Pitch (filmmaking)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Though a pitch is normally produced through a script or screenplay, certain film and television productions (particularly animated) use the conventional approach of a storyboard, such as this panel from the pitch for the animated series Phineas and Ferb.

A pitch is a concise verbal (and sometimes visual) presentation of an idea for a film or TV series generally made by a screenwriter or film director to a film producer or studio executive in the hope of attracting development finance to pay for the writing of a screenplay.[1]

"Pitch" is a contraction of the phrase "sales pitch".[2] A pitch is used throughout different stages of production, such as casting and distribution, as well as to urge film producers to further fund a project.[1] Filmmakers who devise a pitch tend to manufacture a production package, which is handed out to each potential investor during the pitch. The package contains the basic information for the filmmaker's project, such as a plot synopsis and budgeting values.[3]

Pitches are also heavily used in the television industry. Though these kinds of pitches usually are made via a script or teleplay, certain animated productions use a storyboard. This novel approach has been taken in such animated programs as Phineas and Ferb. Co-founders of the project, Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, needed to convince overseas executives for The Walt Disney Company to greenlight the series, so they drew a storyboard and recorded it as a reel. They then mixed it and dubbed it over with sound effects, voices, and narrative, then sent the recording to the executives, who accepted it.[4]

Television pitches can also be devised by the network or company that produces the program.[5] Certain networks are pitched the idea of including a character in a series in order to boost ratings. Such pitches have been used with "Oliver" in The Brady Bunch and "Luke" on Growing Pains.[6] Networks also try to force their ideas on series' producers through their pitches, though their approach is business-oriented and their ideas are generally not favored by writers and viewers.[7] In 1992, the crew of the animated series Rugrats was approached by Nickelodeon, which pitched the idea of a Rugrats Hanukkah special. Paul Germain, co-creator of the series, responded by suggesting a passover special, which he dubbed a "funny idea."[5] After they closed production for that special, they began considering the Hanukkah special and eventually created it in 1996 as the episode "A Rugrats Chanukah."[5][8]


  1. ^ a b Steiff, p. 58
  2. ^ Karg, Van Over, Sutherland, p. 84
  3. ^ Karg, Van Over, Sutherland, p. 86
  4. ^ Povenmire, Dan (2008). "Original Pitch" featurette, from Volume 1: "The Fast and the Phineas" (DVD). Buena Vista Home Entertainment. 
  5. ^ a b c Swartz, Mimi (1998-10-30). "How raising the Rugrats children became as difficult as the real thing". The New Yorker. p. 62. 
  6. ^ Alberti, p. 144
  7. ^ Alberti, pp. 145–147
  8. ^ Ribadeneira, Diego (1996-12-05). "Rites of Chanukah reach many". The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts). 

Further reading[edit]

  • Alberti, John (ed.) (2003). Leaving Springfield: "The Simpsons" and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2849-0. 
  • Karg, Barbara; Van Over, Jim; and Sutherland, Rick (2007). The everything filmmaking book: from script to premiere-- a complete guide to putting your vision on the screen. Everything Books. ISBN 1-59869-092-2. 
  • Steiff, Josef (2005). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking. Penguin Group. ISBN 1-59257-390-8.