Well here’s another one for ya, “synopitch”. I think I invented the word because when I google it, I keep coming up. But then again, I come up a lot in my searches. Pretty obvious though what the word means but sadly it is not used nearly as often as it should be. What’s that? You are correct, a synopitch is a cross between a synopsis and a written pitch paragraph—it is a document in one page.
He said, "no, worse, I only have one page to…”
The story goes like this. A writer I was working with called me on the phone from a Starbucks in a panic. I asked him if he just spilled his double caramel, half calf, unsweetened soy mock-choc Grande on his laptop. He said “no, worse, I only have one page to…” Apparently, a producer told him he has just one page to not only get his story, concept and idea across to him, but to convince him why he should read it. That’s when the idea of the synopitch hit me.
So, let’s see why and how this is effective. A synopsis of a screenplay is a one-page (or so) document written in present tense with active descriptions and complete characters. It should not only highlight your own unique voice, as should the screenplay you want to submit will, but it should also illustrate the major events of the story complete with twists, turns, reversals, obstacles/hurdles and surprises. It should be written in the tone of the script and imply the conventions of that particular genre. If it’s a comedy make it funny, if it's a thriller create suspense--you get it.
So why isn’t that enough to get them to ask for the screenplay? Because it is all about the what and not about the why. The synopitch takes care of the why, it blends the two. Keep in mind the idea is not just that of adding an overall summary or wedging in a pitch paragraph in at the end, it is about melding the two, as to entice, like the ingredients of a fine meal made by you.
Another point I want to make is that before you even think about submitting your synopitch make sure you have done your homework as to who you will submit to and why. Do the research on what production companies and filmmakers do the type of stories you are submitting. Not just the genre but the subject matter, the form and the style of films that yours may be akin to in some way. Draw up your list and do a bit of the honest legwork first.
Who are the people there to E-mail and perhaps even call? Calls are important as getting to know someone in the office and doing the 90 second charm-injected phone pitch may remove the term “unsolicited” from your query. Sending it directly to an intern or gatekeeper that you actually spoke to and made friends with gives you a bit of the personal touch when you address it to them. Also, if it is really good and I am sure it is, they look good too.
In the body of the E-mail include a brief cover letter letting them know that this is simply one-page, how you got their info and/or why you are submitting it to them.
About a week or ten days later follow up with a phone call. You will probably get a secretary or assistant. Be cool with them and see if there is anything else they may need from you regarding getting your script and such. There won’t be but you will be reminding them of it and hopefully push things along. Then, do the same with the other 71 people you sent the synopitch to and keep on them until you are certain it is dry, or they want your script.
You will get people to read your script.
So now, get cooking for your favorite director or producer and get ready to serve it up big.