Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Author's Pitch Sheet

When pitching to movie people about your book, you have a short time to absolutely WOW them with how great your story will be on the big screen. Then you're gone. You might want to leave them with something to remember you by, like a pitch sheet.

A Pitch Sheet includes the log line and a synopsis of your book. One page is plenty to hand over after a quick pitch, if there is interest or not.

You don't need to tell them everything on the first meeting, just enough to make them realize that your book would make an awesome movie and get them hooked.

A synopsis over four pages in the biz, is called the Treatment. If they ask for a treatment, that is GREAT news.

To fluff up the sheet to pitch pack status, you may also include bios on the main characters, other interesting factors like locations, music etc, and a dream cast of who will star in the movie.

A Treatment -  This is longer than a synopsis and can be between 10-20 pages. There is much confusion in the industry over the length of a treatment but if you are asked to submit one, keep in mind it's a very long synopsis. Many industry pros differ in what they call the Treatment or the Sheet.

If you are lucky enough to talk to a producer, studio head, director, film maker, just realize that your time with them is extremely short and every minute counts. Be concise, relevant and compelling. In your pitch, answer why would they benefit from making this movie?

For most pitchers, you will only need the pitch sheet initially, until the story is optioned. Then you might need the pack.
If you are a screenwriter, they may ask for a Beat Sheet, a bullet point list of scenes.

Here's a good blog about terminology from the guy who wrote Sweet Home Alabama:

A log line is the one to two sentence summary of your story.
Use action words and powerful writing!

Who is your main character and what does he want?
Who or what stands in his way?
Why is this story unique?

eg) A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea. (Titanic)
This is an example of a short log line.

eg) An older man is forced to deal with an ambiguous future after he enters retirement and his wife passes away. Ultimately, he finds hope as he comes to terms with his daughter's marriage and his own life.(About Schmidt)
This is a longer one.
Both are acceptable and not especially memorable. How would you rewrite them?

When writing your synopsis, be sure to describe the scenes like you are watching a movie. 
I've included my Pitch Sheet below, but I'm not entirely convinced it's anywhere near perfect. For the one-page version, I leave out the synopsis and only go with the blurb.

Kim Hornsby is the Author of Award-Winning The Dream Jumper's Promise available on Amazon Books. She is a Bestselling Supernatural Suspense Author who lives in the Seattle area where she writes during the rainy months.

Title: The Dream Jumper’s Promise

Adventurous Thriller with Romance and Supernatural Elements, Set on Maui,

Contact Information:
425) 444-xxxx

Log Line

A hardened soldier who once misused his psychic ability to change the future in order to save a girlfriend must set a wrong right by attempting to find her missing husband. Dead or Alive.


Jamey Dunn has freakishly accurate intuition and can slip into other people's dreams. On leave from his posting in Afghanistan where he dream jumps for the military, Jamey crosses paths with his lost love, Tina Greene, who's life is in a downward spiral after losing her husband to a surfing accident-- presumably dead without a recovered body. Tina doesn't trust Jamey, after walking out on her ten years ago but when she confesses to having strange recurring dreams of her husband, Jamey reveals his secret and offers to help by entering her dreams.--it's Jamey's fault that Hank is missing. In the dream world and awake, Jamey joins Tina in a search for her husband’s missing body off the Maui coastline in search of an underwater cavern guarded by a Tiger Shark. As Jamey tries to redeem a broken promise to protect the woman he loved from a con man and life of misery, they find the cavern, the body, the shark and a ghost that won't let Tina go.

Inception Meets Romance on Maui


Tina Greene is a mid-thirties, girl next door type from the upper class of Seattle who owns a dive shop in Lahaina on Maui. With her constant companion, a pit bull mix named Obi Wan, she’s made her mark on the Maui Scuba scene. She’s recently lost her spunk when her new husband went missing and has succumbed to depression. Haunting dreams have Tina convinced she’s going crazy and that her Lahaina shrink is in over her head.

Jamey Dunn is a complicated dude. He has hyper-intuition (telepathy) and can enter people’s dreams—an unpredictable gift of three decades. He’s fit, handsome, fastidious, and has loved Tina from the first moment he saw her ten years earlier and knew he couldn’t have her. On leave from a Sixth Sense unit in Afghanistan where he enters dreams of POW’s, he’s recovering after a debilitating dream jump with a member of al Qaeda.

Noble Santiago is a con man. He grew up in LA’s barrio, and has been pulling cons all his life with his brother. They follow a con job to Maui, it falls flat and they take up with Tina who has priceless inherited paintings. Noble hides in the guise of a hula dancer and lives in a cottage in Tina’s backyard.

Hank (the husband) is Noble’s brother, pulling off cons his whole 40 years. When they end up on Maui and their target goes soft, they see the perfect con. But Hank ends up married, in love with his wife, Tina, and dead.


