film clapper board

What is a pitch deck for a film?

By BBC Maestro

If you’re an aspiring filmmaker hoping to get your movies out there and seen by the masses, there are a few things you need to know how to do to give your film the best shot of success – and one of these is a pitch deck. 

Find out how to put together pitch decks and why they’re so important for filmmakers in this article, with useful insights from some of our BBC Maestro experts. 

What is a pitch deck?

First things first: what are pitch decks? Simply, it’s a visual aid to help you explain what your film is about to potential investors, with the aim of selling it to them! If you’ve had an initial conversation about your film and they liked what they heard, it’s likely you’ll then be asked for a pitch deck to present your film in more detail. 

Why are film pitches important?

You might have written the best script in the world, but producers simply don’t have time to read through entire scripts, especially those from new filmmakers – and they can’t just take you at your word, either.

That means you need a way to convince them how amazing your movie is going to be, in a visually pleasing way that isn’t going to take up too much of their valuable time.

Enter the film pitch.

While screenplays showcase what will happen in your film, from the setting to the characters, a pitch deck allows you to focus on the other key aspects of your movie – namely, the who, the why, and the how.

This will help to convince investors, collaborators, and funders of what sets your film apart. As Edgar Wright explains in his BBC Maestro course on filmmaking, there’s more competition in the market than ever before. He says:

“One of the many amazing things about being a filmmaker today is how easy it is to find equipment and shoot projects on your own. While I had to deal with bulky cameras when I was growing up, so many aspiring filmmakers can shoot entire projects with smartphones now. However, with that additional ease comes another challenge: there are far more films being made today than there ever have been before.”

So, a good pitch deck could be the thing that helps to make your movie stand out in a saturated market.

Securing film funding

As well as convincing producers that they should get on board with your film, a pitch deck can also be a really useful tool when applying to film funds. It will give potential investors a quick overview of the film, helping them to easily see why they should put money behind your project, by referencing other similar films which have been a considerable success, or simply inspiring them with a strong visual presentation that brings your concept to life.

Creative clarity

A pitch deck is also a fantastic way to flesh out ideas and finalise details that you might have been pondering. It helps you to bring it all together and make sure all the film’s details are clear in your mind – useful for you both when it comes to marketing the screenplay as well as shooting the film. 

filmmaker with camera

What to include in your pitch deck

When pitching a movie idea, your deck should set the tone for the film and give a general overview of what the story is, without going into too much detail.

It should include:

  • A cover page: This should introduce the film and summarise what is going to be covered in the pitch deck. Think of it as a mini movie poster.
  • Overview: This section of the pitch deck should include all the key information about your film, including a logline synopsis (a one-line description of your film), any movies your film is similar to, and any relevant background (for instance, is it a book adaptation?). You may also want to include any narrative themes and you can also highlight the film’s genre in this section.
  • Synopsis: This should expand on the logline synopsis, going into further detail about the film’s plots. Without going into too much depth, you should outline what happens in the film from start to finish, including any twists and turns.
  • Mood board: This should convey what look and feel you’re aiming for – think of the ethos ‘show, don’t tell’ here. You could include photographs that have inspired you, specific locations you want to shoot in, or fashion shots to highlight the aesthetic you want your film to have.
  • Details of people already involved with the film: In this section, you should include details of anyone already associated with the project. Add a short blurb about each person, with along with a headshot. If you’re trying to get funding, then details of a producer might help to build confidence in your movie, while if you’re trying to secure a producer, they may be keen to sign up based on particular actors involved with the film.

It’s as important to get the visual element of your pitch deck right as it is to nail the written details. You should aim to showcase the look and feel of your film through the pictures used, the way it’s laid out, and the colour palette. This, along with the synopsis and other details of your film, will come together to create a cohesive overview of your film – and hopefully convince producers, investors, and creative teams to get involved! 

Are pitch decks used in both films and TV shows?

While movies use film decks, TV shows tend to use series bibles instead. Although they have a different name, the premise is similar. As Jed Mercurio, writer of hit shows Line of Duty and Bodyguard, explains in his BBC Maestro course on Writing Drama for Television:

“A series bible is a document that declares what your show is about – the story, the style, the themes. It’s an important guide for you, and for the other writers working on your series to understand the parameters and potential of the programme. It is also the document you will use to pitch your original series alongside your pilot script. The series bible is the distilled promise of the series written in a digestible form.”

A series bible should include details of:

  • They type of series you’re making
  • The number of episodes
  • Whether it’s serialised, episodic or hybrid
  • Additional details about the plot, characters, and aesthetics of the series

Similarly to a pitch deck, a series bible should highlight the potential of your series, which can help it to get produced, as well as ensuring other writers are clear on the premise of the show and its characters. 
Are you ready to create your film or TV series and highlight what makes it special? Check out our BBC Maestro courses from the experts, with Edgar Wright’s course on Filmmaking and Jed Mercurio’s course on Writing Drama for Television providing all the hints and tips you need. 

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