The Pitching Essentials: Two Minute Pitches
A good pitch can get a bad film made while a bad pitch can leave a terrific project languishing on the shelf. Pitching is part art (it’s creative), part science (it needs to follow a tight script) and part sales (you have to wow them). Conference attendees will learn the essential rules and tools of pitching from the experts. Volunteers selected in advance will pitch to our expert panel. They will give unvarnished feedback on each pitch – explaining what worked, what didn’t – and why.
To be considered to pitch live, you must be a registered attendee for AFM and will need to submit a 2-minute video pitch. For details, see the Pitch Conference Submission Guide. Pitch submissions will be accepted through Sunday, October 17.
Lee Jessup, Screenwriting Career Consultant & Coach, leejessup.com
Cassian Elwes, Producer & Agent, Elevated Film Sales
Jeffrey Greenstein, President, Millennium Media
Monica Levinson, Independent Producer, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Captain Fantastic,” “Brian Banks,” “Wander Darkly”
Cassian ElwesProducer & Agent, Elevated Film Sales
Cassian Elwes is an expert in producing, arranging financing and finding distribution for independent films. He began his producing career with 1984’s “Oxford Blues” starring Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy and quickly went on to make another 29 films, including “Men At Work,” with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, and “The Chase,” again with Sheen.
In 1994, Elwes joined William Morris and headed William Morris Independent Film for 15 years. He arranged financing for indie hits such as “Slingblade” and “The Apostle,” both of which were nominated for multiple Academy Awards. “Monster’s Ball” was their historic follow up as Halle Berry became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. In the end he had arranged financing and distribution for 283 films during his tenure at William Morris.
Since leaving William Morris 10 years ago, Elwes has either produced or executive produced more than 70 films such as David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, which was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Feature, Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, for which Williams was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, and the hit period drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which featured an all-star cast headed by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.
He also executive produced J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” starring Robert Redford and executive produced and arranged financing for the Academy Award winning hit “Dallas Buyers Club” directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner.
Most recently, Elwes produced both the multiple Academy Award nominated “Mudbound”, directed by Dee Rees, which Netflix distributed, and Dee Rees’ latest film, “The Last Thing He Wanted,” starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe, which Netflix will distribute. “Dreamland,” starring Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, and Evangeline Lilly, and “Best Sellers,” starring Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza, are in currently in post-production.
Jeffrey GreensteinPresident, Millennium Media
Lee JessupScreenwriting Career Consultant & Coach
Lee Jessup is a career coach for professional and emerging screenwriters, a twice-published, best-selling author, whose consulting services have been utilized by Universal Writers Program, NBC International, and Final Draft’s Big Break contest. Lee’s clients include writers who have major spec, pilot and pitch sales under their belts, writers who have written major studio films, staffed TV writers on shows including DEAD TO ME, MRS. AMERICA, GOOD GIRLS, UNDONE and MANIFEST (just to name a few), TV writing program fellows, writers named to The Hit List, The Blood List, The Young & Hungry List and The Black List, major contest winners, as well as writers just beginning to chart their professional course.
Lee is the author of BREAKING IN: TALES FROM THE SCREENWRITING TRENCHES (Focal Press) and GETTING IT WRITE: AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO A SCREENWRITING CAREER (MWP). She has appeared in countless screenwriting conferences and panels domestically, abroad, and online. She is a contributor to Script Magazine, and has been the interview subject of countless podcasts.
Never too far from the industry, Lee resides in Los Angeles with her family.
Monica Levinson Independent Producer, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Captain Fantastic,” “Brian Banks,” "Wander Darkly"Monica LevinsonIndependent Producer, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Captain Fantastic,” “Brian Banks,” "Wander Darkly"
Monica Levinson is a prolific film and television producer whose expansive career is reflected by the diverse array of projects she has produced. Working alongside top innovators in entertainment, she is frequently lauded for her passion to protect and further the creative aspects of filmmaking, with a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility.
Last year (2020) was a busy one for Levinson, with four feature films debuting including the globat hit, Golden Globe Winner Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova, which premiered on
Amazon Prime Video to both critical acclaim and record-breaking success. Levinson previously collaborated with Baron Cohen as a producer on the iconic hit comedies, Bruno and Borat.
Along with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Levinson recently produced two high-profile independent films: Wander Darkly, a romantic drama that premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, starring Sienna Miller and Diego Luna, written and directed by Tara Miele (The Lake Effect); and The Water Man, directed by David Oyelowo, a thrilling family film that premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, starring Oyeloyo (Selma), Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Alfred Molina and Maria Bello. The film made its
international debut in 2021, topping the Netflix charts in many territories.
Levinson also served as an executive producer of Academy Award Nominee The Trial of Chicago 7, Aaron Sorkin’s acclaimed drama which was released on Netflix in October 2020 – about the notorious trial of the men charged with inciting violence at the peaceful protests around 1968 Democratic National Convention.
The recent Women in Film: Make it Work! television benefit that aired on the CW network was executive produced by Levinson, along with Amy Baer and Stephanie Allain. This virtual fundraiser, featuring appearances from Hillary Clinton, Alfre Woodard, Jane Fonda, Sheryl Crow, Rita Moreno, Jennifer Garner and others, shined a light on the Women In Film #HireHerBack initiative that promotes the employment of women and minorities in the economic recovery during the pandemic.
As President of Production at ShivHans Pictures from its inception in 2014 through 2019, Levinson oversaw all aspects of film and television development, production, post-production, financing and distribution turnover, as well as running day-to-day company operations. At ShivHans, she developed and oversaw a distinctive slate of projects including: the Oscar-nominated film, Trumbo: the Oscar-nominated film, Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortensen; Golden-Globe nominated Danny Collins, directed by Dan Fogelman and starring Al Pacino, Annette Bening and Jennifer Garner; Beirut, starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike, directed by Brad Anderson;
The Polka King, directed by Maya Forbes, starring Jack Black and Jason Schwartzman; Brian Banks, directed by Tom Shadyac; and the 2020 films, Tara Miele’s Wander Darkly and David Oyelowo’s The Water Man.
Levinson joined ShivHans following stints on an array of hit films such as Bruno, Zoolander, Dodgeball, Clear History, 30 Minutes Or Less, and Borat, which was named one of the Top 10 Films of 2006 by the AFI.
After starting her career in broadcast news, where she covered the fast-paced business of Capitol Hill in her hometown of Washington D.C., Levinson made her transition into narrative storytelling while working on feature films with visionary directors Alan J. Pakula, Sidney Lumet and Michael Mann.
Levinson is a board member of Women in Film, a member of the Producers Branch of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Science, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, and part of the leadership team for Women’s Production Society, heading up one of their key initiatives to find a path for Production Supervisors into DGA membership. She is passionate about inclusion for marginalized and under-represented groups, and started a training program at ShivHans that she has amplified with other production companies. She is a founding member of INDIE (representing independent films in IATSE negotiations and for the California Tax Credit), mentors young filmmakers, and often guest lectures at universities.