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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pitchfest Survival Guide: 6 Things to Remember


It's a a powerful word. Every year hundreds take time out of their busy schedules and fly all the way to Los Angeles to attend one. I was at the very first Screenwriting Expo Pitchfest. I stood in line with hundreds of others waiting for my chance to pitch to actual Hollywood professionals. After I was done I was sure I was just weeks away from signing that big contract.

It didn't happen that way. And no one else should really expect instant fame and fortune either. But there are ways to make sure you get the most out of your pitchfest experience.

1. Have Fun
Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the city. Los Angeles is a great place. You'll meet all sorts of people, some who may be become your friends some who are just characters you'll want to write home about. It's easy to let the stress and anxiety overwhelm you. Don't let it.

2. Practice Your Logline and Concepts
I've said this a lot but it can't be over emphasized. The logline and the concept are what get people interested in your screenplay in the first place. Plenty of people can write, the ones who succeed are the ones who understand how to craft a compelling logline. Demonstrate you know how to come up with a truly high concept and the people at the pitchfest will take notice.

3. Target Managers and Agents
Production companies are always good but Agents and Managers are the people who work with writers day in and day out. They are the people who can help you not with just one script but with your entire career. Try to get in to see as many of them as possible. Hint: These individuals fill up the quickest so make sure you're the first in line.

4. Find Out Where to Submit To
You'll probably get a lot of people handing you their cards. Always find out where you're supposed to send your screenplay and to whose attention. Sometimes companies even have two or more offices at different locations. A perfect pitch is wasted if you end up sending your script to the wrong individual at the wrong location.

5. Follow Up But Don't Pester
You need to give people a reasonable amount of time to review your script. Wait at least a month before your first follow up call if you don't hear anything. Be polite. Don't let your emotions get the better of you. Expect a rejection. Don't beg or get emotional when you hear, "no." Remember...

6. The Ultimate Goal Is Not a Sale, But the Start of a Relationship
It's not a spring but a marathon. It takes a lot of steps to make a success. A good pitchfest is just one of them. That is biggest lesson beginners should learn. The lottery ticket, jackpot winner is the rarity. The best you can hope for is someone who is willing to let you email them new material, maybe give you some freelance writing jobs. If you're real lucky he or she will let you send them loglines and story ideas for criticism and feedback. When that happens then you're real close to getting repped.

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