Maui – Lahaina Towne, Front Street, the Dive Shop, restaurants, bars,
              Tina’s house, a plantation-style large cottage surrounded by property and palm trees
               Jamey’s condo overlooking Ironwood beach in the windswept area of Kapalua up north
               Dive scenes underwater – Tank Dive, Cavern Dive, Molokini Crater and the dive scene to the dark cave
Molokai – Keanakakai downtown and the Molokai hotel
                    Diving on the Sweeping Molokai Sea Cliffs and underwater off the Kalaupapa Leper Colony
Afghanistan – Flashback of his unit that uses the 6th Sense to interrogate prisoners and withdraw information
                         Dream jump in war-torn Afghanistan


Jamey Dunn bolts upright in bed after a nightmare in which he sliced off a young al Qaeda’s head. After a few deep breaths, Jamey remembers he’s on leave, on Maui and gets out of bed to step in to the shower.
Tina Greene is opening her dive shop for the day in Lahaina, Maui. The charming whaling town is coming to life as the sun rises over the West Maui Mountains. When a policeman enters the store holding a weathered wallet, Tina recognizes it as Hank’s. The cop says they found her missing husband’s wallet at the popular surfing spot, Hobbit Land, a rocky pullout with a trail leading to a favorite wave break. It’s believed that Hank died surfing eight months earlier and assumed the sharks got the body. Tina can’t accept it.
She settles in at desk to tackle her scuba business that’s teetering on bankruptcy and hears a scream in the shop. Bolting in to the store, she sees her shop girl, Katie, hugging a man who turns out to be Katie’s uncle, Jamey. He’s on leave from his posting in Afghanistan and Tina has agreed he can dive free while on Maui. When he turns, she realizes Jamey’s the man who left her without an explanation ten years ago. Tina takes his hand and a jolt passes between them and she passes out.
That night, she dreams of scuba diving with Hank, who turns into a tiger shark. She wakes up wet, clutching a hunk of coral from the dream. She calls her shrink who is treating her for grief and depression. A medication adjustment is suggested. The day passes freakishly quickly and on her way home that night, she pops in to the Honokowai Superette to buy beer and sees Jamey with his wife, the perfect woman Tina always imagined Jamey left her for.
When she wakes the next morning, Tina realizes the pending storm has arrived with palm trees bending sideways in the wind and rain pelting her front yard. She cancels the morning boat dive at her dive shop only to realize that yesterday never happened. She never woke with coral and never saw Jamey at the grocery store. She was still dreaming. Tina ties a ribbon to her dog’s collar to determine dream life from reality, hopes it works, and heads off to see her shrink.
That night she arrives home to find Noble worried about her. He lives in the cottage on her large property and has been her rock during this tragic time. Noble is fond of Tina, protective of her, and together they are trying to pick up the pieces and move on after Hank’s disappearance. He’s been sleeping with her, (platonically,) to get her through the night. But there is interest on Noble’s part.
Tina can’t go near the ocean without seeing Hank’s mangled body below the surface and can’t dive anymore. But the next day her boat captain falls sick and she steps in to drive the boat. Jamey is on board the 8-passenger dive boat and she is plagued by memories of how much she loved Jamey years ago.
That night, she wakes after her recurring diving dream with Hank and finds her nightgown wet, on her floor. She’s unknowingly changed her clothes since going to bed. In fear, she runs to Noble’s cottage and tripping, wakes up in her bed to see her dog, Obi, wearing the ribbon on his collar. She’s had another WILD – Wake Induced Lucid Dream with a false awakening. Insanity looms.
Jamey wakes on high alert. He senses something is wrong and phones his father in Seattle to check on his ten-year-old daughters from a failed marriage. They talk about Jamey healing from brain trauma during an Afghanistan Dream Jump and Pops asks about Jamey’s diminished ability to enter dreams. That morning, Jamey senses Tina is in danger and takes a spot on the morning boat dive.  At Molokini Crater, Tina must replace her sick instructor as the dive leader. Her dreaded hallucination of a mangled Hank with his skin falling off shows itself and has her surfacing quickly. Jamey takes over to lead the divers back to the boat.  
When Jamey corners Tina back in Lahaina, she’s hesitant to divulge anything to Jamey, who she thinks betrayed her ten years earlier. Especially after hearing the heartbreaking news that Jamey married his ex-girlfriend and had twins after promising to return to Maui for a life with her. Like a slap in the face, Jamey’s fatherhood hurts more because Tina and Hank had been trying to have a baby when he disappeared.
The next day, Tina’s dive boat captain is still sick and she asks Jamey to lead the dive on a wrecked sunken tank with experienced divers. On the boat, her feelings for him soften when he makes her laugh.
