Meet the 2021 ScreenCraft Virtual Pitch Finalists
As important as it is for screenwriters to focus on the craft of writing, learning to pitch your story idea is essential for building a career.
Studio execs are under pressure to consistently find the next big thing and simply don’t have the time to read every single script that might come across their desk. That’s why pitching is fundamental to the industry. Those writers who can pitch well, with clarity, enthusiasm and a great hook, have a huge advantage.
ScreenCraft’s Virtual Pitch finalists somehow make pitching look easy. While each of them has a different style and method of preparation, every single one is a great communicator and storyteller. If you are new to pitching or want to learn how much story, character detail, as well as how much of your own personality to include in a pitch, our finalists provide some inspiring examples.
Manivone Nonthaveth | CHARCOAL
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado and living in Brooklyn, New York for the past 13 years, Manivone’s personal inspiration for the project is reflected in her own life as a visual artist and woman of color. Much of her work addresses classism, power and identity through the lens of her art.
“Developing a pitch is like starting with a raw block of clay and having to convey the essence of your story using only your bare hands to shape movement and emotion, in hopes to be granted with the right tools to carve the lines onto its feathers and put it into flight.”
Say congrats to Manivone on Instagram!
Rowan Meyer | CLOISTERED
Originally from Gloucester, MA Rowan is a NYC based screenwriter and producer. In 2020, his period pilot Lemonlight won Best Comedy at Austin Film Festival, his religious pilot Cloistered received a staged reading at Sundance, and he released his self-produced medical pilot Patient. Cloistered was inspired by Rowan’s husband who is a music director at a Catholic church.
“If a writer is having trouble succinctly and enthusiastically describing their script, that's often a sign that there's more writing to be done. I like to develop 3 pitches for every project: the elevator (90 seconds), the quickie (3-4 minutes), and the robust (20-25 minutes). The longer the pitch, the more detail you can get into, but I think the single most important element is your personal connection to the material – that's the juicy goodness.”
Say congrats to Rowan on Instagram or Twitter!
Steve Blame | MAJOR HACKER’S WAR
Originally from London Steve currently lives in Germany. An iconic face of 80s and 90s MTV, which broadcast to over 100 millions homes in Europe, Steve is also an author and screenwriter.
“Pitching is imperative to find the core of a story. I develop a Pitch Deck alongside the script, often going from one to the other to provide a greater focus on the theme, style, characters, and story through colors, text, photos, and my connection to the screenplay through its theme.”
Say congrats to Steve on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!
Maria Krovatin | MISS MUFFET
Born and living in New York, Maria is a cliched “multi-hyphen” and proud of it. With a decade+ as a writer/producer/actor/creator/etc. focused on telling female stories — and often with a strong emphasis on humor – her work has been recognized at places like Sundance, SXSW, Telluride and TIFF. Maria has a low voice, high hopes, and detests avocado.
“Nailing one’s pitch is the most essential work of a writer besides writing. If you can’t pitch what’s on the page, it’s not moving from script to screen. I prep for pitches with exhaustive practice. Draft a "meeting script," memorize it, rehearse it to death, try it out for friends and fellow creatives, make tweaks based on feedback, and practice some more. Then I go into the meeting and hopefully deliver the whole thing effortlessly, like I haven’t practiced at all.”
Steffany Sommers | ROOMS OF EXPERIENCE
A Southern California native, Steffany grew up around Hollywood and has had a sampling of roles in the entertainment field, from actor to catering/craft services to writer. Being in front of the camera has been helpful in crafting natural dialogue and Steffany is passionate about creating choice roles for women, particularly those in their 40s and beyond, as well as highlighting people with disabilities.
“I think the art of pitching is of high importance for a writer. You can have a stellar script, but if you can't accurately convey it with a sense of confidence and likability, you will not find people who want to invest time and money into you and your projects. I prepare myself by intimately knowing my material, and being able to talk about my characters as if they are real people I know.”
Say congrats to Steffany on Instagram!
Leah Bognanni | SCOOPVILLE
Born in South Korea, adopted, and raised by Italian-Americans right outside Boston, Leah is a television and film screenwriter. Breezy, blunt, and bruised, her writing tells stories begging to end social stigmatization, start challenging dialogues, and improve emotional intelligence in children through creative expression.
“I highly value feedback from others, so I prepare by writing a pitch, saying it out loud to myself a million times, practicing out loud to friends and family, receiving feedback, timing myself, then practicing some more.”
Say congrats to Leah on Instagram or Twitter!
Teneille Newallo | SOUCOUYANT
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Teneille is an actress/screenwriter who's placed in multiple screenwriting competitions in North and Central America. As a Caribbean woman of color, she has hopes of sharing her unique perspective and bringing Caribbean stories to the rest of the world.
“To prepare myself, I rework my pitch as much as possible and practice, practice, practice – that helps me feel less nervous.”
Say congrats to Teneille on Instagram or Facebook!
Lyric Fergusson | THIS IS AMERICA
Originally from Toluca Lake, CA Lyric is a passionate researcher and journalist specializing in human rights. Lyric has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, The Guardian, The New York Post, etc. As a screenwriter, she uses her unique life experiences to tell transformational stories about ordinary people overcoming extraordinary struggles.
“It’s exceedingly important for screenwriters to convey all the beauty and complexity found in the Pandora’s box of our imaginations… succinctly. I start by reminding myself of my passion for the project, it’s relevance, my personal connection, and craft a powerful logline. Then, I work to weave my protagonists through the key plot points of the pilot while conveying their overarching goals, their hardships, and their essence so that the executive knows that the series concept has strong legs.”
Say congrats to Lyric on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!
These eight writers have all found their own unique way of communicating their story through an entertaining pitch. It’s interesting to note their diverse backgrounds while sharing a common goal: to tell the best story they can. Tune in to watch them pitch to a stellar industry jury at the LIVE Grand Finale event, which will take place virtually at the ScreenCraft Writer’s Summit on Sunday, April 11th at 4:30pm PST // 7:30pm EST. For more details, visit here.