I'm just back from the Pitch Fest - it was cheaper than Expo in vacation days - and I have to say that all writers should go there at least once. It is a great Conference. The first day you sign up for 10 pitch meetings, but you can get more at no extra charge.
After signup, you hang out and ask questions of screenwriters consultants and industry people. This go-round, they had Adam Rifkin (Look), Preston A. Whitmore (Fled), David Benioff (Troy) and John August (Go) showed up to replace Oliver Stone.
We had a brilliant pitch expert, Allen B. Ury, but unfortunately he suffered a medical problem and had to leave in an ambulance - last word is he's fine. Later in the day, you are given the opportunity to present 30 pages of a script to major agencies to try and get repped. It's hard to say what will happen though because of the potential for a strike.
The agencies, William Morris, CAA and others had a panel for questions about how to get repped. Of course, it's "write great scripts," but they had a lot of interesting stories about how they made it and I found it amazing how many came from a law background.
I for one, found that the best part was Saturday as it's great to talk to people who had made movies. You get a real feel for what's entailed. Unfortunately, most didn't hang out as I guess they didn't want to pitched while having beers with us.
If there's anything I did learn from the weekend it's that YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER PITCH to someone who is there to talk. Don't ask them to read anything either. Talk about your process, or your goals. They will be much more receptive and may even ask you "what have you written?"
A lot more execs would blog, etc if they knew writers just wanted to "talk shop."
But anyway, Sunday was the big day. At least 10 pitches and as many as 20 were possible as some people missed their meetings and they just slotted someone else in. That is definitely worth the $40 cheeseburger dinner I had at the hotel.
The day started out pretty well as the script I was most confident in got reactions like "I can pitch this" and "it's got a high concept to it." That was my first pitch. It went just as well for the others, though I was really there to interact and network rather than sell a script.
I got about 6 business cards and have started sending out the requested material. It is TERRIBLY unfortunate that the strike will more than likely happen which means that signatories HAVE TO stop buying as soon as a strike is called, but it will give me more time to complete more specs in different genres.
The pitch day went from 10AM to 6PM, though the wild fires did cause some problems with people not making it or being late. I think I had about 16 pitch opportunities and only one was a complete failure. I could have pushed more, but it seemed like the exec was either tired or just an asshole so I just pitched it to someone else and if the hook I came up with works, this movie is almost GUARANTEED to get made - or at least bought. With the nature, or should I say scope of the project, it's worth mid six-figures, so wish me luck.
At any rate, my poor little beautiful "coming-of-age, fish-out-of-water" drama is beloved still until it's time to pay up. It's really the first movie I want to make in terms of desire. I talk about it here all the time and I think I might extracts of it here.
Anyway, I highly recommend the February and July versions of this Conference. It's definitely worth $295, especially if you live near Beverly Hills as you don't need to get the $200/night room. Well, I guess you could find cheaper hotel but it's not worth the travel at 7AM. There are even actual execs, whereas I've heard that assistants show up to other Pitch-Fests. I can't verify that as this is my first, but I will definitely go back.
Monday, October 29, 2007