X + Y = you(r script)

Two individual great things combine to make a new great thing
Two individual great things combine to make a new great thing

Scenario time! You find yourself in the mythical elevator with the even more mythical open-minded Hollywood exec. Their attention is all yours for the next 30 seconds. Your moment to shine is at hand!

You give ’em your honed-to-perfection logline. They react with raised eyebrows, a slight tilt of the head and an intrigued “Hmm.” The fish is nibbling at that hook, but the deal ain’t sealed yet.

“How would you pitch that?” they ask. “What’s your X meets Y?”

In other words, what two movies does your script incorporate elements from while telling a unique and original story?

I’ve read arguments both for and against doing this. Personally, I don’t have anything against doing it, but usually try to avoid it, preferring to let the logline do the selling.

But sometimes you’re going to need those two points of reference to offer up a stronger idea of what somebody can expect from your story.

It’s also important to name films that are well-known, successful or both. Avoid box office flops and the obscure at all costs! There’s also the question of timeliness, but I’ll get into that in a second.

Case in point: The folks at the Tracking Board Launchpad gave each semifinalist script it’s own landing page, featuring a thumbnail sketch of details (logline, genre, contact info, etc.)

Part of what they wanted from the writers was their “X meets Y” pitch.

Since I couldn’t go with the phrase that served as my mantra during the writing process (retro sci-fi steampunk pirates), I thought “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN meets STAR WARS” summed it up nicely.

The response was that this was just “okay”, but the story didn’t seem as reminiscent of STAR WARS. Maybe there was another film that was more similar?

Fortunately for me, K was right there next to me during this exchange and suggested “How about ‘PIRATES meets THE LAST STARFIGHTER?'”

Yeah, that works. Definitely a stronger connection with my script on several levels.

Maybe my only nit to pick is that it’s not the most recent of films. 1984, to be precise. Almost 30 years old(!). But it’s still pretty well-known and is usually mentioned as part of “they don’t make ’em like that anymore”, so 2 points in my favor. If you’ve never seen it, you should really make a point to do so.

(And just to put it in perspective, STAR WARS is over 35 years old, but is probably a little more in the public eye.)

So take a look at your script. Put some thought into what best makes up your “X meets Y”.

That way, the next time someone asks “How would you pitch that?”, you’re ready to go.