After the dive, Tina mentions her strange dreams of diving with Hank, and Jamey feels responsible for the mess of Tina’s life. He asks to meet at the Barefoot Bar in Kaanapali, thinking she might be more likely to meet at a bar on the way home from work. where he cautiously reveals his psychic ability and that he can enter dreams. She doesn’t believe either claim until he reveals something only she would know as they walk along a darkened Maui beach with the huge hotels of Kaanapali in the background.
That night, he finds himself in a dream with Tina, as Hank, and is surprised at how much Hank loved his wife. He’d assumed otherwise.
Hank’s broken surfboard turns up and Tina takes it home from the police station. Noble comforts Tina, admitting his growing feelings for her. He suggests they’d make great parents. Things heat up, but Tina is unsure about getting involved with Hank’s best friend, reminding herself she’s vulnerable.
Jamey thinks about his last tragic dream jump in Afghanistan and the secrecy involved, including his pseudonym, Freud. A young al Qaeda member was killed in prison after Jamey’s finding from his last jump and Jamey’s nightmare about the beheading resurfaces.  Flashback to Jamey’s last jump to find a weapons cache in Kandahar where the dreamer somehow knew he was a jumper and tried to kill him in the dream.
Tina’s recurring dream of diving with Hank has her surfacing in the ocean to pinpoint a location. A stony beach and a sheer cliff are seen before she wakes. Skeptical of dream sharing with Jamey, she agrees to give it a try that night. Her parents show up on Maui from Seattle for her birthday and Tina is less than thrilled. The parents are rich, meddlesome, and don’t approve of Maui. Tina drinks too much at dinner and later, at her house, Jamey shows up to dream jump, as planned. Noble takes an immediate disliking to the handsome stranger in Tina’s life and she asks him to leave.
When Tina falls in to a dream, Jamey succeeds in jumping her dream with Hank leading her to a cave. She wakes wet, and worries that Jamey is acting aggressively. She’s still dreaming! Jamey and Tina wake together and Jamey reveals his theory-- Hank is dead and his spirit is still in her bedroom trying to help her find his body. Privately, Jamey wonders whether he has regained his full jumping capabilities or if Tina is now the jumper, entering his dreams.
Tina recalls that she and Hank were happy once. When they met, they flirted at a Lahaina poolside party but Hank was engaged to an art dealer. The engagement was broken and Hank showed up at her dive shop one day. They became a couple and eventually married.
Tina’s parents are driving her crazy, trying to get her to return to Seattle with them for a break. What she needs is to find Hank’s body. She and Jamey take the boat out to look for the dream dive site--the rocky beach from her dream but can’t find the beach.
Jamey has a dream that he and Tina making love in a bed suspended over the ocean, a gorgeously ethereal scene, and when he realizes he’s jumped her dream, he leaves. The next day he and Tina take a small plane to search the coastline of Maui for the stony beach. Tina is livid that Jamey let her make love with him in the dream but Jamey defends himself saying he left the dream. And that it might have been Tina’s dream that he jumped, not his.
They don’t find the dive site by air, but talk about Hank’s past as an art dealer and Tina reveals she owns expensive inherited paintings in air-tight containers in her garage.
Jamey makes headway communicating with Hank in Tina’s empty house, through automatic writing. He’s given a clue that’s difficult to decipher. MO As he searches for clues, Jamey remembers a dream with Tina ten years earlier. She was dancing at her own wedding reception with a skeleton. Having promised his dream-jumping uncle never to interfere with the future, Jamey walked out of Tina’s life knowing she was headed for marriage to another man and ultimately tragedy. It was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. Especially when he met Hank years later and intuited his interest in Tina involved a con job.
The parents find Jamey at Tina’s house and order him to leave. It’s Tina’s birthday and Jamey takes her for breakfast on Front Street overlooking the ocean at Longhi’s restaurant. They flirt and enjoy each other’s company. Jamey is funny and Tina almost feels like she did when she first fell in love with Jamey years ago.
Coming home from a strained dinner with her parents, Tina finds a house full of surprise party guests. Jamey wasn’t invited but Noble was, although the parents seem to ignore him. Tina gets tipsy and is put to bed. When Jamey arrives to dream jump at midnight, he finds Noble in bed with Tina. Jamey is concerned but tries to jump Tina’s dream from outside the house only to find that Tina has jumped in to Noble’s sexy dream of them making love.
Jamey helps Tina get out of the dream and she wakes, disoriented. He’s still on the front lawn under her bedroom window, sure Noble drugged her. Tina tells Noble she’d like to sleep alone.
The next morning Tina’s father accompanies her to the shrink to suggest that Tina belongs in Seattle under expert psychiatric care. Meanwhile, at the house, Jamey tries to summon Hank’s ghost, but Tina’s mother arrives and banishes him. 
