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Marketing Your Screenplay: Using Key Art and Visuals to Pitch Your Unique Story Idea

Humans lack imagination. It's not our fault, we're inundated with visual cues all of the time so we need to see something to 'get' it. To understand the tone, the vibe, the intent, and audience, the energy and emotion in the story. This explains the popularity of social media in a way, all of those shiny, dancing, constantly entertaining things to look at, from a second long - to hours.

Filmmakers Are Storytellers in a Visual Medium

It's the filmmaker's and writer's job to convey story with all of the tools at her disposal.

You looking at me?” Audio visual storytelling is inherently visual and must attract the eye, whether your story is written for the web, big screen or TV.

How visual is your story? If you’re pitching Young Adult or Children’s material, something high concept or an animated project, and you’re planning to pitch – give us something to look at.

  • Who is your audience?

  • What is your genre?

  • Based on your answer above, your image should be: funny, cute, scary, thoughtful, romantic, militaristic, monstrous, cartoon-like, serious

Whether you create graphics on Canva or other software, or hire an artist from Upwork, or craft a lookbook, sizzle reel, or use any other visual tool, it's important to convey a story QUICKLY. In a verbal pitch you may have anywhere from a few seconds to minutes, but the saying of 'a picture is worth a thousand words' is really true. The right image or video to support your story is a great place to start.

What is Key Art

Key art is that singular image we see in the movie posters. Out of all the possibilities, the artists chose one or a few to really draw a viewer in and hook them on the basic essence of the script.

Assuming your concept is ready to go, you have invested time, materials and the money to write, and you're ready to pitch, whether in person or online, consider investing some time and energy into partnering up with an illustrator or storyboard artist to give you one strong image. The key art on a movie poster is a powerful selling tool, and you can add that to your arsenal, just make sure it’s the right image. What makes a good image? Look at winning visuals out there now – quirky character designs in a film like Despicable Me, that is what goes on your 1-sheet. If you are looking for ideas, there’s no better place than to check out examples of film posters on IMDB or winners of Movie Poster and Clio Key Art Awards.

Chose Your Favorites

What are your three favorite movie posters. Ask yourself why you selected those and get granular, is it the tone, or colors, layout or something else?

While a poster or key art is a great place to start, shooting footage is another great step and offers immediate insights as to the intent of the filmmakers. Either way, as you develop the pitch for your project, create visuals (or get help) in order to deepen the pitch and make a stronger impact.

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