Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Creating a Pitch Bible

The Pitch Bible: Just The Essentials
Jan Nagel lays out the essentials when putting together a show bible before you get to the big pitch.

In pitching animation, not only do you need the passion, have a thorough understanding about your property and know the broadcaster and their needs, you need to demonstrate what your story it about. Your pitch materials are your sales tools.

The Pitch Bible is a tool that helps convey your concept. It is a tool to help you present and is a leave-behind to trigger the decision maker’s memory.

There are no hard and fast rules about what form a pitch bible should take. At it’s very best, it should reflect the concept of the project, whether it is a television, feature or home entertainment project, to help the buyer visualize the story as you pitched it. The size, color, number of pages, how it is put together is up to you, the creator, to determine what best conveys your creation.
What are the basic elements and what should not be left out? This is the question that most creators ask. Sometimes we can get hung up in terminology and get lost in what is important. Let’s review a glossary of common pitching terms.

Glossary For The Pitch Bible
Character Descriptions:
Written descriptions of each character, what are their characteristics and how they interact with the other characters in the story.

Concept Art:
Drawings, illustrations or images of the characters and the environments of the story.

Episode Synopsis:
See “story springboards;” One-paragraph description of episodic plots that spring from the original concept; each episode’s synopsis should contain a beginning, middle and end.

See “concept art;” Drawing, illustrations of the characters and the environments of the story.

Key Art:
A drawing, illustration or image of the cast of characters in significant action poses in their environment that best visualizes the characterizations and story.

Log Line:
A one-sentence description of the story often similar to the one-line description in a television scheduling guide.

A fully produced episode to show as a sample of the animation and story.

Pitch Bible or Pitch Book:
A compilation of premise, story, characters, images in a form that can be presented during a pitch, as well as left behind with the prospect.

A written foundation that explores the establishment, conflict and resolution of the story. The premise helps to support the story and the characters for the writer.

Script Treatment:
A treatment covers the full story, its basic ideas, and production issues in a condensed form, containing key scenes, locations, main characters and plot.

Story Springboards:
See “episode synopsis;” One-paragraph descriptions of episodes plots that spring from the original concept. Each episode’s synopsis should contain a beginning, middle and end.

Story Treatment:
A compelling narrative about the story in a page or two for television, longer for features; is used to sell the story.

A one-paragraph overview of the story, plot and motivation of the characters.

Produced animation, either a sequence or animatic, which best illustrates the main characters, their actions and the premise.

A produced synopsis of the animated story, which helps to sell the concept.

Building A Pitch Bible

You as the creator will determine the look, feel and weight of your pitch, but there are a few essentials that you want to be sure to include in your pitch materials.
First and foremost, when developing your pitch package, make sure that it functions well in a presentation. Know where in the book you want key images of characters, environments and key art that you can use in presenting. Make sure that it is easy to follow in a book form, as well as usable in the sales pitch. Some creators like to bring in separate presentation boards of the art for the pitch only, with the pitch book as the leave-behind.

The pitch book is the document that is left with the interested party for their referral. It is your sales tool when you are not there. Keep it brief and to the point.

Be sure to have a log line, premise or synopsis included in the front of your pitch for easy reference. Include a story treatment, which gives a more in depth perspective of the concept.

Unlike any other pitch in entertainment, images in animation are the “heart” and soul of the story. The pitch book should reflect the artistic design of the project. Some creators use a visual theme throughout their pitch bibles to reinforce the concept. Visual consistency is a way to insure the property is remembered. Developing a logo for your project is an effective way of tying all the pieces together.

Main characters should be displayed in action poses and with attitudes. These are the actors you “hired” for the story. Images of the environment help to establish the story’s world. Great key art, in which the characters are in action, per their description, within the key environment, further support the concept.
Episodic synopses are essential for every television pitch. Episodes will show that the story and characters sustains in other situations and circumstances. Be sure that the episode synopses are short with a beginning, middle and end of the story.

But There’s More…
The above are the essentials that every pitch needs, but there are other things that can be added.

Some times a concept comes from an existing source, such as a book, toy or legend. Include a history of the story to give the decider a further understanding of the concept’s potential. Perhaps show the extended licensing and merchandising opportunities that this new version can bring. If you wish to add samples of these products to the pitch package, make sure they have your contact information added.
For some pitches (see AWN article: “Pitching Animation: Rules of the Game from the Pros That Play It”) it might be important to include an outline of the educational benefits of the concept and the resources that support the educational mission of the show.

Don’t forget to include the biographies of the creators. The decision makers like to know whom they are working with. In the case of some networks, they are interviewing the creator, as much as evaluating the concept, during a pitch.

Must Haves
Have your pitch book bound. Spiral, comb binding or three-ring, there are so many ways to have your pitch book assembled with covers. Doing this insures that your concept will be secure. No one likes loose pages, nor does it reflect well on you.

Select a method of duplication that allows for change without too much expense. Color copying or printing from a computer will give you the flexibility to adjust your presentation for the individual broadcaster or decision maker.

You need to protect you and your property. Your copyright is essential and should be printed on every page of a pitch book. If you have a trademark or a WGA (Writer’s Guild of America, go to to register your property) number, add these, too. Add a page number just to be safe, as well. Pitch books do get copied.

When adding your pilot, teaser or trailer DVD or videotape to the package, make sure that it has the same appearance as the pitch book and has your contact information. Some presentation folders have a holder for these media being included. You don’t want these to stray too far from the pitch book. On the opening and closing slates of the DVD or VHS, be sure to have your name, contact information and copyright, as well.

Contact information is essential. Have your name, phone number, email address, along with that of your representation, in the pitch book as well as on all other ancillary materials, such as your trailer, or any samples you will be leaving behind.

The pitch and the pitch bible are limited only by your own imagination. The look and the feel are up to you. Just be sure to keep the essentials in the package and you will have a pitch bible that stands on its own.

Jan Nagel, the entertainment marketing diva, is a consultant involved in the business of animation and visual effects since 1991. She represents creative producers and productions companies worldwide, including j9 Productions and AGOGO Corp. Hong Kong, as well as being a frequent guest lecturer on the subject of the business of animation. She is also a founding member and current president of Women in Animation International.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for some great tips, much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

working on an assignment Thank you for the information.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tips. Thanks a lot!

Nathan said...

Sounds like you've done this before. Wish I could have you in my corner. :)
Thanks for the knowledge! You've made the long process feel more attainable. I really appreciate you putting this together and posting it.

Christopher N. Lamb

Dr. Brad Kayden said...

Very informative, thanks.

Shruti said...

thanx for the info....
an example would be appreciated said...

If you'd like to see a sample of a pitch bible, you can always google one. There isn't a way to post an entire pitch bible on here. Good luck.

SpicyBrowngirl said...

like lambwriter said, the way you present this makes it much more manageable seeming workload. thanks for posting. good stuff. for someone who's been on the receiving side of development i can say this is nice and comprehensive.

julieconnects said...

Hi Jan -
I've written a pitch bible for a children's series and have an illustrator ready to do the visuals. Should I ask her to sign a simple Work for Hire document? Thank you. said...

Julie, it depends on the relationship the illustrator will have with the project going forward. If he/she is going to do work, one time for a flat fee that's one thing without receiving future credit that's one thing, if he/she wants credit should the work gets picked up that's another thing. You should always have some sort of agreement to define the terms upfront to avoid misunderstandings later. Speak with an entertainment attorney about your options. Good luck.