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Monday, June 09, 2008

Q & A: My Visual Pitch - Promoting Your Work

Your spec has had as much coverage as it can take: it's polished, perfect - and ready for sending out there. One problem - you have no agent or manager, you have few contacts, you can't get yourself to Cannes or Cheltenham because you've got to work the dreaded day job. So what do you do? Well, My Visual Pitch may just be for you! I talked to big boss Pamela at MVP about the company's origins and what it does - and if you fancy another special Bang2write discount, don't forget to check out the bottom of this post! Enjoy...
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Can MVP promise me a million quid sale for my spec, a bling lifestyle, a trophy spouse, a stint in rehab and a comeback movie a decade later?

Are we talking British pounds sterling or US Dollars?? Okay, obviously, My Visual Pitch can't promise any such thing (though if you want to bypass the cash, bling and honies and just head right into rehab, we can refer you to the A-list hot spots at no extra charge). But we can promise you maximum exposure for your work.

Here's why: first, the very nature of a Visual Pitch means that you can increase your chances of getting noticed. That's because, according to a recent study cited by online marketing guru Mitch Myerson, a person's response to what you're selling is 55 percent visual, 38 percent vocal and seven percent verbal. Did you get that? 55 per cent visual. That's huge. And if you think about it, using a Visual Pitch to sell to a visual medium just makes sense. Second, because we are a subscription-based site, we attract only serious, relevant content, which makes every project on MVP visible and accessible to industry pros who are constantly on the lookout for the Next Big Thing.

Now, compare that to social networking sites, like YouTube or MySpace, where over 100million people have content available, over 14 million of whom register as artists. That means that, if you're relying on these sites to get discovered, you've got a 1 in 100 million chance of being seen. And I don't know where you live, but with odds such as these, I can guarantee you've got a better chance of winning the lottery in your country than being discovered on MySpace.

In my experience, artists who are serious about their careers tend to put their money where their mouths are, which means that subscription-based sites such as My Visual Pitch provide a natural barrier to entry that makes it a true marketplace for serious, career-minded buyers and project-hungry sellers looking to do business.

There are other websites online where scribes' work can be showcased including yours. Why should they choose MVP?

The visual aspect of using a Visual Pitch, as mentioned above, is one of the most compelling part of the My Visual Pitch.com story, but it's not the only one. In fact, uploading a Visual Pitch (or logline — we do take both), is just the beginning of the MVP experience. That's because we actively market our writers to our list of over 750 qualified industry professionals through our weekly newsletter, "In the Spotlight," showcasing scripts that we feel should be front and center on an industry pro's busy agenda.

I think this combination of using an engaging, memorable and compelling approach to bringing a screenplay alive to drop that Hollywood professional right into the center of the action and then promoting artists directly to the industry is absolute dynamite - and we've got the success stories to prove it. In fact, three of our artists are now in production on their films. Others have written in to say that they've landed an agent, and still others that they have received read requests from major studios and prodcos.

What's more, the best is yet to come. We are in the planning stages for the next iteration of MVP, which will give site visitors and artists even more control over the material on the site and which will further distinguish MVP as the go-to marketplace for buyers and sellers in the biz. I can't say much more because we'll be offering some first-to-market features, but invite me back in six months, and I'll give you the full scoop! Suffice to say that right now, artists who want to be at the cutting edge of the online pitching revolution would do well to get on board now.

There are some writers who feel jaded or daunted by the amount of screenwriting services online and some have even gone so far as to claim that such services are a waste of money or even a scam. What would you say to these people?

Two things: First, buyer beware. As with anything, you have to do your research. Don't just take a "scatter shot" approach to pitching, or jump on the online pitching band wagon just because everyone is doing it. Sure, it's probably the best use of your time and money (as compared to postal mailings, cold calling, or pitching in person), but not all services are created equal. I would argue that MVP works because our corporate team consists of people from both sides of aisle, including screenwriters and development executives, and we constantly solicit feedback from our artists and industry pros, so we know what works and what doesn't. But do your homework, and see what resonates with you and your project.

Second: if you're not pitching online, you're kinda missing a very big boat. Today more than every before, the tail is wagging the dog in this industry. What do I mean by that? 50 years ago, content was controlled here in the US by three networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) and a handful of studios (I imagine the BBC channels were probably equivalent in reach and power). Then came cable, with first 50, then 1,000 channels, which radically shifted the way in which entertainment was consumed. Now, with the explosion of independently-produced television shows and movies, as well as user-generated content sites like YouTube, there's another revolution going on in which the artist and the consumer are determining what is being viewed, and how.

Content, which has always been king and which was once under the rule of a very few number of people, is now governed by writers, musicians, actors, and independent producers — and those they entertain. Online pitching has been around for about 10 years now, but Visual Pitching is the new kid on the Internet block, representing the convergence of social media, technology, and creativity.

What kind of stories (or elements of stories) do you think personally makes the best visual pitches?

We're creating a lot of Visual Pitches these days and have had to expand our internal talent pool to accommodate the demand for our services, so naturally we handle every genre imaginable. But I don't think you can categorically say that any one genre makes the best Visual Pitch (though some of our creatives prefer to work in certain genres). What makes a Visual Pitch work is that it evokes an emotional response. That's because, unlike loglines, Visual Pitches can use still and video imagery, animation, music, special effects, and voiceover to stir the imagination and take the viewer on a journey which, if the Visual Pitch is done correctly, ultimately results in a request to read the script.

I remember sitting in a meeting recently in which we played a Visual Pitch that caught the eye of an executive at Sony Pictures within 24 hours of it going up on our site. At one point in the pitch, which was for a thriller script, when we revealed the whole concept upon which the screenplay turns, one of the people in the room gasped out loud. It was perfect. Exactly what we wanted the pitch to do — and this was just for the screenplay!

