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Friday, June 20, 2008


Good morning, Wavers! It's yet another super hot day in Los Angeles. I dread my electric bill, with my tiny little air conditioner buzzing away all night. Today is the opening day of the Great American Pitch Fest in Burbank, Ca. The Wave-inatrix will shortly decamp and greet my friends and colleagues. Sunday is the big day though - the main event - pitching day. So if there are any Wavers attending on Saturday come find me and meet wonderful Margaux at the The Script Department booth and if you are pitching on Sunday - here are a few tips:

1) Research who you are pitching to; know their mandate and their slate

2) Bring your script; have it tucked somewhere discreetly, like in a satchel or tote bag.

3) Make eye contact. Relax. Smile.

4) S-l-o-w down your speech just slightly. Not a weird, Matrix slow-down, just take a deep breath and leave room for the pitchee to soak in the information and ask questions.

5) If you time between now and Sunday, role play with a friend. You be the executive and just check out how it feels when someone prattles on at 180mph and flecks spit in your face. It's quite instructive.

6) Don't be freaky and sweaty and talk too fast.*

*Hollywood translation: you live in the basement and drink too much Jolt.

7) Do not be overly impressed. These are just jr. execs who have taken the day off to possibly hear some good ideas. They're people just like you.

8) Focus on the main concept of your script - don't rattle on and on with details and more details. Their eyes will glaze over.

9) Hit them with a good logline and then sketch out the rest of the story in short bursts leaving them time to ask questions. Make it a guided conversation not a one-sided bombast.

10) Refer to the 1st act break, midpoint and 2nd act break when you describe the pivotal moments in the script. Speak their language; they will be impressed and can follow along more easily.

11) Do not tell them all about yourself and your pet iguana. Do not say you've been working on this script for years*

*Hollywood translation: you live in the basement and drink too much Jolt.

12) Watch the pitchee's body language. Are they leaning forward? Making eye contact? Engaged in you and your story? Or are they leaning back, looking around the room, sipping water or unwrapping candy. Watch for social signals and when you feel you've lost them - ask if they have questions. Figure out how to get them back. If you just can't - wrap it up and be on your way, dignity intact.

13) If they ask to read the script, even if you want to jump up and down and freak out - don't. Just smile and get the pertinent information and be on your way.

For any pitchers who want a last minute brush-up, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Stephanie Palmer's Good in a Room. She is really an extraordinary person and the book will give you a great sense of pitching do's and don'ts.

Mostly - have fun. Smile. Breathe. Know your story like the back of your hand.

All right, Wavers who are pitching - I'll see you there. Don't forget, Saturday at 9am I am teaching a class entitled: Top Ten Things Readers HATE. Upbeat. I know. But if you know me, you know it will be funny, informative and elucidating.

For the rest of you Wavers who won't be there - I want to see some writing get done this weekend! I will find out if you don't - I have my little cupcake spies everywhere!

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1 comment:

PJ McIlvaine said...

I am very jealous. I told my friend Liz, who will be attending, to look you up. :)

But it's not all bad, I found a new hair product from Aussie that promises to keep your hair from becoming a humidity frizz ball even if you're in Florida in your grandma's jalopy with no air. And it works! Happy happy joy joy!