*All posts written by myself and never AI ;)
If you're a filmmaker reading this right now, you are probably searching high and low for funding for your big project. You've got a killer script, people have read it and loved it, and you've got the perfect actor or cinematographer lined up. Everyone is excited and you just know that your film is going to be amazing... if someone with money will just take a chance on you.
One way to get people just as passionate as you are about a project is to create a Pitch Deck or Look Book. The two are often used interchangeably, but there are little, notable differences:
Pitch Deck - A compilation of slides of all the information about your project that potential investors should know. This includes the title, a logline, genre, brief synopsis/treatment, main character descriptions, images of locations, director and producers' mini bios, budget, target completion date, project goals, and contact info.
Pitch Decks should focus more on why a person should invest in your film.
Look Book - A compilation of slides that captures and conveys the look, feel, and tone of your film. The look book will use more images and comparables for particular locations, camera style, set decorating, color, and other visuals you want to convey. It should also include your title, logline, genre, brief synopsis/treatment, main character descriptions, a director's/writer's mini bio, and contact info.
Look Books can focus on attaching actors and other crew members, in addition to producers.
Whichever one you decide to utilize, remember that these slides are going to be the first visual impression of your idea! Taking extra time to work on these decks will not only put you ahead of other projects coming across a producer's desk, but will also demonstrate that you are a professional who knows why their project will be a success.
Here are five things to do before you present your Pitch Deck or Look Book to some of the most important people in the industry:
This is an easy one that you may want to skip, but don't. Mistakes look unprofessional and it shows that maybe you didn't send this to anyone else before sending it to a potential investor or executive.
Seriously take 10 more minutes out of your day and re-read your slides. Then, pass it to a friend or relative and ask them to look for spelling and grammatical errors.
As you may have seen, there are tons of templates for pitch decks and look books these days. Seeing your project visually in this manner can be a wonderful experience and formatting images and text boxes can be fun. I say if you have the skills, go for it.
BUT .... if you don't have the skills, simplicity is best. First work on getting the important information in your book or deck in a clear and concise way. Format your project's information so that it fits easily on 10-12 slides (15 max). Don't just shrink all the text, but consider the size in relation to the images. Most templates will guide you to creating a good layout, so go with the formatting already set for now. I'll talk more about how to edit down your information below.
All your slides should have a title referring to what's on the slide (synopsis, director's bio, etc.) and a slide number for ease of reference. Again, pass it to others on your team or friends you trust to get honest feedback. Make sure all text is sufficient in size and legible.
3. ADD A GENRE & PROJECT TYPE
Lately, I've come across some directors that don't want to classify their project in a certain genre or format and I totally understand that the boundaries of the film and video industries are changing at a rapid pace. However, potential investors, executive producers, and distributors will need to know how to classify your project so it can reach its full target demographic.
A Christmas "dram-edy" (drama + comedy) will certainly be marketed differently and to different audiences than a slasher-murder-mystery. Investors will know that a Christmas dram-edy should be released on Thanksgiving Day in the US and will work backwards from that timeline to finalize advertising.
Likewise, include your project format in your deck/book even if you feel it's a given. Investors are more likely to invest in projects where the returns will be greater and less risky. A web series will not generate as big of an ROI as a film, but your goals may be to increase your views on YouTube. You never know what ideas or connections some people may have to help you reach a wider audience.
4. PICK A THEME
Now that you've spellchecked your info, formatted your visuals into 10-12 slides, and added your genre and project type, try creating a theme for your look book or pitch deck that is connected to the theme of the project.
For example, if my project is a comedy about a rural town teenager who joins the cow-judging club at school to become popular, guess what images I'm using? It's not hard to do cows, but really hone in on other aspects of this project you already know: school, farms, milk, grassy knolls, etc.
Pick three to four colors and make the slides thematically fit together. Then choose two or 3 different fonts that may also be on theme. These visuals will help your Pitch Deck or Look Book not only appear more stylized and professional, but it will also make it memorable (in a good way).
5. MAKE IT CONCISE
As a producer who isn't working on major motion pictures, I'm still not reading anything that's too long or wordy. That's not to say that I don't read pitch decks at all of course. There's specific information that I need when I'm considering joining a project. They rest is usually fluff.
If you have more than 15 slides, you have too much information in your pitch deck or look book. Take out slides that don't add any important information, such as quotes or descriptions of secondary characters. Then cut down bios, statements and character descriptions. In a look book, consider which "looks" and "locations" are major to the plot and which ones spend less time on screen. Remember you want only the most important information in the deck/book for the people you are showing it too.
Investors will want to know your budget range, goals for the project, and target demographics, but actors or cinematographers don't need to neccessarily know this info. It's common to have couple of versions of your pitch deck or look book ready to go to certain specific industry professionals. Cut out certain slides using Adobe Acrobat or Google Slides and save them to create specific files.
I know this may cause some re-formatting issues, but once you are done, you'll have a short and sweet visual aid for pitching your project to anyone. If investors or executives are interested and they want more information, they will certainly ask for it!
Just starting your pitch deck or look book? Check out these templates on Canva.
If you would like me to take a look at your pitch deck you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "PITCH DECK INQUIRY" and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Stefano Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of Transgress Studios LLC, a film and video production company serving the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2013, Stefano has produced an array of media including feature-length narratives, shorts, docs, promotional content, and live events. You can contact him directly at email@example.com or call 415-580-2066.