Written By Katrina Medoff -- Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Moonshot Initiative

I’ve been a fly on the wall for over 120 pitch meetings with execs at HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, Warner Bros., Comedy Central, and many more—and it’s been a master class in pitching.

How did I find myself in this unique position?

I’m the co-founder of Moonshot Initiative, a nonprofit that works toward gender equity in film and TV. In 2021, we introduced our Moonshot Pilot Accelerator, a program that makes career-changing connections for our talented group of emerging TV writers while aiming to increase representation of women and non-binary people on screen.

Once we select our fellows out of hundreds of applications and get their scripts vetted by high-level TV writers, we spend three weeks helping them prepare and polish their pitches.

Finally, during Pitch Week, we set up around six to 10 one-on-one meetings for each fellow with studios, production companies, producers, agents, and managers. Our team facilitates these meetings while watching off-camera.

Read below for what I learned from sitting in on 120 pitch meetings with the biggest companies in the business.

1. Give the Exec Insight Into Who You Are as a Person

Julia Roberts Money Monster

Money Monster


There are many opportunities to bring your personality into the meeting. First, make use of the small talk at the beginning. Most people end up chatting about the weather in LA—but even that’s something you could make more personal.

For example, the exec might ask, “Can you believe all the rain we’ve been having?” Instead of responding, “Yeah, it’s crazy,” you might say, “I’m getting a little tired of it, but my pug hates it. I have to stuff his paws into rain booties and he always looks so angry about it.”

The exec might then share something about her cat or her sister’s poodle, and she’ll begin to see you not just as a writer, but as a well-rounded person.

Most importantly, you’ll want to share your personal connection to your project and make it clear why you’re the person to tell this story. Often, your connection to the project will serve as a natural transition from small talk to the pitch itself. This portion of your pitch is incredibly compelling, because your personality shines through the most when you’re nerding out about something special to you.

2. Every Development Exec Runs Their Meetings a Little Differently—Be Prepared for Anything

Akela Cooper on writing 'M3GAN'



While you pitch, some execs will be really responsive, laughing at jokes or gasping when there’s a big plot twist. They may even interrupt your pitch to ask you questions.

Other execs may be harder to read, especially if they’re focused on taking notes. Either way, don’t read into their reactions.

We prepare our fellows for Pitch Week by bringing in a showrunner, a development exec, and a speech coach to provide feedback on their pitches from various perspectives. In between the virtual meetups for our program, we have the fellows practice their pitches over and over and over again with each other. We have them simulate different situations with their partners, from looking disinterested to interrupting constantly. We make sure they ask each other tons of questions after the pitch so that they’re used to thinking on their feet.

By the end of Pitch Week, after they’ve each had between six to 10 one-on-one meetings, they leave with a much better understanding of how execs’ responses and questions may vary.

3. You’re Not the Best Judge of How You Pitched

Why Use Parallel Storylines in Your Writing?

Kill Bill


If you leave a meeting unhappy with your performance, remember that you’re not in a position to be objective.

One of our fellows texted me after her first pitch meeting, “I've just been panicking for 10 minutes that they didn't ask any questions.”

I responded that the exec did, in fact, ask a bunch of questions, which our fellow answered intelligently! She had simply blacked out from nervousness. If you’re struggling to remember how your meeting went, trust that you practiced so much that you could do it perfectly in your sleep.

Another fellow texted me after one meeting that she bombed the pitch. I replied that I actually thought it was one of her best pitches of the week—it’s just that this exec was less vocal about laughing since she was concentrating on her notes.

But the exec was like that for everyone! If you don’t have the context of how an exec normally operates, you might take things personally. Instead, assume the exec is completely on board, because that’s the belief that will help you perform the best.

4. Go Into the Meeting Knowing That Your Work is Valuable

How to Write a Screenplay: Act Two

Ocean's 8

Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s hard to have a genuine conversation with an executive if you feel like the exec is the gatekeeper and your entire career hinges on this one pitch meeting. It makes for a much better dynamic when you’re not creating a power imbalance in your head.

During our Pilot Accelerator, speech coach Samara Bay shared the fantastic tip of “hosting” the meeting as if you were hosting a dinner party. In other words, make people feel like they’re in good hands and that they’re going to be taken care of.For example, if there’s a lull after the small talk at the beginning of your meeting, you could confidently say, “I’ll just jump right in” rather than mumbling, “So … do you want me to start my pitch? Or do you want to talk more?” This mindset is a great way to calm your nerves and add confidence.

5. Development Execs are Human, Too


Terminator: Dark Fate

Paramount Pictures

When we caught up with one of our fellows after last year’s Pitch Week, she told us the experience had made her realize that execs are just people—and this realization was a huge relief!

Often, writers see execs as the people who say “no” and who prevent their work from moving forward, but execs can also be your biggest ally for getting more eyes on your project. They’re usually friendly and creative, and they want to find a project they’re excited about.

They were drawn to storytelling for the same reasons you were.

Applications for the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator are open through the extended deadline of April 21, 2024.

Learn more and read the FAQ on Moonshot’s website, and submit via FilmFreeway.

Listen to No Film School’s recent episode about Moonshot Initiative here for more pitching advice.