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Monday, June 23, 2008

Pitch Fest Post Game

One word, Wavers. Wow. What a satisfying, fun, efficient event the Great American Pitch Fest was. Bob and Signe know how to deliver. I couldn't even say what the best part for me was because I had so much fun but okay probably my class because it was so fun. I attended all three days and yesterday went through the pitching process with my dear friend and Script Department business manager who had a great script to pitch. So the Wave-inatrix experienced, first hand, the brilliant, innovative pitching system totally unique to the GAPF.

It's really such a gas. Everybody gets an alphabetical, numbered booklet of who will be there to hear the pitches. You choose which companies you want to pitch to and then you stand in a line with the corresponding number. No more than five or six people are in each line. Inside the ballroom, the pitchees sat at numbered tables which corresponded to the number of the line and their number in the book. Everybody gets five minutes to pitch. A bell goes off and you move up in your line and file into the ballroom. Then you wait about two minutes. Another bell goes off and the pitchers already inside have to wrap up and you find your numbered table. I never had to wait more than 30 seconds to sit down.

Another bell rings and you start your pitch. Four minutes in someone comes on the PA and says ONE MINUTE LEFT and you have to wrap it the heck up. The pitchees listened attentively, took notes and then quickly gave a thumbs up or down on sending them the script. Of the 15 pitches Jeff and I made, we got 13 read requests. So we had a very high rate of return. When you're done pitching, you shuffle on out, get back into the next numbered line and so on. I have attended another (unnamed) major pitching opportunity that happens in LA each fall as part of a larger screenwriting trade show and let me tell you - there is absolutely no comparison. Whereas the other pitch opportunity led to huge lines, frustration and confusion, the GAPF was smooth, fun, short lines, lots of laughter and camaraderie and a lot of very happy faces. Afterward, the managers, agents and producers hung around for a cocktail reception and pitchers were able to grab another hour of chit-chat and casual pitching.

I can't say enough about how fun and effective this event is. I'm on board in a huge way. I wish the GAPF were more than an annual event, in fact. I chatted with Syd Field, Karl Iglesias, Pilar Alessandra, Blake Snyder and Linda Seger. Bill True and I became fast friends and you will soon see a guest blog/interview with Bill on the Rouge Wave about his new film Runaway, which screened at the GAPF on Saturday evening.

It looks to me as if the GAPF is poised to become the preeminent must-attend screenwriting event in Los Angeles. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say they have arrived at the top spot as of last weekend. Actually, it's no limb, I can compare from my own experience attending other events. If you attend one screenwriting conference in the Los Angeles area, this is the one to attend. Hands down.

Last year, at the other large screenwriting event in Los Angeles, I heard nothing but complaints about disorganization. Attendees were frustrated and pissed off. Over this last weekend, I heard nothing but glowing reviews. Even one guy (hi Doug) who arrived irritated because there was a mix up in what he'd registered for, was later spotted grinning exuberantly and flushed with excitement as he lapped up the free classes and killed during the pitching. One of my volunteers (thanks to the three of them!) called me last night and said it was the best, most productive weekend he's ever had. And that's splitting his duties for the Script Department with the classes and events he attended.

So - enough gushing - the Wave-inatrix is a gusher, what can I say - and let's move on to the good part. The highlights.

*the woman pitching in a tiara and a glittery, sequined princess outfit

*the adrenaline rush ONE MORE MINUTE induces

*the momentary power outage during which the pitchers paused for 1 nanosecond and then kept right on going because any second it's ONE MORE MINUTE

*the REO Speedwagon sound of the bell that indicates it's time to move on

*sideways glances revealing pitchers opening up binders with illustrations, photos and sketches

*the woman pulling a carry-on size suitcase to each pitch (what was she pitching, Barton Fink? Was there a human head in that thing?)

*I HEART Jesse Douma and Dana Hahn of The Writer's Store. Man it's hard not to shop til you drop at their booth. Geez.

*the woman pitching in a tiara - seriously, seriously - wow.

My class, Top Ten Things Readers HATE was very well attended and all in the class asked if I could possibly recap that top ten list here on the Rouge Wave. Actually, my list went to eleven (ha). I will be posting a recap of my class tomorrow and the top ten list will be appearing incrementally in the Writer's Store ezine on an ongoing basis. I will also be teaching the same class at the Writer's Store, sponsored by the GAPF, in upcoming weeks. I'm not boasting, I'm just saying that all of my feedback cards had giant smiley faces on them. It was a laugh riot, my class. In a good way.

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PJ McIlvaine said...

Julie, it must have been good, I got requests and I wasn't even there!

2nd2Nun said...

Sounds awesome! Congrats on how well your pitching went!