Life’s a Pitch

Basil Shadid is an Oscar nominated Seattle documentary filmmaker who’s been able to pull off some amazing projects due to a combination of Chutzpah and skill. All because he realizes the power of the pitch. I recently had the opportunity to hear him speak at the Seattle DocuTalk Meetup, where he shared stories like how we was able to get full, all-event press and video access to Sundance to create an original show. It was all in the power of the pitch. His key points were:

  1. You have to be bold.
  2. When pitching, dazzle them with brilliance, or baffle them with bullsh**.
  3. Be passionate about whatever you’re pitching. If you don’t believe in it, how can you expect others to.
  4. It’s a numbers game. He gets 1 “yes” for every 99 “no’s.” Keep knockin’ on doors.
  5. Leverage every “yes” to get to the next one. He first pitched his idea to Sundance and got the approval. He then used that approval to actually get the money needed to do all the filming.

I loved his advice. I’ve had similar experiences with large projects I’ve pitched in the past. Particularly the idea of what I call “snowballing”: taking your connection or “yes” from one person or company and using that to get the next guy. And so on.

What project(s) are you currently working on where you need a powerful pitch? Are being bold and passionate? Are you giving up after the 4th, 5th or 25th no; or are you willing to ask 75 more people? Are you being smart and strategic?

Here’s that Sundance show Basill produced.

And here ar some fun pitches to give you inspiration (or at least entertainment):

Wolf of Wall Street

The Player

Shark Tank