacle woven into your pitch.

All of this should come together to give you the basis to build your pitch in Hollywood.

Let me know what you think in the comments

And, as Crash Davis fromBull Durham says, "Be cocky and arrogant, even when you're getting beat. That's the secret. You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance."