The One Page Pitch Doc is something that crops up in a lot of Adrian Mead's postings on places like Shooting People, so I was very keen to hear what he said about this on Saturday.
As Adrian says, no one is ever scared of one page. As a Reader, I can relate to this. Every time I get a load of scripts delivered, the first thing I do is check page count. If it's over 105, I get palpitations. For some reason, those extra 15-20 pages, take more time than the rest of the script put together. Or maybe that's just my imagination. But in any case: BIG SCRIPTS GIVE PEOPLE THE WILLIES (oo-er). One page then? Easyeeee. It's all in the psychology.
So what should make up your One Page Pitch Doc? Well, it should be continuous prose, for starters. Adrian was keen to stress that you should talk in visuals - in others words, choose your words carefully, using ones that have resonance and sum up the action of the piece. Also, simplicity is key. Much good advice. So often I find the problem new writers have in conveying the themes and even story in the script are to do with coherency - the infamous WTF? Draft: in other words, they've been too ambitious, make it too complicated.
What else should go in, then?
The title, obviously. What it actually is - is this a feature? A 60 min drama? A short? A series? Lots of writers forget to include this information, because they know it and forget that others won't. Make sure your Reader knows the genre and who your protagonist is. You should include your protagonist's goal ("wants vs. need" - sometimes these two don't always go together!) and indeed, what their obstacles are, including of course, the antagonist. Finally, sum up its theme in this section - what is it all about? Why are we watching this story, at this particular time?
Then - and this was the most interesting idea I found - jump straight to the end. If that first section was the set up, or Act One, go straight to Act 3. DON'T do Act 2, don't tell the story in minute detail. This is a pitch, not a treatment: hold something back. People who'll read this want the set up and how it ends...Everything else is superfluous. Hook them in, make them WANT to read your script.
And that's it. Very interesting. This is not the way I've been writing my pitch docs - I was taught a different way at university - but I'm willing to give this version a try. And if I get optioned out of it, I'm calling my next kid Adrian.
Or maybe not... ; )