You might be working as a freelancer, or as an employee for a company. Either way, the pitching process is the same. To help, we have broken down pitching into eight easy-to-follow steps, including detailed advice on creating a pitch deck, mood board, and treatment writing.
1. Creative Brief
When a client requests your services as a filmmaker, they will generally send you a creative brief, likely as a downloadable PDF document. Creative briefs will include video concept guidelines, brand descriptions, and visual examples. (Here are some helpful examples)
The creative brief communicates with you what your client is looking for from your work. Read through the brief slowly and carefully before deciding whether or not to go forward with the job. Most briefs will also include a project’s estimated budget. If your brief does not, ask your client how much they are willing to invest in the project before making your decision. If you are the one initially approaching the client with the video concept, you may be the one responsible for making the creative brief to then share with the potential client.
If you decide to go forward with the project, the next step is to get your ideas in order. Carefully reread over the creative brief to make sure that you fully understand what your client wants from you. Additionally, research into any of their competitors’ previous work to understand the players in this market space. It’s very important that you do not copy a competitor’s video. While you may end up using some of the same elements or themes, try to make your approach original and fresh. Every project you undertake will require a new thought process. For example, a music video concept will require research into videos of similar genres. When it comes to brainstorming ideas, it’s a good idea to seek out the opinions of others. If possible, get feedback by pitching your idea to a colleague or friend.
3. Pitch Deck
Unless this is a small, low-budget project, you will need to create a pitch deck. A pitch deck is a presentation of your project ideas, used to entice your client to hire you. Large companies will likely have several filmmakers pitching their video concepts to them. Just because you have been sent a creative brief does not mean that you have been hired. A pitch deck will include a mix of written treatments, images, and video link examples. Some people will choose to include storyboards and mood boards in the early stages. There are some of the elements that you may want to include in your pitch deck.
A video treatment is a straightforward, one-page document that defines the video concept and summarizes your creative approach. In the opening paragraph, state what the video will be about and how this meets your client’s needs. The bulk of the treatment will be a narrative summary of the concept from start to finish. Explain your video’s themes, tone, and visuals. You can also include details on desired camera shots, actors, movement, color, and music. Your treatment will change per project, but make sure to explain how your video will emote your audience. For example, a commercial will encourage people to buy the product, a music video concept will get fans excited about a new album.
5. Mood Board
A great way to persuade your client to go with your proposal is to include a mood board in your pitch deck. A mood board is a collage of images representing the project’s theme, color palette, and graphics. They might be focused on an overall tone, subject, or represent a single character within your story. By including visual elements in your pitch, you can quickly grab your client’s attention. To make this process straightforward, download an app for mood boards. Professional mood board apps include Moodboard, Mural, Niice, and Moodzer. Additionally, you can also create boards for free on Canva and Pinterest.
Now the depth of a pitch deck will vary depending on the project. Sometimes a one-page treatment and a mood board is all you need. You will need to go through your creative brief and decide how much to show your client in these early stages. Storyboards, budget breakdowns, and production breakdowns are sometimes given after a client greenlights a project. However, if you want to further tempt them with your video concept, you can create storyboards. These boards could show a significant scene within your video, an opening sequence, or the whole script. You can draw the boards yourself or use software such as – Storyboarder, PrevisPro, and Power Production.
You don’t need to include a budget breakdown in your pitch deck. However, it would help to know that your idea is achievable. As mentioned, some clients will let you know the budget in the creative brief. If they haven’t included it, ask what type of funding they were thinking of allocating to the project. Create a simple script breakdown and estimate the production costs. To do this, list all of the elements within your film, from pre-production costs to hiring crew and post-production. Double-check that your project is feasible within the given budget range and make changes if necessary. As you become a more experienced filmmaker, you will be able to make increasingly accurate budget estimates — this skill grows with experience.
When you have all of your pitch deck components together, you can complete your video concept. This can be saved as a PDF, Powerpoint, or placed online so that the media is interactive. Depending on the project, you might visit the company and pitch the project in person. If this is the case, memorize your pitch slides and opening treatment. If you are not confident with pitching, you can ask a colleague to help you present. Alternatively, some companies will be satisfied with the pitch being sent to them through email. It is also possible these days to pitch remotely.
After you have given your business proposal, your client should let you know when to expect the results. Ideally, you have done enough to convince them to back your idea, and you can soon be moving into production!
The process above will vary slightly depending on the project. For some projects, you will find yourself spending hours preparing the video concept. For others, a short email proposal might be all that is needed. Through practice, you will get the hang of knowing which clients are worth chasing for work, and you will eventually develop your own pitching routine.
Have you recently pitched a project to a client? What techniques did you use to present your idea? Let other freelancers know in the comments section below.