Thursday, June 11, 2009

Are you "industry ready"?

The Scriptmarket '09 meeting was today and my arrival went completely to plan.

I'm not entirely sure how much to tell you, because I'm rather tired and not feeling my garrulous self. The overall idea was to see where you are up to in terms of being ready to push your script into the market but it was primarily directed at movies, though I wasn't the only one with TV series ideas.

So there were interviews with industry peeps based on the script report that we'd all been given and there were exercises in logline writing and pitch writing. In case you hadn't noticed I can be an arrogant sod when the mood takes me.

As it is I got rather defensive in the interview (I was second-up in my group). You see I had two problems: first, I didn't like the script report because, in some respects, it went against every one of my recent reports on Monsters. Plus there were a couple of actual errors (like thinking it was a 2-parter when it's a 6-parter). So my arrogance popped up with a vengeance.

The second problem is a little hard to resolve though I have, in fact, reached a resolution.

I think Monsters is great (naturally) I would love to see it made. But I am also a pragmatic realist: who is going to make a UK-based, fairly expensive, SF series? Probably no one. So, let's just call it a sample script - and a damn good one which has already done me good service.

So there I sit in the interview: what do I want to do with the script? Who do I want to talk to at the Scriptmarket? (That's the real prize: you get to have quality time with a major player.)

So my initial response? An agent. Why? Because I want someone to promote my writing, not have someone make Monsters. (That road leads to disappointment only.)

But then, let's look at the truth of this: I want it made, don't I? And we're going to be working on this trailer, aren't we? Why am I bothering if, deep down, I don't want to push it? Plus, didn't I start to organise a "Original Graphic Novel" of Monsters as well?

At this point I scream - the sensible part of me insisting that I'm not really bothered and it's just a sample script. This didn't all happen in the interview, by the way, much of this was thinking afterwards. Someone said I looked shell-shocked - perhaps that's how I look when I'm thinking.

At the end of the day we were asked to tell the gorgeous Phoebe (the Runner-de-jour, and prolific Radio 4 afternoon play writer) who we wanted to see, and I said "Producer". Well, why not? Monsters was good enough to write, it should be good enough to produce.

The pitch exercise was fun - basically we paired up, told our story to our partner and then that person had to pitch it to the group. There are some very important lessons to learn there. I was with Maria, unfortunately we spent too much time on Monsters and not enough on hers "The Trowman's Last Trip". This cost us. I failed to communicate my story to Maria and I didn't know hers well enough. I thought her story idea was very good.

However there are some brilliant stories in there. Some of which were pitched brilliantly. (Ruth - I think - actually got spontaneous applause.)

The afternoon was spent learning more things about pitching, what a Sales Agent does and bits about how the Film Council now works and what money and help is available for unproduced writers. (They get 25-30 applications a week, accept 25-ish in a year, and 2 of those are likely to become actual films - I thought those were damn good odds: 1 in 26.)

I met some excellent people, made good friends, and discovered I am rubbish at pitching.

So, am I "industry ready"? Script-wise, yes; personally, probably not.

What's on the turntable? It's all quiet on the train.


Sofluid said...
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Sofluid said...

The idea of pitching makes me nervous.

I find it hard enough descibing an idea to the fiance let alone describing it succinctly to an audience.

However, I do have years of giving presentations at University under my belt - one presenting artistic ideas, the other presenting topics in French.

In that sense, I think preparation is key. I always prepared my presentations well and practiced delivering them, so no matter how nervous I was, I instinctively knew what to say.

I think that's what I'll start doing with my screenwriting ideas. Before I "pitch" them to the fiance, I'll write up a summary and practice delivering it in front of my mirror...

12 June 2009 10:13

Paul McIntyre said...
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Paul McIntyre said...

... using a hairbrush as a microphone...

The idea of pitching fills me with dread also - I get horrible flashbacks to reading out chapters of "Of Mice and Men" in school.

I hated it then, and I hate it now.

Yey for me - my career is going to go well!

Adaddinsane said...

As has been mentioned I love an audience - but that's an audience.

Pitching is selling.

Hm, actually I know how to do that too ... but only over the phone. perhaps I should just phone my pitches through from the next room?

But basically, yes, it's down to knowing your material cold. Like Morecambe & Wise - you know it so well it seems like you're ad libbing.