So you’ve finally managed to finish your animation course and now you want to grab the ear of someone in the industry. You’re standing in front of them and now it’s time to sell your work. But something’s amiss: their brow is furrowed, they’re fidgeting, checking their phone. You begin to falter – you’ve lost your train of thought and all too quickly your carefully crafted pitch is going to pieces in your hands.
So what went wrong? Having a bad pitch is a rite of passage for any budding animator and there’s no use letting it get you down. Instead the best thing you can do is learn from the experience and use it to improve yourself. In this article we’ll offer a rundown of essential tips to make sure you nail it next time and bag your next commission.
Don’t pull an all-nighter
Yeah, this may have worked for you for a few college assignments and you’ve been bragging about it ever since. The thing is, it didn’t really matter what dead-eyed state of catatonia you were in the next day because all you had to do was hand in the coursework and conk out somewhere for eighteen hours.
Sadly, it does matter what state you’re in when you’re trying to pitch yourself as a competent professional. Bags under your eyes, shaking hands caused by the metric tonne of caffeine you’ve ingested – these symptoms don’t really scream professionalism to a potential backer or employer. So do you yourself a favour and get a good night’s sleep. Also remember to set your mobile to silent. Nothing derails your sleep (or a pitch for that matter) like the obnoxious chirrup of a phone. That ironic Craig David ringtone isn’t so funny now – IS IT?
What’s it about?
You may have loved your animation course and have a million great ideas but it’s all for naught if you can’t yoke them together into a coherent plot or concept. If it’s an advert, how does your idea actually sell the product? If it’s an episodic TV show, is there enough substance in the characters and premise to give it longevity? All too often pitches fall back on staid and clichéd plot devices to skirt around these issues (e.g. the “monster of the week”) pitfall.
Don’t get too hung up on the small details
In preparing for a pitch, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of viewing a pitch as an audition. Remember, you’re not a performer and your work ultimately will speak for itself. What the person on the other side of the desk wants to see in you is a professional with a clear-minded understanding of their own ideas and the ability to express them succinctly.
Also unlike an audition: props are mandatory! So be sure to prepare a clean presentation with your ideas, concepts and storyboards clearly laid out so you can refer to them throughout the pitch.
Keep your audience in mind
One of the best pieces of advice out there on delivering an animation pitch is this piece by industry veteran Mark Mayerson. In it, he highlights the seldom stated truism that the person you’re pitching to often has no creative background, and more often than not their sole focus is the bottom line. All too often animators (and creatives in general) fail to factor in these more practical considerations, namely:
- Is there an audience for what you’re pitching?
- What are the projected production costs?
- Does the project fit the particular “brand” of the company you’re pitching to?
For a business, these considerations are paramount, so it never hurts to factor them in to your pitch.
For all that though, the single most important piece of advice is this: love your idea. It’s hard to sell something you don’t believe in, and if you’re having trouble getting investors on board you may need to take a step back and think hard about your work. This may be a tough cookie to swallow, but often the pattern that characterises an early animation career is pitch, reject and reiterate. It takes a lot of resilience, and unfortunately having your ideas rejected is part and parcel of working in a creative industry. If all else fails, take strength from something Samuel Beckett once said: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”.
Animation Courses at Pulse College
The animation courses at Pulse College offer students the ideal opportunity to learn about this dynamic, creative and technical world where anything can happen! Find out more about our Full and Part-Time 2-Year courses, along with our 6-Week Intro to Animation course, perfect for those thinking of pursuing a full time course in the future or someone wanting to learn more about the world of animation. Why not come along to our next open event to learn more.