Monday, April 29, 2013

How pitching can save your script - and your sanity...

A script can often seem like a handful of sand, slipping through your fingers. That's what it's like when you're about halfway through a first draft and you reach a dead end, or even worse, you've lost faith. This bundle of pages is the worst thing you've ever written. You loathe it. It's like person you've been on three promising dates with, who suddenly makes a racist joke or screams at a waiter.

You thought you knew what it was, thought you had a handle on it, and now it's gone off a cliff and left you clinging to the edge, staring into the abyss. There was no explosion, it's never going to hit the bottom in an oily inferno. It's just gone.

I don't think there's any way of absolutely preventing this, but there are tactics. Little safeguards. For example, when you're still excited about the script, write down exactly what you love about it. What's the essence of it, the thing that hit you like a brick to the head the first time you thought of it? The "Ah!" thing? Write it down, keep it in a drawer. When you're wondering what the hell this script was, if it ever was a thing at all, that piece of paper is your pathway back.

Another thing to do is pitch the idea - the one sentence idea - to as many people as possible. Practice it on anyone who'll listen as early as possible. And pay close attention to what they say. People who know nothing about films or writing and haven't seen a movie since Die Hard 3 are often the ones with the most insightful comments, weirdly enough.

Once you've honed your one sentence pitch until it's the tightest, most beautiful, perkiest pitch in the world, it's a lot harder to go off the reservation later on. I'm currently doing Stephanie Palmer's online pitching course (using an existing script) and fixing the pitch has already made me see what needs to be sorted out in the actual script. And while that's useful, wouldn't it be great to do this BEFORE you have fix a whole script? Get the pitch right, then write - that's my new MO from now on. Oh, and I highly recommend Stephanie's course. The lady knows her stuff.

In other news, we've come to a licensing deal for Tiger with a v. large shorts distributor in the States. Right now it's just for broadcasting rights on two channels, but there's the potential to go for different formats and more territories. Plus, going to Cannes with one deal already in the bag will be a big help! Btw, if anyone else is venturing down next month, drop me a message! We'll do margaritas.

Lastly, the very last ever film screening at the Workmens Den Cinema Club takes place  on 7th May. The Workmens Den is possibly Dublin's worst pub, but I have a sort of insane affection for its strange drinks range, appalling toilets and unexplained draughts. And the Cinema Club has allowed me to see a lot of great movies on the big screen over the years. So it's with a heavy heart that I'll be going to see Strictly Ballroom, the final film. In happier news, Tiger is screening right before it, so if you're in the neighbourhood and are happy to brave the Den, pop in!

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