Also called clip-o-matics, mood reels or tone reels, these handy tools are used as visual aids during pitch meetings.   Rian Johnson shows in the reel above what the movie Looper would look like.  A rip-o-matic is a mash-up of clips from produced sources a filmmaker uses to help sell a story by getting the viewer to understand to basic mood, tone, structure or energy of the project.

“But I’m a writer.  Why do I need one?”

Do you know how many writers have stories?  Good stories?  And great agents?  Who are connected to power players who can make a green light happen over a trip to Starbucks?  Yes, that many.  And who are you again?

Just the writer.  With few credits and a good – excuse me – great script.  You need a visual tool to help your story stand out in the mind of who ever you pitch to.  A one sheet was enough back in the day.  As long as it came with a referral and an executive with the courage to champion a favorite project.  Not anymore.

You’re on your own, kid.  You need to make your mark by making your mark.  Create a video presentation in any way you can to show the executive, agent or producer what they’re buying and why they need this story, or (more importantly) why they need you.

A pitch document is a start, like a leave behind with more pages – especially for a series that requires multi-seasonal arcs and episodes.  But the overall effect – the Wow! factor  is how you want your project to be the one the execs can’t stop thinking about.  What they play on a loop.

These days most pitches include a video presentation – a sizzle reel – for the buyers to get a sample of the finished project.  This is frequently for reality TV, but common to all areas of media production.

The rip-o-matic is the easiest to create when you have no money to produce your own trailer, sizzle pitch or concept video.  Yes, technically you are stealing work product from the studio, network or copyright owner.  Normally, I would say don’t steal ever, but in this case executives and producers know this reel is to help them visualize the final project and if it gets them excited about working with you they don’t mind using the clips.

I’m in the process of making a rip-o-matic for a producer I’m pitching to.  I’m not going to lie, it’s a bitch.  The steps are simple enough. All you do is create a trailer of your project whether it is a feature, series or game. Write it, storyboard it they way you would if producing a real trailer, then the hard part.  Scour every resource you have to find images to fit the trailer.  Adding voice over helps to make the reel your own as opposed to just a bunch of clips. Include inspirational music as long as you are only using this reel for pitching purposes.  Remember, this is a tool for your pitch not for public consumption.

There is affordable editing software to help you cut it.  I’m using Adobe Premiere.   It’s a tedious process, but worth the effort.  I hope.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  If you have a rip-o-matic story or reel you’d like to share, please pass it along.  This is all new for emerging screenwriters and we need all the tools we can get.

In the mean time here’s another rip-o-matic to inspire you.

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