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Moonshot Initiative Wants To Help You Pitch Your Pilot in Hollywood

April 12, 2024
6 min read time

Getting into a room to pitch your ideas for a new series is the dream for screenwriters. These meetings are a big part of selling scripts, landing writing assignments, or breaking into writers' rooms in Hollywood, but getting into the room can seem impossible.

Luckily, that’s where the Moonshot Initiative comes in. Founded and executive-directed by filmmakers Katrina Medoff and Tracy Sayre, the Moonshot Initiative, formerly Women’s Weekend Film Challenge, is a nonprofit creating opportunities for women and non-binary people in Hollywood.

Partnering with Final Draft for their latest initiative, the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator, six to eight emerging TV writers will train for three weeks before setting them up with one-on-one pitch meetings with major studios, production companies, and representatives from HBO, Netflix, Starz, Amazon Studios/Prime Video, Gersh, and many more. On top of the amazing opportunity to pitch projects, the Moonshot Initiative will gift each fellow Final Draft software. Applications for the program are open now, but the deadline is quickly approaching.

Medoff and Sayre spoke with Final Draft about how the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator program can help TV writers like you, what fellows should expect if selected, and how to make sure your applications stand out in this highly competitive program.

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Getting Women and Non-Binary People In the Room

Despite women making up half of the population, women only represent 35.2% of pilot and development writers, according to the WGA. “Often, men are in the position of being the gatekeepers to the television industry, which impacts which stories are told on screen,” Sayre says. 

Moonshot Initiative is looking to change this number by bringing stories from underrepresented writers into the room. 

The accelerator program helps women and non-binary TV writers confidently and effectively pitch their projects through feedback on their pitches from three expert perspectives: a showrunner, a development executive, and a speech coach. “Plus, they participate in a mock writers’ room and have Q&As with an entertainment lawyer and an agent. That way, they go into Pitch Week confident not only because of their polished pitches but also because of their better understanding of the industry,” Medoff says. 

“It’s difficult, if not impossible, for writers to get pitch meetings without representation or TV credits, even if they’re undeniably talented,” Sayre says. “With the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator, we’re breaking down barriers so that women and non-binary writers are able to share their unique stories in one-on-one pitch meetings and make career-changing industry connections.”

Moonshot Initiative co-founder Katrina Medoff with seven of the 2023 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator fellows

The Success of the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator

Since the 2021 and 2023 accelerators, several fellows have made a name for themselves in Hollywood by getting staffed, receiving representation, breaking into writers’ rooms, or becoming mentees to showrunners. And it all started with the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator.

“These days, you can find our alums staffed in writers’ rooms, winning awards for their debut feature films, and developing scripts with major producers,” Medoff says. The success of the accelerator program comes from talented writers like you being exposed to a diverse panel of industry judges who are at the top of their fields and are looking to help women and non-binary writers make their big break.

“We’ve been told by multiple execs that our fellows’ pitches were more polished than many of the pitches they typically see—and 85% of last year’s pitch meetings ended with a request to read the script,” Sayre says. While the program helps TV writers take the next step in their writing careers, the Moonshot Initiative will continue to grow its relationship with its fellows, supporting them throughout their careers.

“Last month, we were able to connect one of our past fellows with a development exec who was staffing a writers’ room, and we’ve set up several pitch meetings even after Pitch Week had ended,” Medoff says. “We really believe in our fellows and want to do everything in our power to help them succeed!”

Plus, our fellows stay intimately involved with the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator,” Sayre adds. “We hire fellows to help us select the quarter-finalists for the next accelerator, and all of the fellows have a mentorship meeting with the upcoming cohort. We host meetups so fellows from every year can get to know one another, and each cohort has an active group chat to this day!”

Several Moonshot Pilot Accelerator fellows from our 2021 and 2023 cohorts meet up in person in Los Angeles

What Are the Judges Looking For? 

The Moonshot Pilot Accelerator is a dream opportunity that many women and non-binary writers are vying for. With 1,371 applicants in the first two years alone, the competition is steep. Luckily, Medoff and Sayre have advice for writers looking to stand out.

“We know we’ve read an amazing pilot when, after putting down the script, we find ourselves wanting to watch episode 2—and then we remember that the series doesn’t exist yet!” Sayre says. “Our mission is to increase the representation of women and non-binary people on screen and behind the camera, so we want to read the types of stories we haven’t seen on screen yet.”

Your TV pilot should have strong writing that jumps off the page, impressing the industry judges who read the semi-finalists’ scripts and executives and representatives who hear the fellows’ pitches.

But the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator is also looking beyond the script.

Woman Working in Home Office; Moonshot Initiative Wants To Help You Pitch Your Pilot in Hollywood

“We love reading our applicants’ answers to the question, ‘Why is now the time to tell this story, and why are you the one to tell it?’ When writers share their personal connection to their project, that’s when their passion and personality shine through the most—which is why it’s usually the most compelling part of a pitch,” Medoff says. “Let us know what sparked your idea!”

As for any tips, before you send in your application for the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator, Sayre recommends using paragraph breaks to your advantage. “Often, we see writers approaching their pilot scripts as if they were novels, with huge, descriptive blocks of text. You can use paragraph breaks to your advantage; it’s a great way to build tension or emphasize a comedic moment!”

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Applications for the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator are open through the final deadline of April 14, 2024. Learn more about the program and other opportunities offered by Moonshot on their website, and submit via Coverfly or FilmFreeway.

Read More: Writing Your Way to Success: Wisdom From the Women in Entertainment Summit

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