From Pitch to Premiere: Exploring the Journey of Storytelling with Pitch! Podcast Hosts with Leah Saint Marie and Angel Daahoud Murphy

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Diving into the vibrant realm of storytelling, Pitch! Podcast stands as a beacon for aspiring and seasoned creators alike. In an exclusive interview, Leah Saint Marie and Angel Daahoud Murphy, the dynamic hosts behind this enlightening venture, offer insights into the intricacies of pitching, screenwriting, and the rollercoaster journey of filmmaking. With a unique blend of expertise and passion, they provide a platform where the magic of storytelling meets the practicalities of the industry.

In this interview, we'll unravel the secrets behind their podcast, where listeners gain invaluable access to real pitches and captivating table reads, all curated by seasoned writers and actors.

PH: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting the podcast Pitch! and how you both got involved in the world of pitching and storytelling? 

Leah Saint Marie: As a journalist, I knew how important pitching was in a room as this is something we had to do on a daily basis; pitch our ideas to the editor. It was brutal, but I learned a lot of lessons in this environment. Screenwriting is no different. Angel and I already knew this, but then going through the Sundance Collab, it was hammered in. After the Collab, we were even more ready for our stories to gain some traction, but realized we needed to work even harder on our pitching because no one was going to read a script when they could listen to a pitch. 

Angel Daahoud Murphy: My inspiration for starting Pitch! came from the realization that there is no repository of pitches and that pitching happens more in this business than reading full scripts. I realized I had read hundreds of scripts but had only heard a few pitches. 

PH: As co-hosts, what have you learned about the art of pitching from your guests and their pitches? 

Leah Saint Marie: I've learned that there are a myriad of ways to pitch a story and it all depends on who's pitching it. I think having Stephan Hornyak on, and learning that he not only does audience testing on films, but also scripts, was important. I’ve learned that every storyteller can benefit from peer review, and that feedback makes the script that much tighter. 

Angel Daahoud Murphy: Really effective pitching, at least the kind that resonates with me, is similar across the board regardless of what is being pitched. Also, a really good pitch is good from the jump, which is similar to a really good script or movie. They're good from the beginning. 

PH: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are looking to perfect their pitching skills? 

Leah Saint Marie: Well, listen to our podcast (laughs). Other than that, there are so many resources out there that are free, like podcasts, scripts, books. Mainly, I'd say the best thing to do is to write something, get a few rounds of notes on it, rewrite it, send it to brand new people and get their notes on it, then rewrite it again. Then it's somewhere close to being ready to send to contests, readers, and producers.

Angel Daahoud Murphy: Listen to Pitch! and practice pitching with everyone you can. Don't be annoying, but shape up quick verbal pitches and then grab someone's ear and ask if you can share a story idea you're working on with them and gauge their reaction. Then repeat. 

PH: Could you share an interesting behind-the-scenes moment or story from the podcast's production? 

Leah Saint Marie: Half of our podcast is a premium portion where we do a table read with actors on the first three pages of a writer's script. I was printing out the scripts the day before so it would be done and I could focus on other tasks. I ran out to buy more paper (we print like 700 pages because each actor gets their own copy of the script, plus we do almost an entire season in one session). When I came home, no pages had been printed. My printer broke. I spent the next five hours trying to get pages to print. I'm a type-A personality, so this was devastating to me. I was on the phone with the printer tech person, my friend John, and Angel, until past midnight trying to get this damn thing to print. It didn’t. The entire machine was broken. So, I got to Angel's house early on production day and printed everything at his place. His printer would spit out about ten pages at a time, then I had to wait awhile for it to cool down and decide to print more pages. It took hours. Well, I got the 700 pages printed fifteen minutes before production. What a headache. 

PH: Can you discuss the role of feedback and critique in the pitching process, both for the writers and the performers? 

Leah Saint Marie: As I mentioned before, feedback helps inform where in the story something is missing. If enough people agree about a note, then pay attention to that note. It's almost always hard to receive feedback and critique so just know (hopefully) the person giving feedback only wants to make your story better. 

Angel Daahoud Murphy: Feedback is paramount to refining a pitch. You're ultimately creating a pitch for other people to experience, so you need to shape what you're doing with at least some outside observation and critique. 

PH: What are some upcoming themes or special episodes that listeners can look forward to on Pitch!

Leah Saint Marie: We have a fun episode where we play a pitching game with Liz Hannah. High stakes. High reward. All around good time.

Angel Daahoud Murphy: I think all of our episodes are special. I'm looking forward to chatting with my friend, and Academy Award-nominated writer Jim Mahoney, and also talking with Franklin Leonard. 

PH: As co-hosts, how do you approach the task of fostering a sense of community and engagement among your listeners? 

Leah Saint Marie: I make myself available to listeners mainly on Twitter. I have contests, giveaways, and answer questions that come my way about writing or the industry. You can find me @leahwelch19. 

Angel Daahoud Murphy: Leah is really great about connecting with people on social media. I'm a bit newer to the social media platforms, but I'm available too. 

PH: Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for the future of the Pitch! podcast, and how do you plan to continue growing and evolving? 

Leah Saint Marie: Right now we've stopped part of our podcast because of the writer's strike. So, the premium part of our podcast that involves pitching is on hold until the strike ends, because we agreed that we won't encourage scab work, and our writers don't want to be scabs. We're looking forward to starting that part of the podcast up again as soon as the strike ends. We'd also love to have a live show at the Austin Film Festival. We think it would be fun to be in front of an audience, have a guest or two, and answer questions from our audience, in front of our audience. Plus, AFF has such a great community of writers that it would be cool to be involved with that in any way.

Angel’s Bio: 

Angel Murphy is a native to southern California. An aspiring polymath, Angel is son to an aerospace engineer mother and a musician father. He started shooting films on Super8 in the late 90s and has since explored many aspects of filmmaking from acting to screenwriting to directing. As a bi-racial filmmaker he strives to tell powerful stories that reflect the multicultural world he has experienced his entire life. 

Leah’s Bio: 

Leah Saint Marie is an investigative journalist turned filmmaker. During her time as a reporter for the Innocence Institute she helped exonerate a man from prison who had spent 25 years wrongfully convicted. As a filmmaker she wrote the award-winning documentary, Price of Honor, which got Yaser Said on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted (the documentary led to his eventual arrest in 2021). Her script, Spoonful of Sugar, premiered at Fantastic Fest (2022) and was sold to Shudder where you may now stream it. Her short film, Good Girl, won the Paris International Film Festival, the Balkan Film Festival and was honorable mention in the Australian Film Festival. For two years she served as a field producer for the social justice documentary film company, Brave New Films, where she traveled around the United States on a Ford grant interviewing youth activists. Her poetry book, The Eaten, is being published in Fall 2023 through April Gloaming Publishing. She’s producing the podcasts, Before the Fade, and Pitch! set for release in 2023. She’s set to direct her next feature film, Teatro dell’Amore in Italy in 2024. She currently lives and writes in Los Angeles, CA, along with her cat, Edith Piaf.

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