When You Pitch A Movie Don’t Tell The Ending – Jeffrey Davis and Peter Desberg

Film Courage: We’ve done two of the three elements of a Hollywood pitch, hook and logline now we have three act structure?

Jeffrey Davis, Writer/Professor: Let’s assume that you’re in a meeting and you get through the hook and you get through the logline and now you’re sitting there, you’re discussing, trying to fill it in and you make an appointment for three-to-four weeks ahead and they ask you come back with a fully fleshed out three-act structure. You might get lucky and do it that day. I rather doubt it, executives are busy, you come back. Now you’ve got the setup which is the first act, the main conflict, which is always in the second act and then a very short (short third acts, what we’ve found, are the best) and that’s the resolution and everything builds. The great example in The Odd Couple is in the film, I forgot how it was done on the stage so long ago that I saw it, but they’re on the roof and Walter Matthau (playing Oscar) says to Felix I can’t take it anymore. I’m going crazy. You gotta go! and Jack Lemmon says In other words, you’re throwing me out? and Walter Matthau says Not in other words, those are the perfect ones. Now we’re in act three because it’s as high as you can go in the conflict and what happens in the third act is…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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Peter Desberg is professor emeritus at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award and Outstanding Professor Award. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the area of stage fright and performance anxiety. The author of 23 books, he has been quoted by such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today and The New York Times, and has consulted for companies including Apple, Boeing and Toyota in the areas of pitching and persuasion, corporate presentations, and using storytelling and humor in business presentations. 

Jeffrey Davis is a professor of screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and served from 2009–2019 as the department chair. Davis has also written and produced trade shows for Dick Clark Productions and counted among his advertising clients Dell Computers, Toyota of America and Honda. His has more than 30 credits to his name, including Night Court, Remington Steele, and documentaries for A&E, Discovery, and The History Channel. As a consultant, his areas have also included writing, pitching, and employing storytelling and humor in business presentations.


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