How to Sell a Movie Idea: Step-by-Step Instruction

How to sell a movie idea - step by step instructions + the best tips from professionals.

You are an average person, who does not have any connections at TV or significant sums of money.

However, you have a brilliant movie idea, which is sure to chain millions of people to the screen, and the most important – the desire to fulfill this idea.

This is when the most difficult part begins – you need to sell a movie idea and present yourself to the film producers.

No matter how interesting and exciting your film is, it definitely has one huge drawback – it only exists in your head now.

It is likely to stay there forever, if you are unable to sell your idea by demonstrating your vision of a product to the filmmakers, making them believe that your idea is worth attention.

So, let’s try to find the ways how to sell a movie idea.

How to sell a movie idea by making a teaser?


The easiest and most effective way how to do it with zero or low budget is to make a teaser.

This is a three minute video, where you reveal your concept and introduce the characters.

In other words this will be the advertisement of your movie idea, which must contain the answer to the questions why millions of people will watch your creation, why it is topical and what its novelty is.

Before you start working at teaser, you need to formulate your movie idea maximum at two pages, where you’ll distinctly and clearly explain the idea of your product.

Answer to yourself in two short sentences what this story will be about.

Now you can start making a teaser.

At this stage it’s extremely important to show that you have certain vision and that filmmakers won’t cope without you.

In perfect conditions you should edit a kind of commercial video trailer + little advancement on the characters.

5 rules of a successful teaser, which will help you sell a movie idea:

  1. Before you start editing, you should write an intriguing, interesting story, which a voice over is going to tell.

    When you write a story, you won’t do without the usage of bright adjectives.

    Your task is to think how to bring your movie idea to producers as precisely as possible and right now the words are your main weapon.

  2. As soon as you write a story, it’s time to pick a video, with the help of which you’ll demonstrate it.

    This is a rather painstaking and long-term process.

    Choose video of high quality only.

    In the HD world no one will waste his time to watch something that looks like a bad pirate version of a film from the 90-ies.

  3. If you have a story about modern Cinderella, you should never include the episodes from the classic version.

    Remember that here you demonstrate how you see the product.

    Modern and up-to-date things must not be mixed with classics.

  4. Music creates the mood and brings the tone.

    Music must be major, because it creates the feelings of novelty and trend as well as leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

  5. When you finish telling what your movie will be about (2 minutes maximum), the time left must be devoted to the characters and their peculiarities.

    You have not more than a minute for it.

    Describing the characters, dwell on their inner conflicts a little, speak about dreams and ambitions.

    Besides, add on what ground there will be the opposition with the rest of characters from your movie.

How to sell a movie idea by creating a logline?

One of the signs of being a professional script-writer in the West is the ability to sell the story to a producer using only one sentence.

Logline is a very short text, literally one-three sentences, which reveal the essence of the idea and encourage a producer, a stage-manager or an editor to read the whole script.

How can one possibly put the whole story in one sentence?

It’s not a secret that a story in a movie gets its flesh, blood and inner energy only in case it is adjusted to the only conflict, which (as a rule) develops within three acts.

That’s why the only way to express the essence of a story shortly and effectively is to formulate its main dramatic conflict.

This is the thing that makes a good logline.

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Properly written logline reflects the four components, which create the main dramatic conflict of any movie story:

  • A hero
  • An antagonist
  • A provoking incident
  • The hero’s goal.

Aside from these four above-mentioned components, which just as bricks make the conflict, any logline must have some irony.

It’s senseless to invent in on purpose, but this is the fifth element of a logline, which is a sign that your conflict has a life and some potential for development.

How to write a logline to sell a movie idea successfully?

In order to do it, your logline must correspond to all three conditions, which are listed below.

The logline’s conditions, which will definitely help to sell a movie idea

  • The originality of a dramatic conflict.

    The requirement to being original does not make the author discover the continents again.

    To sell an idea by means of only one sentence you do not have to write about distant galaxies or Jedi.

    It concerns more the unexpected opinion on the standard plot, which no one managed to bring to life yet.

  • The story’s versatility.

    As we speak on how to sell a movie idea, we definitely speak about business and the story must be targeted at the wide audience.

    One can very easily test the idea on the presence of versatility: you need to learn your logline by heart and go to the streets telling people around about it.

    If 8 out of 10 people say they like the idea, you reached your goal.

  • The film’s potential.

    From the logline you offer to a producer, the latter must get the complete image of genre, audience and film’s budget.

    We already discussed the film’s potential: in case the conflict is really strong, a producer will “see” the story from your logline.

    According to it, he’ll be able to estimate the supposed audience and film’s budget.

    The same thing concerns the genre.

    If you sell a comedy, logline must not necessarily cause Homeric laughter, but it must trigger a smile.

    Anyway, the perfect reaction to a logline from the person, who reads it, must be sincere delight and partially sad thought why he failed to think it up.

    If it comes to his head, be sure you sold your ides.

