paying to pitch

There are lots of sites and services that charge writers or filmmakers for the opportunity to “pitch” their projects. And there are just as many filmmakers and writers who decry the practice as an outright scam focused on simply taking the money of starry-eyed newbies with no intention of ever really making their movie (see the recent Nehst Studios post).

Sometimes those same writers and filmmakers pay for pitch sessions as adjuncts to seminars, festivals and etc, like the Great American Pitchfest. Unknown writers put out hundreds of dollars, maybe a couple thousand when you include travel lodging and food, to go to the Pitchfest in LA. They get to pitch their unknown project(s) to a bunch of “producers”, some of whom are legit, some of whom possibly are not, none of whom have ever heard of said writer, or have ever shown any interest in his work. They only agree to hear his pitch because he PAID. And many such writers seem to think this is a great opportunity, completely legitimate, money well spent, an investment in their careers, etc.

I still don’t understand why some folks insist that a Pitchfest makes sense, but when ONE producer or website makes the same offer, it’s a scam. It may be a scam, if that particular producer is a thief. But why is it by definition a “scam”, when a Pitchfest is a legitimate “opportunity”?

I’d love to hear examples and experiences about Pitchfest-esque events, individual producers/agents/managers who charge for pitch sessions, and online sites that charge to connect you with pitching opportunities.

And I’ll be writing a comparative blog soon on sites like VirtualPitchFest.com, GreenWriter.org, InkTip.com and ScriptStork.com, who charge (or not) to host your projects in the hopes of connecting you with a legitimate producer.

12 thoughts on “paying to pitch

  1. This is the sort of common response I have gotten after submitting to vitualpitchfest managers, agents etc. Sometimes I get a response in such a short amount of time, it would seem the pitch wasn’t even read. As a result of this, I’m questioning the validity of this pay to pictch/ Virtual Pitch Fest game…as it seems shady to me. Any one care to comment?

    Pro Response:
    No thanks, but thank you for submitting!

    Explanations and comments (if any):

    Nothing personal, it just didn’t grab us.

  2. I pitched to NEHST Studios through their GI Pictures back in november of 2009. I had written a Series Bible for a show and that is what I uploaded as the pitch. I received a response in February of 2010 asking for any scripts I had associated with the pitch. I heard again in April that my one-hour-drama had gone through the first executive review and that they liked it very much. It was sent to the next level of executives for further approval. Just heard a couple of weeks ago that they decided to pass on the show..

    When they contacted me in Feb the script was not completed so their request got me working. I delayed sending it in to them until I felt it was well reviewed and written but in hindsight I would have had the script done and ready to go before I even pitched. When i dissected my script afterwards their notes were valid and it was light in certain areas. To me the feedback was worth the wait.

    I felt blessed to have gotten that far without an agent and will continue to submit and pitch online.

  3. Hey, Susan —

    First of all, congrats on getting that far. And keep plugging.

    As for NEHST, sounds like they gave some valuable feedback which is always worthwhile. Did you pay anything to NEHST to pitch your idea to them?

    Thanks for adding your insights!

  4. Check out http://CineSpin.com — a new site recently launched, dedicated to emerging opportunities in funding, marketing and distribution for filmmakers. It should be a great place to swap information and experience on issues like this.

  5. very interesting article, i’m writing an article about these paying websites, and i can proove they’re scams.
    Check out my blog at:
    jordantate.blogspot.com

    i’ll post the article on my blog this week, with an email, sent by an agent listed on one of these sites…Hope to help screenwriters save their money!!!

  6. I’m still evaluating VPF, and I did get several form responses almost immediately. But I did get one “bite” from a small but working production company — and signed their submission agreement.

  7. I’ve spent over $200.00 on pitchfest and had my scripts requested twice out of all of it and it led to nothing. What I found interesting is literally five seconds after sending my script an industry pro responded and it was the generic “no” I’ve had unprofessional experiences on there too where the agent was rude simply because my query was enigmatic but not long enough. I’ve had this letter checked out and edited by some reputable friends in the business and it’s very strong.

  8. Ten years ago I went to a very popular LA pitch fest (sorry, have successfully tried to forget the name). It was a dispiriting experience with about 1/3rd of the pro participants acting as if they were making good on a lost bet. The panels were not very informative and the advice major agency reps offered was flatout BS — “Just query us.” The only producer who expressed interest in one of my pitches took my promo material and went on to produce a thinly-veiled version of my idea the following year for Nickelodeon. Yes — I was shamelessly ripped off and too deep in debt and far from LA to do anything about it! Money well spent.

  9. I was going to sign up to pitch a idea for a hidden camera tv show to moviepitcher.com but then I noticed they didn’t have any proven testimonials to show past clients ideas or screenplays accepted by moviepitcher.com to validate their business as being legit and trustworthy, and now I see them as a fraud. And so does your article. If they are a fraud, then who can I trust to pitch my idea so I can get paid and assessed legit-ly?? So I don’t get caught up in spending on their scams?? Please email me devonstewart50@gmail.com. I’m Von. Thanks!

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