A Divine Appointment: Pitching to the Christian Film Industry

Sometimes, God may be moving us in a direction we didn’t plan on or aren’t comfortable pursuing. When an opportunity arises, is it a rabbit trail or a Divine appointment? Whether to accommodate it depends on how well your radar works.

At the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, I was on a mission to obtain interviews and exposure for my 2023 novel The Persistent Road. But a foreign blip popped up on my radar, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Nevertheless, it would lead to a Divine appointment.

Instructions from Total Strangers

On Day 1, a woman stopped me on my return from lunch.

“Are you going to pitch?” she said.

I glimpsed movie-industry credentials below her nametag. “I want to look into screenwriting but haven’t had the time.”

“No, no.” She looked straight through me. “You need to go pitch.”

“All the slots were taken when I registered.”

She shifted on her feet. “No. You just need to go up there and pitch. People back out all the time. Go find the tall guy and see if you can get in.”

Too stunned to read her nametag, I nodded, and we parted.

The next day, I approached a booth with film producers in it. “Do you know anything about the pitch-a-thon? I have no clue how it works.”

“You come right in here and sit down.”

I did.

“Now, pitch me.”


“Just tell me about your book.”

I bumbled through a trial run. She liked the story idea, but the pitch was too long. Only five minutes. I handed her a copy of The Persistent Road and took her card.

That evening I spent a couple of hours narrowing down the book’s synopsis to a five-minute read.

On the final day, amid the mayhem of book signings, seeking interviews, and a bustling crowd, I caught the last few minutes of a workshop on pitching a movie idea – enough to realize that reading a synopsis wouldn’t work.

Then I was off to my scheduled NRB book signing.

With little traffic to my signing outpost, two film industry experts happened to approach me. They elaborated on pitching, then took copies of The Persistent Road, one of them promising feedback after reading the book.

A Man Named Max

Based on their advice – and the opinion of an early reader of The Persistent Road who’d said the story would make a great movie – I went to the registration desk to see if I could access the pitch-a-thon. The attendant gave me the phone number of someone named Max. No answer, so I texted:

“Hi Max. People at NRB have urged me to pitch my novel to the film industry. I can be on standby after 3:45-ish. Is there a path forward for me for a possible pitch session?”

He responded:

“Most slots are taken. You can come by and see, but unfortunately I can’t promise.”

After helping tear down our booth, I wandered upstairs to the Governor’s ballroom around four o’clock, where the 3:30–5:30 pitch-a-thon was well underway. A crowd had gathered outside the ballroom’s closed doors, people pacing and fidgeting, staring at paper or devices in their hands, as a distinguished-looking man at a lectern called off names from a sheet of paper in front of him.

The cycle repeated itself every seven minutes when he announced the official time of the next pitch. I discreetly scanned badges for “Max” but found none.

“Is James Fishbein here?” After glancing around, the man said, “Roaring Lion. Who wants Roaring Lion?”

“Will they take a script?” someone said.

The man studied the paper in front of him. “They want finished product.”

“I’ll take it,” a random voice said. Then he filed in line as the next name was called.

And on it went: The sound of company names that meant nothing to me; Names of individuals who’d preregistered; And inquiries of what each company was looking for, followed by the words “finished product.”

A book is a finished product. But these companies are looking for plug-and-play video.

Hanging Out

I felt like an uninvited intruder in a foreign land, unable to understand the language and unaware of what everyone was doing and what was going on behind those closed doors.

I approached a fellow author, Trudy. “Are you pitching?”

“Yes. I have four scheduled.”

I watched as group after group exited the room, replaced in equal numbers by groups entering, the door slamming shut behind them. “Finished product” interspersed with names was all I heard from the man in charge.

Trudy emerged from her first pitch. “That was the fastest five minutes I have ever experienced.” She stared as if in a fog.

“How did it go?”

She wasn’t sure, but the person had asked for more information. She rubbed her forehead.

“That sounds encouraging,” I said.

