Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Group Workshop: Pitch Session

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 13:44 min

You've got a screenplay—now it's time to pitch. Learn what questions Hollywood's decision makers will ask you during a pitch and how to effectively answer them.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: What makes a good pitch • Elements needed in every pitch


I'm terrible at pitching and, fortunately, I haven't had to do it that much. And I'm really terrible at describing what it is that I'm going to do. So all I can do to help you is try to anticipate what you would be asked in these pitch sessions. [MUSIC PLAYING] -Go ahead. -I'll get it out of the way. So after college, I got a Fulbright grant to go and do research in Italy. I was studying the history-- Sorry, yes? I was-- -I've never come close to getting a Fulbright grant. Go ahead. -But I was studying this practice in the 17th century in European cities, where they would stage these really highly ritualized and elaborate public anatomy lessons. They were these really bizarre events. In Bologna, they would do it during Carnival, so people would be-- doctors and scholars-- looking at the body, but you'd also have people in masks drunk in the back. You'd have burly students at the door to fight off the people trying to come in and reclaim the body of their loved one. And out of these stories that I was getting doing this archival research this thing eventually evolved. Yeah? -When would this happen? -This would happen during Carnival in the 17th century. -In the 17th century. OK. Go ahead. -So in the context of all this, I wound up eventually coming up with this idea for a mini series. And so just sort of for the pilot episode of the series, called The Anatomist-- -Does this series take place in the 1600s? -In the 17th century, yeah. -Yeah, OK. Go ahead. -So it follows the official dissector for the public anatomy, a guy named Niccolo Segni, who finds himself on the trail of a killer who is staging a sort of very public perverse anatomy of its own by killing anatomical abnormalities and then staging them around the city. But the real challenge and the sort of central idea of the thing is that Niccolo, in order to catch this guy, has to invent forensic science. There is no such thing and so he has to sort of invent tools along the way to figure this out. In an era where even empirical thinking was slightly dangerous and new. So, there's my pitch. -Why, I think that's really cool. I've never heard of what you're talking about. I think it's really cool. I think that just 10 or 15 years ago, you'd get laughed out of any room that you pitched that in. But we're no longer living in a time of, it's got to be ABC, CBS, or NBC. And there are cable networks that would do that kind of work. So I think it's terrific. If you were in an actual pitch session, they would ask you to describe some future episodes down the line. But because I want to get to everyone who has a pitch, I want to move on. But I totally wasn't expecting that. And I think it's cool as hell and keep thinking the way you think. OK. Who's next? [MUSIC PLAYING] -So I have been my sister's guardian since I was 20 years old. ...

About the Instructor

Aaron Sorkin wrote his first movie on cocktail napkins. Those napkins turned into A Few Good Men, starring Jack Nicholson. Now, the Academy Award-winning writer of The West Wing and The Social Network is teaching screenwriting. In this class, you’ll learn his rules of storytelling, dialogue, character development, and what makes a script actually sell. By the end, you’ll write screenplays that capture your audience’s attention.

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Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin teaches you the craft of film and television screenwriting.

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