Jamey suspects that Molokai is the clue he’s channeled from Hank and rents a plane to scour the Molokai coast for the stony beach in the dream. A still groggy Tina vows she’ll come to Seattle for one week but must get her dog situated first. As her parents make plans to take her from Maui, Jamey suspects Tina will be gone for longer than a week if her father gets power of attorney. He hunts for the stony beach. Noble supports the parents in taking Tina “home”.  Mid-afternoon, Jamey finds Tina asleep in her bed and he jumps her dream to see the Molokai coastline he’d just flown over. Noble arrives and Jamey ducks into the closet to hear Noble speak ill of Jamey.
When Noble leaves, Jamey tells Tina about the Molokai dive site and pleads with her to postpone Seattle. Noble returns and a physical fight breaks out between the men. Tina orders them both out of her house and goes for a walk on the beach with her dog to clear her foggy head. Jamey phones to say he’s got a plane waiting to verify it’s Molokai. Her flight leaves soon but she goes with Jamey and finds the dream beach. Under Jamey’s advice, she stays at his place and passes out on his bed with her dog, having taken her prescribed meds for the night. Something is not right and Jamey suspects Noble has been drugging her through her meds.
The next morning, Jamey and Tina take the boat to Molokai, but the S belt breaks in the channel. They eventually drift and paddle in to Kaunakakai and overnight on Molokai while waiting for a part to be flown in. Tina and Jamey feel a reprieve from the heaviness of late. Like a pocket of borrowed time. They eat at a beachside restaurant, dance to a Hawaiian trio and Jamey confesses how, years ago, he saw her future didn’t include him. The dream of her wedding with Hank made him leave her suddenly with no explanation. She’s touched that Jamey did the honorable thing when he found she’d marry another man. He married his ex-girlfriend after finding she was pregnant with their twins.
That night Tina and Jamey fall into bed together on Molokai and make love like they’d never been separated by ten years and two marriages. When they fall off into a dream, Jamey finds himself in the scene of Hank’s death at the picturesque cliffs of Hobbit Land on Maui. In the dream, it’s revealed that Noble and Hank were con artists, brothers, intent on stealing Tina’s paintings, but along the way Hank’s feelings for Tina turned into something more and he wanted out of the con to stay with Tina. When Noble refused, they fought and Hank fell to his death on the rocks below the cliff. Noble threw his brother’s body and surf board in the surging ocean, hoping it would look like a surfing accident.
Tina and Jamey wake from the shared dream finally knowing how Hank died. On their way to find Hank’s body, Jamey phones to ask Katie, the shop girl if she has seen Noble. He plans alert the police to Noble’s guilt in Hank’s death. But Katie says that Noble is dead. He shot himself months ago in Tina’s cottage. She warns Jamey not to speak to Tina of Noble. She’s under the care of a psychiatrist to work out her denial of Noble’s suicide.
Jamey is shocked. He and Tina have been communicating with a ghost and Tina has blocked out Noble’s death. Jamey keeps this to himself and when they find the dream dive site, the two suit up to dive. The surge is dangerous, also making the dive murky, but they find the cave. Tina sets up a rope pulley to use against the current to get inside the turbulent cave. Once in, she sees Hank’s body blocking the blow hole opening. She panics and tries to exit. But the strong surge prevents an exit. Just as she runs out of air, Jamey pulls himself around the cave’s doorway on the pulley. He only has a few more breaths left but gives his regulator to Tina. A twelve-foot tiger shark, the one from the dream, emerges from the cave’s shadows and as it swims by, Jamey grabs the dorsal fin to get them around the corner. They rush to the surface and gasp for air. The shark is gone.
Police divers are summoned to recover the body. Jamey will stay, and Tina will return to the Molokai hotel to wait for him. But she reroutes the police helicopter to Maui where Noble is waiting for her. A confrontation has him apologizing for the con, saying he wasn’t sure if he was dead or alive and begging Tina to come with him to the afterlife, like Hank did to him. After telling Noble no, she forgives him for everything, and Noble’s image fades to nothing.
Jamey frantically arrives at her house thinking Noble might have killed her but she’s waiting for him, having just called her mother who admitted to using sedatives to make Tina compliant to leaving Maui. Tina is glad to see Jamey, though in shock. She has heard Hank’s voice on the television, telling her he loves her. She tells Jamey she believes Hank has moved on. He agrees Hank spoke through electronic voice phenomena.
Jamey knows he must bury the secret that he wrote her parents anonymously to out Hank’s criminal history, a year ago. He’d just met Hank on Maui and sensed he would take Tina’s money. He can’t tell her it was his letter to Tina’s parents that ruined her marriage.
Tina and Jamey make love and finally fall asleep. He dreams of them on a beach with a child. Their child. He wakes to rest his hand on her tummy and senses life growing within her.

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