Okay, I have been to one of these: Great American Pitchfest back in 2010. It was an amazing experience and I have been extended a lot of respect for attending one. People look at you differently … with disbelief, wonder or pity, I can’t discern.
I flew in from Italy, so the trek was not a short one. Upon my arrival at the Marriott in Los Angeles, I met a guy named Chris Moloney (who is just a great guy … seriously easy to like!) and we proceeded to drink too much and have too much fun, talking about writing and the industry (of which I knew little). During the course of the GAPF, I endured a hangover mixed with the naseau of nakedly presenting my most precious of life’s works to strangers who largely couldn’t give a shit. Not to scare the faint of heart: remember that most producers just aren’t looking for what you’ve written at THAT particular moment. I tried to pick companies who had made films like mine, of course. I would say I pitched to about 10-12 companies that day and had 2 be very interested. I deign the two as “interested” by the following acts: One gave me her personal contact info and the other (Village Roadshow) told me I was in the top 5 pitches for the day. It was the end of the day when I pitched to Village Roadshow and they were pretty animated in their excitement. I was pumped. On a side note, it was two other attendees I had mingled with previously who tipped me off that pitching to Roadshow was a good idea. They knew I had a big budget film and that’s what Roadshow was looking for. Socializing helps … I never heard from Roadshow, however. Khhhhhaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnn!!!!!
Also of note, I was pitching Spires of Aurora, which is my big budget, scifi/adventure screenplay. Big budget films are harder to sell since fewer producers can afford them.
If you are looking for inspiration, I highly recommend the On the Page podcast by Pilar Alessandria (who is totally gorgeous, by the way!). Her podcasts make you feel like you are at the bar after work with a bunch of people living and breathing the industry you seek to join! After about 100 of these, I felt confident I knew how to get in to writing … and a lot of it had to do with wuck.
Wuck: Working your ass off, writing a lot and marketing yourself, so that one day in an elevator when you meet a Producer you have material to show them. Not really luck … wuck.
Many of you may take offense to the word luck, but if we point at some of the folks in the business and the movies that get made, I think you may acquiesce. Great works do not put you in that Producer-who-finally-gets-you’s inbox! Write because you love it and market your ass off. Be cool to others and know absolutely that your writing career will go from zero to hero in a night. The most common tale I hear is that one day you have no career and the next you’re immersed in work, attention and deadlines. Booyah! (I got to meet Pilar at the pitchfest and told her how inspirational she’d been to me as I helped her move some chairs! Not sure if she felt that as a thanks or an OMG-get-this-stalker-away-from-me vibe! 🙂 )
Oh yeah, another guy who struck me as awesome at the GAPF was Shane Black. He wrote Lethal Weapon, etc. He was on an open panel taking questions about the industry and was dressed informally and in a baseball cap. Just a down-to-earth guy … liked him immediately. He also seemed equally frustrated with questions attendees were asking. Again, I am talking about the wuck factor. IN MY OPINION, lay folk show these guys a lot of respect and come looking for answers many times these nice, famous guys don’t have. I think their discomfort is born from the fact that many talented people will not be discovered for a variety of reasons. Shane fidgeted in frustration just like me when people asked how you get discovered, etc. Wuck, people! Wuck! People with ideas far more intoxicating than mine will never be discovered because they won’t market or socialize those ideas! Do it, work, work, make your own film, join a contest, invest in story art, network, work, get lucky and you will get discovered! When you get noticed, you will look back and say it was anything but luck. It was wuck. Like trying to hit a 1000-meter target with an uzi: If you keep reloading and shooting, when you hit the target 4 years later, was it luck??? I don’t know, man, there’s a lot of fucking brass on the ground …!
My writing has transformed since the pitchfest. As writing has become more of a habit, I am less interested in a quick sale. We all put a lot of work into the stories we create and, yes I will say it, love and tears. Do we really want to see something bought and potentially cannibalized? I guess I would rather score with a quickie RomCom and save my true favorites for when I have clout enough to see them done right. Or, if not done right, then maybe produced and directed by my bumbling hands.
I love what I’ve written and know the stories will be appreciated … someday … possibly by Golem … *goooachlem**goooachlem*. Every step you can take closer to marketing your works will get you more control when you do get discovered. A pitchfest is like a hail-mary pass: It is one play that could go very well, but is not the entire game.