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Pitch a Movie About African American History

Students will select a famous African American or event in African American history and write a pitch to turn that story into a movie.

PROCESS:

  1. Tell students that before any movie can be made, one thing has to be done: Someone has to pitch the idea to those who will make the movie. They have to sell their idea and convince the buyers it will be a success. And they don't have much time to do this.
  2. Explain that the first thing you have to do when writing a pitch is to grab people's attention. Write one or two sentences, or a logline, that captures the big idea by summarizing the core conflict and leaves buyers wanting to learn more.
  3. Then, you must write a brief outline of your idea. Don't tell the whole story, but do introduce the main characters and summarize the plot. Emphasize key details or moments that make your story unique and worth watching.
  4. The final step is presentation. Remember, you are selling your idea. Be confident. Be enthusiastic. Present your idea and answer any questions the buyers have with brief, accurate answers.
  5. Have students identify a famous African American or a notable event in African American history. Instruct them to conduct research to learn about their topic and then write a pitch-both logline and outline-to turn that story into a movie.
  6. Invite students to pitch their ideas to the class. Encourage classmates to ask questions about each idea. Challenge presenters to give brief, accurate answers.

ASSESSMENT:

After all ideas have been presented, have students discuss the merits of each pitch they heard. Then have the class vote to choose the idea most students would like to see made into a movie. Discuss reasons why students think this movie would be a success.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, select one famous African American. Divide the class into small groups. Give groups time to conduct research to learn about the person and then write a pitch for a movie based on that person's life. Compare and contrast the results.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to select one famous African American or event in African American history. Give groups time to conduct research to learn about the person or event. Then have them write a pitch for a movie based on the person's life or event they selected.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Have each pair select famous person in African American history. Give partners time to conduct research to learn about that person's life. Instruct them to analyze the information they collected and decide how best to boil it down for a two-hour movie. Then have them write a pitch to turn their idea into a movie. Remind students that movie executives have very busy schedules. Challenge them to present their ideas in less than three minutes.
Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Have each pair select notable event in African American history. Give partners time to conduct research to learn as much as possible about that event. Instruct them to analyze the information they collected and decide how best to boil it down for a two-hour movie. Then have them write a pitch to turn their idea into a movie. Challenge students to write a strong one-sentence logline and a brief outline that takes no more than three minutes to present.