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How to sell a movie idea by pitching?

If you wonder how to sell a movie idea, you must have heard such term as pitching.

If no, we’ll gladly introduce it to you.

The word “pitching” (from English pitch – put for sale, pitch a ball, send out a feeler) means a short presentation of a film project, which a script writer/stage-manager/producer create for potential investors wishing to make them interested in the idea and invest money in it.

In Hollywood, it technically looks like this:

  • A script writer comes to a film production company and communicating with someone from the studio’s executives (managers) retells the idea in brief, which is likely to be already brought to life in his script.
  • If that person likes the idea, he’ll retell it to his boss, and if the latter is satisfied with it, they call for the script, learn it and buy it.

    In case there is no script yet, a script writer may be given some money to create it.

What is needed to create a pitch?

Whether we like it or no, every script writer must know how to present his work – how to make a pitch.

In most cases pitches are made to sell the scripts.

However, sometimes he has to present a future film to the actors and stage-managers, so that they read your work.

If you are an aspiring author, your goal must be to make the agent or editor so interested, that he would truly desire to read the whole text.

The most widespread mistake of the most authors is that they try to retell the plot.

The plot won’t help you to sell the work.

You must come up with an interesting story.

What is the difference?

The plot is a simple sequence of events – i.e. what is going on.

The story emphasizes why it happens, because there you speak about the characters and movie topic.

Mind that you are unable to retell the whole film.

No one expects you to do it.

Specialists agree that a good pitch must be short – not more than 5-10 minutes.

Even the longest pitch cannot last more than 15 minutes, that’s why you need to summarize.

The authors of the book “The Hollywood Pitching Bible: A Practical Guide to Pitching Movies and Television” suggest the aspiring authors watching to the trailers attentively – these videos have the similar goal as pitching, because they also sell the future film in a short and exciting form.

It means they can teach you how to sell and present your idea.

However, there is a difference, because a trailer will never uncover the film’s final, when a pitcher must pompously present the finals.

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How to build a pitch in order to sell a movie idea:

  1. Logline (the description of your film in one sentence.)

    Reveal the film’s idea at once, because it helps to interpret everything you will say later.

  2. Genre and mood.

    The worst thing that can happen is to hear after you told the half of the pitch “so, this is a comedy or what?” and it does not matter what your answer will be.

    Surely, the mood of your story must be understood from what you say, but why risk?

    Directly say that this is a fantastic thriller.

  3. Starting point.

    Devote the most of your time to retell the first act.

    It’s extremely important to make the listeners understand who the main character is, what he wants, what is going to happen, if he does not get it, and which obstacles await him.

  4. The second act.

    Speak in brief about the main turning points; describe the obstacles, which a hero overcomes in the second act.

    It’s not necessary to describe everything from A to Z, but let the listeners understand how the story develops.

  5. Significant scenes.

    Describing the second act you must make sure you emphasized the significant scenes.

    There is no need in details, but it must be clear from the story that the audience won’t be bored.

  6. Shock.

    In the end of a second act something unexpected must happen, which will be a sign that the third act started.

    Properly lead your audience to this moment.

  7. Resolution.

    Describe the final scene.

    Again, you do not need to do it in details, just provide the listeners with the possibility to feel the culmination of the film.

    Do not forget to speak on the emotional resolution.

    What has a hero learned?

    How has his life changed?

How to sell a movie idea following a step-by-step instruction?

Well, you defined how to present your movie idea.

What should you do next?

Read out recommendations and find out how to act and where to turn now.

What to do to sell a movie idea:

  1. Research the current programs and reports on the developments, using the advertising publications and other information resources on the Internet in order to be aware of what is currently developing and is manufactured on the studios or online.
  2. Then you’ll be able to open certain companies for yourself, which shoot TV-shows in the same genre as your project.

    Look through the catalogue in order to get the complete list of contacts in the industry, which crosses paths with the companies’ links, names, shows, etc.

  3. Make a list of companies, which fit you the most and make the initial request to find out whether they accept the ideas.
  4. Look for the additional online services, which use various producers and creative directors for the search of material.

    Film and television has several services, including and The TV Writers Vault, which serve the biggest film production companies in this field.

    Both professionals and beginners can present their materials and get the electronic check, which proves the fact of being reviewed.

  5. If it’s possible, use the lawyer’s service, which is specialized in the sphere of entertainment, but not an agent, who wishes to close the first possible deal.

    Agents take 10% and have no legal experience in making deals, while the lawyer has a huge experience in negotiations concerning the contracts.

    Most lawyers take the nominal payment with the least participation in other additional income.

Mind that there is no absolute formula of success in how to sell a movie idea: you should count on the fact that your film will be in the cinema not more than on a chance to win jackpot in a lottery.

However, you should bring your idea to order and show to the potential buyers, speak on its advantages and let them feel it, check on solidity and originality… only then you’ll get a chance to present yourself and your work.

Good luck!

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