Exhausted from three days of lugging twenty pounds up, down, and around the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center, I set my luggage against the wall. After studying the scene and soliciting help from distracted people whose time of reckoning loomed, it dawned on me to pull out a one-sheet and a copy of my book, should that man at the lectern look my way and no one else speak up.

I sat and browsed my phone for a few articles on how to pitch.

Soon, the clock said time was running out. The crowd was also thinning.

With unebbing bewilderment, I stepped closer to the action.

“Okay. This is our final time slot,” the man said.

I took another step closer.

“Rangoon. Does anyone want Rangoon?”

After a momentary silence, I raised my book and flashed the front cover at the man. “Finished product?” I forced out of my mouth.

He shrugged.

“I’m not registered, but I’ll take it.”

“Rear right.” He looked down at his paper.

“I’ll take Rangoon,” a woman next to me said.

The man looked up and gestured my way. “He’s already got it.” Then the shadow of a smile crept across his cheeks before he spoke the next name.

My pulse quickened.

The Pitch

The door opened. After a group filed out of the room, I was in a parade entering it. I turned right, then left, sweat forming on my brow. As I approached the back of the room, I saw the sign on the table. Rangoon Films. A man slouching in his chair stared at me.

I extended my hand and introduced myself. While he didn’t sit up, his outstretched hand met mine. He looked like he’d endured a daylong lecture on income taxes and couldn’t wait for the misery to end.

“What do we have here?”

“It’s a book. Published.” I sat. “It’s about a man who loses all he once cherished and embarks on an epic bicycling adventure to find out if life is still worth living.”

His blank stare drilled me.

I explained the story and gave away a few spoilers. No sense in saving any ammo.

His piercing brown eyes didn’t blink. Is he even listening? I glimpsed his wavy grayish locks above them and a darker two-day beard below them.

Finally, I paused. Am I doing this all wrong? He must have something to say.

He didn’t.

I described the book’s awards and high-value endorsements. Then I waited. He must have a question.

“Sounds like a great story.” He looked at the book in my hand. “Is that for me?”

I wiped a streak of sweat from the front cover and handed it to him.

“I’ll see if there’s a movie in here.” Then he pointed me to his email address on a piece of paper taped to the table. “I’ll need a month.”

I thanked him, snapped a picture of his email address, and marched out of the room, heart thumping. First one out, well short of the time allotted.

The Aftermath

My pitch may result in nothing more than learning how to do one. Anything beyond that is a bonus. God orchestrating a Divine appointment was reward enough. I’m at peace with this important lesson: nothing will stop Him from accomplishing His purposes, even when He uses vessels distracted with their own ideas, slow to recognize His guidance, or unsure how to obey.

Saturday morning, I awoke to a text message:

“Hi Tim. Did you get to pitch?”

It was Max. His considerate query deserved more than a one-word response. I began with “God worked a miracle.”

Max said the person I pitched was “legit” and then identified himself. I’d been texting with a prominent figure in the industry. A servant leader!

Keep a channel on your radar tuned heavenward. Then heed the foreign blip. It may be a Divine appointment and a blessing in disguise.

Editorial note: Other than mine, the names in this article were fictitious. The story, however, was true.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “A Divine Appointment: Pitching to the Christian Film Industry”

  1. Tim,

    Somehow my computer stopped when I was typing this a few minutes ago so here I am again!

    Sounds like you had quite an experience. When I was there with Unshackled a number of times, I was always overwhelmed. I was particularly interested on your experience “pitching” when you finally got to see someone. I laughed at the comment, “He looked like he’d endured a day long lecture in income tax and couldn’t wait for the misery to end.” You have to put that line in your next book! We’re working with a new tax person and she is so detailed, we feel the same way!

    I’ll be in touch. Have a good week,


    1. Kim, it’s good to hear from you. What an experience! Time will tell what comes out of it. And yes, the tax man cometh in 13 more days!
      Thank you for subscribing. I appreciate your interest.

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