Posts Tagged ‘pitchfest’

Ah, what do you know?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

You go to a pitchfest.   It’s held at a big hotel.  People from around the world cram into the basement, sorry, lower level,  to sign in for their chance to sit down with an intern from an agency, production company or studio.  The intern could turn out to be the head of the company in a few years but, right now, his or her ability to green light anything is precisely nil.

Nevertheless, you stand there and wait because you don’t know what else to do.

The organizers are late.  The hotel goes through a fire drill which is a little alarming when you are underground in a big hotel without knowing that it’s a drill.  The word spreads that you probably won’t die but the drill does manage to shut down the hvac system so air rapidly becomes a precious commodity.  Nervous energy drives chatter and the air disappears in hot, toxic puffs of inanities.

You sweat, run your pitches through your head and listen to everyone talk about what they know about Hollywood.  You want to say that if any of us knew anything about Hollywood we wouldn’t be here but you keep your mouth shut because, after all, you know nothing more than they do.

Chris Soth, the screenwriter, sage and mentor has said and written that every scene must have hope versus fear.  You can smell the fear in the sweat.  You can see the hope on the faces.  It must be a good scene.

The organizers show up and the endless registration begins.  After a few glitches, it actually starts.  Free coffee.  A good idea for people who are so wired already that you can watch sparks fly from them. 

You are assigned companies at certain times.  The problem is, right or wrong, time inside the ballroom where the companies sit behind tables is completely different from time outside where writers wait and wait.  Your eleven o’clock with Robert Evans Company inside the room ends up being three-fifteen outside the room.  Writers are already confused.  Come on!

Your first pitch is with a charming young woman who laughs at everything you say.  You’re pitching a horror script but any reaction is good, isn’t it?

Your next pitch is to a real, live producer who must have picked up his aide’s schedule by mistake and ended up here.  You shake hands, sit and begin with a question.  The man rolls his eyes which causes the bags  under his eyes to undulate.  You’re captivated.  He adds a nervous tic and tremors.  It’s a three ring circus.

“I don’t want to hear story.  I don’t want to hear characters.  Just give me the hook.”  He throws it at you.  There is a truth or dare glare that stands behind his twitching demeanor.

He reaches for more coffee which sloshes back and forth as he struggles to get it to his lips.

You condense your comedy down to the one sentence that makes your story different from every other story yet exactly the same as every other story so producers don’t go into hissy fits.  It would be fun watching this guy in full hissy but you’re not that cruel.  You let him have it.

“THERE YOU GO!”  He almost jumps over the table in appreciation.  “I love it.  Love it!  But I hate that title.  Hate, hate hate.”

“It’s a working title,” you offer.  “It was about a blog…”

“Blogs suck.  How about something about the internet.  Hmm, let me think.”  His eyes run an oval track in his head.  The bags try to catch up.  “Netflix!”  He bursts out laughing.  “Netflix.  That’s it.”  He laughs and laughs. 

You only wish your story is half as funny as this man thinks his title is.  You do your best diplomatic smile and nod. 

“I want to see it.”  He writes something down on a pad. You give him your card and walk away beaming.  You turn to wave goodbye.  “Title sucks,” he says as he shakes his head and scratches out what he just wrote.

Yeah, that went well.  As the fabulous group Girlyman wrote and sang so beautifully, “I’m not quite lost, not quite found, just somewhere different now.” 

Somewhere different.  Boy howdy.