How to Nail the One-Page Pitch

Treatments, ten-pagers, series bibles, scene-by-scene outlines— the list goes on and on. If one of your projects gets ever optioned by a production company, you will be surprised to learn that the good old screenplay is just one of the many documents that might be requested to you. Writing a well-crafted script indeed is the starting point of your career but, business-wise, having a clear idea of what these documents are is just essential. And in an industry with very busy people such as the TV and film producers, the one-page pitch is the sine-qua-non document of becoming a professional screenwriter.

The one-page pitch (sometimes “one-pager”) is a written version of your verbal pitch. It’s a short-and-sweet, bright, uniform, and gripping overview of your film/TV project. No matter how a producer is into your idea, this is the document they will probably ask you before spending hours of their time reading your script, the document that might get you to that long-desired meeting. Let’s take a look at the essential elements of writing one and a few tips and tricks.

Key Elements

The title and your name go on the top. Keep in mind that saying it’s a w/t (working title) is something you might want to avoid. Your title could be changed during development anyway. Just find a strong one.

Format. Write whether your project is a feature film or a TV series, and the length: 90/100 mins (or other) if it’s a film, and the usual details if it’s TV (for instance “10×60’ TV series”). You may also include the genre and your target channel/broadcaster/streaming platform if you think your project would fit in their portfolio and agenda.

Logline. Your project in one sentence – more a marketing tool than a narrative one. You can either put your logline separately or use it to open the synopsis of your one-pager (which we’ll cover in a second). No matter where you put it, use your creativity to shape the best logline ever.

The synopsis is where you must shine. Keep in mind every word matters, and that pitches are not a summary of the plot. They are all about concept, story, characters and tone. If somebody wants the plot, they will ask for the script. Think about the one-pager as a selling document and a showcase of your voice and vision, not an account of events.

Your opening paragraph should strike and hook the reader with an intriguing idea related to your core concept, with the logline, or with any line establishing the tone of your story. A couple of sentences that give us a clear sense of what your project is about. For instance, consider one of the opening lines from the series bible of Stranger Things: “Set in Long Island in 1980 and inspired by the supernatural classics of the era, we explore the crossroads where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.”

In the following paragraph, you should focus on the keystones, the crucial elements and strengths of your project. Use this section to intrigue the reader even more and provide more information to understand the story and the genre. You can talk about what motivated you to write, why your story is fresh, or why it’s worth telling it today (one of the most asked questions ever).

You can then move on to the story (not the plot!). Establish the setting, your protagonist or the central character(s), who they are, the central conflict, and the stakes. If you mention any plot points, make sure they are distinguishable and serve the purpose of clarifying the story engine and the concept. Again, keep this brief and clear.

Finish with a section for your contact details. Phone number and email should be sufficient, but nothing stops you from including the link to your website (if you have one), your showreel, or to another platform with more information about your career (LinkedIn, Creativepool, The Talent Manager, and so on).

Tips and Tricks

  • The one-pager is not two pages nor one page and a half. It’s one page (surprise, surprise). Use the white space wisely without overloading the page and don’t cheat with the layout and the font size. You want people to enjoy reading it.
  • Make sure the tone of your pitch matches your story. If you’re writing a comedy, try to make the reader laugh. If you’re writing an epic sci-fi, use the words to make us picture your unique world in our minds. You can do some research to see how other writers craft series bibles or other pitch documents. It is mesmerising how beautifully written these documents can be. Again, your choice of words is everything. They can be visceral, explosive, spooky, exhilarating, etc., etc.
  • As if you’re working on a script, re-read and edit your text several times until you’re sure every word matters. You’ll find out that, after a few days pass, it gets easier to spot any non-essential information. Ask a friend to proofread it and to see if the concept, tone, and logline come across the way you want them to.
  • Last but not least, enjoy the process and good luck!