Sunday, December 23, 2012

A long-overdue update - and what not to do when pitching...

Hallo blog. Long time, no see. I can't believe that it's been nearly a month since Iast updated. Maybe the longest time I've ever left my poor blog hanging.

And I don't even have any amazing screenwriting news to justify this. I got a new (temp) job, my sister bought a house and has been doing it up and since I'm hoping to rent a room from her, this has formed a major topic of conversation for the last five weeks. Plus there was Christmas, and its attendant parties/shopping seemed to eat up huge amounts of time.

I can make all the excuses I want - the fact remains that apart from reading a lot of other people's scripts, I've done very little screenwriting-related stuff. I got distracted. And the fact that nailing down a manager/agent and getting my O1 seemed more and more like a vague dream as I got on a bus at 8am to go to a day job, like deja-vu, didn't help.

I need to start believing that this is possible and not a dream, because it is.

Somewhere out there is a rep who really does want me on their books and will find me work, help me develop my career and make a lot of money from me one day. I just need to get off my ass and make it happen.

My next post will talk about goal-setting for 2013, because I do think it's really important to have writing goals. They keep you honest, help you see what you're doing all this for. And non-writing career goals are just as vital, if not more so...

In the meantime, my Dublin writing group (which I've now re-joined) had a pitching session as part of its last meeting before Christmas. We all sat around a table and had 3 minutes to pitch our existing or upcoming project to everyone else.

I think it would be fair to say that we all made some cock-ups, myself included. And bear in mind, I've had a lot more pitching experience than some people in the group, so I really should have known better. Here are some of the mistakes we made, so you can avoid them:

  • Not giving an idea right from the start of the title's genre, target audience and background. I pitched a family sci-fi project about a boy who accidentally creates a new species, for example, but I never mentioned the genre, so some of the group assumed that this was going to be a horror script.

  • A lot of people left out some really important plot details, which then only came out during the Q&A. Similarly, some of the pitches didn't mention vital characters or give a proper idea of who the hero was. The problem with this is that during a real pitch to a studio or producer, you might not get an opportunity to give this info during a Q&A. They might not give you the chance.

  • Not identifying your script's "hook" and making this clear. It's all very well telling us your plot and describing the characters. But what is it that makes your story different? Why should a producer be interested in buying it and spending years making the movie?

  • Going way over the 3 minute allotted time. I was guilty of this one. Time your pitch, practice it for length and cut it ruthlessly if necessary. You might not get another chance to impress your audience.

I have to say, though, I found that the pitching itself - and the comments and suggestions from the group - really helped. If there are plot holes or character problems in your script, you might as well find out as soon as possible, and with a pitch there's nowhere to hide.

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2013 to all my fellow writers. May the Screenwriting Force be with you....

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