Any Visual Pitch that can elicit that kind of response — whether it's for a comedy, or horror, or drama, or documentary — is the best Visual Pitch. The secret's in the sauce!

How did MVP begin?

How much time do we have? I have been a screenwriter for the past 10 years and have had great success so far with my career... Up until a point. I have had a script turned into a film for a historical museum, have optioned spec scripts, had material developed by A-list prod. co.s for the big screen, landed a fantastic manager, etc, etc... And then, always and without exception... hit the wall. Something always came along to throw a wrench in my progress and I seemed to end up back at square one.

About two years ago now, I seriously began considering hanging it all up. I was at the point where I had to ask myself: what else? What else could I do to feel as alive as I do when I write? What was my calling, if this wasn't it. It was a very dark day for me and probably the lowest I've ever gone in my life.

I think I must have scared the poop out of my husband (he likes it when I do things like shower, dress and feed myself. Also? Crying jags kind of throw him for a loop), who decided that I just needed technology to jump start my creativity and went out and purchased a Macbook Pro. You know, just to get me back on track. When he presented me with the computer, I didn't know whether to hug him or slug him. Because of course, it meant I couldn't give up. He was recommitting me to my passion, and was not about to let me off the hook.

So, after I showered, dressed and had something to eat, I circled the Mac, took it for a test drive, and eventually came across a little built-in program called iMovie, which was the answer to a question I'd been asking myself for a while now: how can I make my material rise above, stand out in a crowded marketplace, be noticed?

I began playing with the idea of doing a mini-trailer for one of my scripts, and was immediately hooked. iMovie is fun and easy, and a huge addiction, so it wasn't long till I had something to show. I sent my first Visual Pitch to my sister, who is now MVP's Senior VP of Creative and the talent behind the bulk of the Visual Pitches you now see on the site. Then, I sent it to my manager, and said, let's go. Get this out to everyone on your list. This Visual Pitch is gonna get us noticed. But my manager (and sister, and um, husband, too, if I'm giving credit) all saw the potential in the Visual Pitch, and the ways in which it could change the way the entertainment business does business, and encouraged me to take the time to build a service that artists everywhere could use to show — not tell — their story. And here we are today.

Right now, we have artists from across the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe uploading content or using our Visual Pitch creative service. We have been viewed by people every continent except Antarctica (but I'm working on that), have been featured in podcasts, blogs, magazines, etc., etc. It's very exciting, because we're providing access, which is creating a marketplace, which is putting artists in the driver's seat of their careers.
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Thanks Pamela!

Want to create your own Visual Pitch? It's easy, fast and free when you use stock photography and video found on the Internet and built-in editing software on your Mac or PC. MVP has listed all the resources you'll ever need here.

Don't want to do it yourself? The My Visual Pitch.com creative team can turn your script or movie idea into a brief, engaging, and memorable Visual Pitch in a couple of days. To learn more, go here.

If you're interested in My Visual Pitch and what it can do, check out these Bangwriters who have had the MVP treatment applied to their scripts:

My horror/action adventure, "Eclipse"

Ron Shears' animated script for Children, "The Adventures of Tae And Kwon"

Pete Spencer's political satire, "The Last British Execution"

Elinor's dark femme fatale style horror, "Penny Dreadful"

Update: Corey Hood's "The Pilot"

DON'T FORGET: If you prefer the "old fashioned" logline upload approach, My Visual Pitch deal with those too! Click here to get started.

ALSO: as a special offer to all Bang2writers who engage MVP to construct a pitch on their behalf, My Visual Pitch are offering a free six month subscription to their site - that's a freebie worth $59. Just mention you saw this offer on Write Here, Write Now.

BEST OF LUCK WITH THOSE PROJECTS! And as always, if you do get a Visual Pitch done, let me know and I'll add it to this list here.

6 comments:

Paul M said...

This is a great way to bring the essence of your screenplay into a visual taster.

Although, I think it must be done well or could have the opposite effect so desired.

Nice one.

Lucy said...

Well said Paul - and I am in the unusual position of having read ALL of the screenplays that have Visual Pitches on the list in this post and can vouch that MVP have captured all of them splendidly I think!

Elinor said...

I second that. I was knocked out by their pitch for PD. Great interview!

evil twinz said...

Hey I think these work - all those look well interesting. Too bad I'm not a high powered exec! But with the internet on the go 24/7 *someone* has to see 'em, *some time*, right?

Ron Shears said...

I really cannot thank Lucy enuff suggesting I contact mvp. I plonked 2 synopses down their throats, and a lass called Susan has composed a superb pitch of Tae and Kwon. I can't wait for her composition of Saddle the Wind. Now the real problems emerge; which of about 20 other scripts do I choose for them?
I confess I was a trifle wary for all the reasons we know. To cap it all I mucked up my payments. Visa registered 9 attempts. We needed the the money to journey to England to our sons wedding. Assurances from Pamela that they saw my cock-up and stopped ALL visa payments to them at the gate. Meant we slept soundly that night.
A trustworthy, friendly, bloody good outfit. Thanks. Ron.

Lucy said...

Cheers Elinor.

Evil - you misunderstand, these pitches aren't just for the writers to plonk up on Youtube (though that's a handy thing to do!), MVP market the pitches THEMSELVES to 750 contacts they have themselves too! Can't say fairer than that.

Ron - MVP go out of their way to help their clients it seems, so I'm not surprised you got such good service on your credit card problems. Bloody cards hey - I've just been on the phone to my bank, turns out some git has been using my hub's card in Sri Lanka and Canada! I don't think so somehow...