‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’

A wiser man than me (ok, it was Albert Einstein apparently) once said this about film pitches. Alright, it wasn’t about pitches exactly, but it seems to apply anyhow. You should be able to distil a pitch down to very few words, but also expand upon it when necessary – like one of those magic facecloths that expand when you put them into water (that quote is all mine).

My job when designing a pitch deck is to take that clear sense of the project and create a design style which brings it to life in a way which complements the text content of the pitch.

The workflow can be similar to that for creating a poster, but there are some different considerations. So to help you develop a better understanding, I’d like to share my process for designing a pitch deck – and guide you towards pitching with confidence.

Step One: Initial Discussion & Brief

I like to start with an informal chat about the project. The client isn’t pitching to me so there’s no pressure – and they can throw ideas at me in an ad hoc fashion if they like. We’ll discuss the content they want to include – if they have the copy for this already that’s useful, but otherwise just headings (e.g. Logline, Cast Wish List, Budget) are fine.

We’ll also talk about the design style. There’s a lot more freedom to be quirky with a deck than a poster – so it’s good to know how off-the-wall – or not – a client wants to be. The client may have reference material indicating tone and mood that they want to point me in the direction of.

With a pitch deck, it’s important for me to know who the audience for this package is. Is it to attract investors, creative collaborators or both? This can affect both the style and the length of the deck. We should also consider how the pitch will be presented – for instance, will it be part of an initial contact by email or is it something that will accompany a live pitch meeting?

As with any other project, the more information I have on it, the easier I will find it to do it justice.

The meeting will usually end by making a project plan and agreeing on a timeframe.

Step Two: Moodboard

A moodboard is an important space for the client and I to collate imagery and design to inspire the look of the pitch deck. There are less examples of pitch decks than posters available in the wider world, so if I haven’t already – I will usually share previous decks I have created (with the content redacted, of course).

If the client is happy to, then it is especially useful if they also contribute to the moodboard – either by adding their own images or by commenting on those I have added. Written content and verbal descriptions can be interpreted in a variety of ways, so the visual language of the moodboard is key to making sure that we are on the same page.

By this stage, I am starting to get a sense of the client too. Whether they are a producer, director, writer or other creator – be mindful that their pitch is also a presentation of them.

Step Three: Concept Sketches

Next, using our discussions and moodboard as a basis, I will create a number of rough designs (usually three) for the client to pick from. These unrefined concepts will usually consist of a title page and a sample content page.

I present my designs together with existing imagery to give an idea of the final product. As mentioned earlier, pitch deck examples are not commonplace – so the imagery may include film posters, artwork, photography or even advertising.

The client then chooses one design for me to develop. They may begin to add their own feedback at this stage and/or may ask for aspects that they liked from the other designs to be incorporated too.

Step Four: Feedback and Finishing

The fourth stage is sharing a more polished version of the design. This isn’t the end of the process however, as now that it is taking shape, the client will see more clearly the adjustments they’d like to make.

There’s usually some back and forth, so I usually include 3 rounds of amends as part of a pitch deck design package. I encourage the client to spend some time thinking about changes they’d like to make – then grouping their thoughts before sending their feedback as additional rounds of amends come with an additional cost.

Step Five: Delivery

When the client has signed off the final design, I will deliver it securely using their preferred file format/s. For a pitch deck, files might be needed in more than one format – for instance, files for sending to print and files for sharing digitally.

Hopefully this has provided a useful insight into the creation of a pitch deck and how you can make the most of the process.

Pitch deck cover examples

If you’ve got a project you’d like to discuss developing a pitch deck for, feel free to drop me a line at adam@strelka.co.uk.