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Monday, October 27, 2008

Pitch Perfect

Day two of the Fade In Pitch Fest concluded yesterday and boy, was it a long day for everybody! I think heard as many pitches as some of the agents, managers and producers there, just in a different context. I was so proud of the many writers who I had counseled the day before to be more upbeat and personable, who took that advice with aplomb and had many successful pitches.

Here's my take on pitch fests. If you have the disposable income to do this type of thing, I think it can be a fun way to network, meet other writers and industry professionals and practice pitching your story over and over again. If you are like most of us, on a more limited budget and you have to carefully choose how and where you spend your money, I'd honestly recommend spending that money on professional notes over pitching. Maybe you can afford to do both. Booyah for you and have a cupcake.

Let's clear something up: Yes the people who come to hear your pitches are lower level executives. Of course they are. This. Is not. A bad. Thing. Let me repeat that - it's not bad that lower level baby execs and even assistants go to hear your pitches. Because what does mama always say? Today's assistant is tomorrow's executive. One drawback is that sometimes these lower level pitch recipients do appear to be about twelve. Which can be off-putting. Sometimes their social skills are not quite where they will be in some time. Meaning that if they are bored by your pitch, some can actually be a bit obvious and rude about that. Pay no mind - that's about them, not you. Others are enthusiastic and dying to find a good story so they can get the promotion they are gunning for. Are there good pitches at pitch fests? Yes, of course there are. I heard, over both days, probably about six pitches that sounded really great to me. I would definitely be interested in reading the scripts.

If you do decide to go to a pitch fest (I believe that the upcoming CS Expo, starting on November 12th usually has a pitch fest as part of the festivities) here's your check list:

Bring a one-sheet
Have a great, pithy, compelling logline ready to go*
Bring business cards
Do not pass out artistic effluvia related to your script
Dress casually but nicely; do make some effort. Brush your hair and teeth**
Do some breathing exercises, drink coffee - whatever it takes to be both relaxed and ON
Practice a couple of days in advance then stop practicing so much so you sound natural
Relax; if you make a mistake, smile, back up and do it again. It's really okay
Don't take rejection personally; just get back in line and do it again
Do collect contact information if you have a good pitch
Send thank you notes a couple of days later. Make them brief and gracious

Are pitch fests worth it? Well - I cannot say one way or the other, definitively. If you can afford it, if it's something you enjoy doing and if you have a great script that's really, really ready to pitch, sure, I suppose it's worth it. You can also query your material the old fashioned way, throughout most of the year. I've been to three pitch fests since June and I have noticed a high rate of return. In other words, I have seen some of the same people at all three. Is this because these writers are very successful at this or is it because, like Trekkies, they are devoted fans of these types of gatherings? I don't know and I'm not sure I should go there.

All right everybody, get back to work and have a Monday cupcake on me. I'm a happy girl because I just discovered that I apparently own some crazily valuable rare books so today after I get my reading and notes done, I'll be researching how to sell them. If any Wavers are rare book appraisers, or know a great one, be in touch.

*I was shocked by how many writers either did not have a logline at all or who had overlong, confusing, not great loglines and knew it.

**It's not for nothing that I make the hair and teeth comment. In the spirit of kindness, that's all I'm going to say.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay Julie, right on!

But pitching is an art of talking and socializing.

I tell all the aspiring screenwriters this -- go out, date, socialize with friends, make lots of friends....did I say get out and get some fresh air.

Why are Hollywood's best directors are also good screenwriters. Because they are social animals. They can talk and they are good at it.

Yes, aspiring screenwriters should go out there and get dates and have fun and get married and have families.

Find a beautiful wife or husband and live life.

Then pitching will become easy.

Thanks Julie for this neat article.