Nobody has time to read a complete screenplay. You could write the best screenplay in the world but nobody will want to read it. Since Hollywood needs new stories and ideas, the fast way to evaluate a screenplay is to evaluate its pitch.
A pitch is nothing more than a short description of what your story is about. If the pitch is interesting, someone will ask for your screenplay. However, if your pitch is not interesting, nobody will want to read your screenplay.
Here are three scenarios:
- You write a lousy pitch but you have a great screenplay
- You write a great pitch and you have a lousy screenplay
- You write a great pitch and you have a great screenplay
If you write a lousy pitch, the best screenplay in the world won’t save you. You must create a compelling pitch that gets someone excited into wanting to know more.
What’s far too common is that someone will come up with a great pitch, but write a lousy screenplay. The reason why Hollywood creates so many bad movies is because the idea (pitch) was good but the execution of that idea was poor. Great pitches might get your screenplay made, but it will likely be a disappointment for everyone involved.
A far better solution is to write a great pitch and a great screenplay. Focus on creating a pitch that grabs people’s attention. Once you have a great pitch, stop!
Now is the time to write a great screenplay to back up your great pitch. It’s far too common for someone to have a great pitch but a lousy screenplay. When that happens, the whole idea either gets shelved or studios bring in another writer to write the screenplay.
That other writer likely won’t have the same passion and motivation that you have, which means your idea will likely get warped and changed to the point where you might not even recognize it at all.
The main point is that if you can’t back up your great pitch with an equally great screenplay, your chances of success drop dramatically.
Focus on writing a great screenplay and then focus on creating the best pitch for that screenplay as possible. It won’t do you any good to have a great pitch and a lousy screenplay and it won’t help to have a lousy pitch and a great screenplay.
You need a great pitch and a great screenplay. A great pitch gets you in the door but if you want to stay there, you need a great screenplay to keep you there.
Don’t overlook your screenplay. Ultimately, the quality of your screenplay will be far more important than a great pitch that leads nowhere.