Posts tagged ‘Great American Pitchfest’

May 20, 2013

Event: The Great American Pitchfest

gapIf you’re looking for something to do in two weeks, you can’t overlook The Great American Pitchfest.

But I’m not talking about the Pitchfest itself. Personally, I’ve never done the pitching portion of the conference. I’ve been told that it is a good way to practice pitching to professionals, but you can also practice on your friends and save several hundred dollars. Some people swear by pitchfests, but I feel like there are probably more effective ways to invest in your screenwriting career.

That said, if you’re in the area (or anywhere within a hundred miles) you have to register and show up for the Free Classes.

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June 10, 2011

Writing the R-Rated Comedy

Keith Giglio led a great session at last weekend’s Great American Pitchfest on R-rated comedies. At the top of the session, Keith pointed out that comedies are the easiest sells in Hollywood – they don’t require A-list talent (in fact, they tend to make stars), they’re cheap to shoot, easy to market, and they make a lot of money. As Keith put it, comedies are “the quickest way to Oz.”

At their core, R-comedies are about primal human urges – love, sex, hate, success. R-comedy is the only genre in which “a guy wants to get laid” is a perfectly acceptable hero’s journey (40 Year Old Virgin). Usually in the end R-rated comedies come down to something deeper, but the ending is still always going to be about something innate to human nature, something any audience member should be able to connect to.

As with any kind of film, Keith underscored how important it is to know your genre. If you want to write comedy, study comedy. Study what’s out there now and where the things that are out there now came from. As with most Hollywood films, the trick is to be uniquely familiar with your concept, said Keith. You want to have an idea that sounds like something that has already worked because it has some universal quality to it. But the idea has to have something new to give.

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June 6, 2011

Moving Your Story Along with Emmy-Winner Erik Bork

Erik Bork, Emmy-winning television writer and producer was on hand at the Great American Pitchfest last weekend. He taught a great class entitled Throwing Rocks at Your Main Character: How to Keep Your Story Moving Forward. The title came from a famous George M. Cohan quote: “In the first act you get your hero up a tree. The second act, you throw rocks at him. For the third act you let him down.”

Erik underscored the fact that every feature film, regardless of the genre, needs a compelling central problem that will drive the story from beginning to end. He also noted that ‘conflict’ – which any good script should be full of – doesn’t necessarily mean interpersonal conflict, i.e. fighting. It just means problems.

Erik referred the class to Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and suggested we all become very familiar with Blake’s genres. When you know what genre you want to work within, it becomes easier to determine what elements your central problem should have and how it should develop.

Regardless of genre, Erik informed us that any script’s one central problem – and your script should just have one main problem, a problem which can’t be solved until the end and which shows up in some way or another in every scene of your script – your central problem needs to be a BITCH.

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April 27, 2011

Pitchfests: Are They Worth It?

This is a question that I don’t have an aswer to. And I am genuinely interested in the answer. The Great American Pitchfest is coming up in Los Angeles, and everything I’ve read says its the best of the best when it comes to pitchfests, but I’ve also read that all pitchfests are scams.

Frankly I don’t know where the truth is, and I would love some insight.

One great thing about the Great American Pitchfest is that the day before is filled with FREE classes that can be attended by anyone who registers in advance. I plan to attend some of these classes, both to learn about pitching and to hopefully meet some fellow writers.

I’ve never actually pitched a script to anyone who could do something about it, and I dread the experience. I look forward to the chance to learn a bit more about the art of pitching and hopefully take away some of the fears I associate with it.

The Pitchfest itself, on the otherhand, is an opportunity to meet dozens of producers and agents and to give them your pitch. The question is, are these 12-20 conversations worth the minimum $250 fee to get in?

If you’ve attended this or another pitchfest before, please share your experience! I’m dying to learn more, and I’m sure others are as well.

April 12, 2011

An Interview with Master of Story, Robert McKee

Robert McKee, author of the widely renowned Story is set to give a session at the Great American Pitchfest in June. The Pitchfest recently interviewed him on the art of pitching, and here is what he had to say:

The Great American Screenwriter: There are a lot of pitching venues out there — and you have an exhausting schedule. What enticed you to speak at the Great American Pitchfest? There are a lot of mistaken ideas and foolishness around the whole business of pitching. A lot of people are setting themselves up as experts in this business and there’s a lot of information about that coming back to me from my students. There’s a sense of fallacy circulating about pitching and the way one goes about it and what they’re looking for. Look, if a company says they’re seeking romantic comedies but they hear a great and compelling pitch for a smart thriller, they’re not going to ignore that smart thriller. They want great material.

No matter what the genre, the key is to pitch well. But the hardest thing for a writer is to understand their own story. Don’t underestimate the essence of the story. In my session for the Great American Pitchfest we’ll discuss three important components for pitching.

1. You’ll discover the truth of your story. If you can’t find one you may be in a state of self-deception. You may not have a story.

2. How to judge whether you’re ready to pitch or not.

3. I will dissuade you from the notion that a pitch is a song and dance. You can razzle dazzle and bullshit your way through a pitch, but these development execs know how to pick a story out of all that song and dance. So just tell your story. This all goes back to knowing what your story truly is. You need to know the essence of it.

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