Script Coverage Chronicles – March 2018: Pitch Meetings – Surviving The “Cold Room”

A few years ago, I brought a pitch for a feature film to several studios.  The pitch played well enough at Fox, Sony and Universal, but DreamWorks was a very different story. 

The producer I was working with had a name for our meeting at DreamWorks: a “cold room”.  
It was clear from the start that this one executive at DreamWorks wasn’t taking the pitch seriously.  I wasn’t even sure he was listening.  He had his phone out.  He was checking his texts, and emails, and catching up on the news.  And then it was over.  That was it. 

A cold room.

It’s very easy for new writers to get discouraged after facing a cold room, but it shouldn’t be discouraging.  Here’s why:

It’s Part Of The Business

Some producers and executives are very welcoming and won’t even let on that they don’t like your pitch.  In fact, even if they hate it, you’ll walk out thinking, “I’m about to sell this!” 

But that’s definitely not everybody’s style.  Some in the industry are more frank.  Some will cut you off as soon as they decide the concept isn’t for them.  And some will just sit there looking bored as you deliver the entire agonizing pitch.

There are a number of possible reasons to find oneself in a cold room.

Sometimes the person you’re meeting with is just having a bad day. 

And sometimes your pitch just strikes the wrong emotional chord. 

Pitching is sales, and your audience doesn’t always want what you’re selling. 

It happens.

Brush it off, and move on.

Pitch Meetings Are More About Relationships Anyway

The one thing you just shouldn’t do in a cold room is get huffy.  I had a producer say to me once (in a casual conversation about the industry) that producers can get away with acting jerky to writers, but – fair or not – it just doesn’t work the other way around.  You have to keep your cool, even when you’re feeling insulted.

One way to keep your cool is to remember that meetings are much more about relationships than about specific projects.

Just because a producer or executive doesn’t like your pitch doesn’t mean that person is writing you off as a writer. I know it can feel like that in the room, but it’s just not true. 

Just relax and stay friendly, and hopefully the people you’re meeting with will be open to working with you again in the future, because it’s so often the second or the third meeting that leads to success, and not the first.

A Pitch Isn’t Over Until It’s Over

I remember meeting with two producers, and I was tossing out ideas, and one of them literally rolled her eyes at one of my loglines. 

I wanted to give up on this one.  Rolling eyes is tough feedback. 


But you can’t quit, even in a cold room. 

I kept pitching and did get both producers to laugh at one gag near the end.  That small victory kept the door open for the future, and that’s what actually matters the most.