by Jennifer Bozell
The best writers are able to not only create their own original pitches and scripts, but also adapt other material. A lot of the writing jobs in Hollywood are generated because a production company or studio needs to hire a writer to adapt a property that it owns the rights to – be it a book, magazine article, or really, anything at all. Don’t forget that Disney’s blockbuster film series “Pirates of the Caribbean” is based on a theme park ride!
Writers need to be able to take a meeting with a producer who owns the rights to a project and pitch that producer on why his or her vision for the project is the best. Let’s say you’re meeting with a producer who owns the rights to a “Wall Street Journal” feature about a famous criminal. The producer is meeting with a handful of writers and is going to hire whichever writer pitches him the take on the article he likes the best.
So if you’re ever pitching in this situation, first, make sure you share your vision for the project’s tone and theme. Do you see it as a serious drama? Or is it more of a tongue-and-cheek crime caper? And thematically, what is the project about? Is the criminal ultimately searching for vengeance? Or redemption? Bottom line: Be clear on your unique vision for the story.
Secondly, make sure you talk about the character arcs for the main character(s). You haven’t got the job yet, so you don’t need to go into a ton of detail here. But at least share with the producer which characters you see the story focused on, and loosely what you see as their arcs for the story. Whose point of view is this story being told through?
Thirdly, discuss what you see as the story’s beginning, middle, and end. Again, you don’t have to have an outline completed, given you have’t even been hired yet. But, you should have an idea for the basic plot of the story and how it would unfold. What’s the main conflict of the film?
If this is a job you really want, allow the producer to see your enthusiasm. Adaptations can take a long time to come together, and ultimately, the producer is looking to hire a writer who shares his passion for the project and also is invested in seeing it brought to life.