Pitch Like Hollywood Book Summary - Pitch Like Hollywood Book explained in key points
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Pitch Like Hollywood summary

Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis

What You Can Learn from the High-Stakes Film Industry

4.1 (189 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Pitch Like Hollywood by Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis is a practical guide to pitching ideas. It uses Hollywood storytelling techniques to help you inspire others by using character-driven narratives and emotion to capture the attention and imagination of your audience.

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    Pitch Like Hollywood
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    Every good Hollywood pitch is made up of a hook, logline, and three-act story structure.

    So, let’s say you’re developing an idea for a new business. You have a product in mind, and you’ve done substantial research on its market viability. But there’s a missing ingredient that’s blocking you from taking your idea to the next level – funding. 

    To get the financial backing you need to move your project along, you'll inevitably need to meet your potential partners or investors. This meeting is, of course, the pitch. In it, you have a short amount of face-to-face time to promote your idea. If your pitch goes down well in Hollywood, you’ll be asked to submit your script. In the business world, you’ll probably be asked to provide a business plan.

    But before making it to that stage, you have a lot of work cut out for you. Developing an effective pitch takes time and effort. Luckily, the Hollywood pitch is made up of specific ingredients mixed together in a specific order. And by following the recipe, you’ll find yourself with a compelling story – with the potential to wow investors. This story is made up of three ingredients: the hook, logline, and three-act structure. Let’s take a look at these terms in more detail.

    The hook and logline are by far the shortest parts of any good pitch – they’re the punchy, brief phrases that sum up the heart of your work. And your pitch should get to the hook as fast as possible. This is because your hook will be the most memorable part of your pitch. Just like the hook of a good pop song, it’s something short that will grab your listeners’ attention. 

    After the hook comes the logline. It’s a little longer than your hook, but not too bogged down in details. You’ll save those for the three-act structure. With your logline, you’ll introduce the essence of your project without giving away the ending. A good logline often introduces the main characters of your pitch, and the conflict they are involved in. 

    Before we move on, let’s quickly take a look at an example of a good hook and logline. Say a few friends decide to launch an app to tackle the perceived problem of shopping for nutritious food – but ending up with dishes that don’t taste so good. Their app is called “Nutritious N Delicious,” and the hook is as simple as it is memorable. It goes: “it can taste good and be good for you.” Simple enough, right? Their logline is equally powerful and yet leaves the listener wanting to know more: “you can have your cake, and eat it too . . . and stay healthy just by pulling out your phone.” This sounds too good to be true, right? An app that accompanies you while grocery shopping, and somehow determines the nutrients and tastiness of any product on the shelf. 

    Now, while the hook and logline may have reeled you in, you need more information before you’re ready to commit. How does the app work? What are the motivations of the developers? What expertise do they have in the field? And how did they come up with the idea in the first place? These questions are answered most effectively by the power of storytelling, specifically recounted in three acts with a beginning, middle, and end. 

    The three-act structure starts off with act one, in which your characters are introduced, as well as the conflict they find themselves confronted with. Then, in act two, the conflict escalates, and failed attempts to solve it are presented. But it is not until act three that the conflict is finally resolved.

    The three-act structure works just as well in the business world as it does in Hollywood. Let’s take a closer look at the three-act structure that the developers of Nutritious N Delicious put together. In act one, the characters are introduced. The first is one of the company’s founders, a doctor. He worked at a hospital for years. It was there that he witnessed first-hand the debilitating diseases caused by bad nutrition. 

    He tells the story of how he met one of the other founders, a chef at a fancy restaurant. They connected over their mutual disdain for unhealthy food. But when the chef told him he was coming up with recipes that were both tasty and healthy, the doctor was skeptical. In no time at all, the chef whipped together gourmet-quality recipes made only with healthy ingredients. Both the doctor and his girlfriend, a computer scientist, were astounded by the food. While eating, she remarked that they should create an app. Within the space of an hour, the company was born.

    So, as we’ve seen, act one is all about introducing the protagonists and the conflict they face. In act two, the founders dive into the conflict in more detail. Sure, there are plenty of apps where you can scan barcodes to figure out a food’s nutritional value. And there are also apps that show ratings of restaurants based on how good their food is. But no one has yet tried to combine these two things    into one app. So the only way to figure out nutritional and healthy foods is to either use multiple apps, conduct hours of research, or be forced to test out healthy recipes to see how tasty they are. It’s not convenient at all, especially when you’re hungry.

    By breaking down the pain points of the status quo, act two reveals how there’s a real need for the unique service that the app provides. Finally, in act three, resolution arrives. Imagine an app that allows you to simply scan a barcode in the supermarket – and receive both nutritional and taste-based ratings for the item in question. It’s not rocket science, and wouldn’t need a huge investment. But it sure has the potential to make a lot of money. And what they’re sure to communicate in act three is that they’ve obtained data showing that millennials would download the app in droves. 

    And thus concludes the Nutritious N Delicious Hollywood pitch. It can taste good and be good for you. If you were a venture capitalist present at the pitch, would you invest?

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    What is Pitch Like Hollywood about?

    Pitch Like Hollywood (2022) uncovers the secret ingredients behind the successful techniques used to pitch films and TV shows in Hollywood. Luckily, it doesn’t matter what industry you work in – the principles behind the Hollywood pitch can be universally applied. By harnessing the power of storytelling and the psychology of persuasion, you can pitch literally anything to anyone.

    Pitch Like Hollywood Review

    Pitch Like Hollywood (2009) is a book that dives into the art of crafting persuasive pitches inspired by the principles of Hollywood storytelling. Here's why we think it's worth reading:

    • Full of practical strategies and techniques, it equips readers with the tools they need to captivate their audience and sell their ideas effectively.
    • By exploring the symbiotic relationship between story and pitch, it offers a fresh and unique perspective on the pitching process.
    • The book's examples and anecdotes from successful Hollywood pitches provide real-world insights that make reading about pitching not only informative but genuinely interesting.

    Who should read Pitch Like Hollywood?

    • Founders looking to up their pitching game
    • Film buffs curious as to how things get funded in Hollywood
    • Anyone who suffers from stage fright

    About the Author

    Peter Desberg is professor emeritus at California State University, as well as being a practicing psychologist. He’s written 23 books over his career, and has provided pitching consultation for corporations like Apple, Toyota, and Boeing.

    Jeffrey Davis is a professor of screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University. He’s also a writer and producer, having made advertisements for big names such as Dell, Toyota, and Honda.

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    Pitch Like Hollywood FAQs 

    What is the main message of Pitch Like Hollywood?

    The main message of Pitch Like Hollywood is to master the art of pitching by following proven techniques used in the film industry.

    How long does it take to read Pitch Like Hollywood?

    The reading time for Pitch Like Hollywood varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Pitch Like Hollywood a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Pitch Like Hollywood is a valuable read for anyone looking to improve their pitching skills. It offers practical advice from industry professionals.

    Who is the author of Pitch Like Hollywood?

    The authors of Pitch Like Hollywood are Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis.

    What to read after Pitch Like Hollywood?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Pitch Like Hollywood, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield
    • Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
    • The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr
    • Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg
    • Sales Pitch by April Dunford
    • The Storytelling Edge by Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas
    • Filterworld by Kyle Chayka
    • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod