The Director's Chair Issue #45 – Aug. 30, 2004 (The Hollywood Pitch Festival)

by Peter D Marshall

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THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

August 30, 2004          Scene 5 – Take 5
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Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com

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Dear Friend,

You are receiving The Director’s Chair because you requested a
subscription. Subscribe and Unsubscribe instructions are at the
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PRIVACY STATEMENT: This Subscriber List is a private mailing list
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I value every Subscriber and respect your privacy.

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CONTENTS
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1.  Introduction
2.  Action-Cut-Print!
3.  Featured Book
4.  Feature Article – The Hollywood Pitch Festival
5.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
6.  Share This Ezine
7.  Suggestions & Comments
8.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
9.  Copyright Information

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1. INTRODUCTION
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Welcome to Issue #45 of The Director’s Chair (August 30, 2004)

1) There was no July issue because I was too busy scouting
locations (Toronto, Montreal, Paris, Rome, southern Italy ) for
a TV Mini-series for NBC.

2) This month’s Feature Article is by Kulwant Rajwans and his
experience of attending the 8th Annual Hollywood Pitch Festival.

3) I have also started a “Featured Book” section. These are film
books I highly recommend for your library.

4) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair please email:
mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

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Enjoy.

Peter D. Marshall

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2. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers
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If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who wants to learn more about
Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know more
about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for you!

Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com where
you will find over 1200 Online Resources for Filmmakers, a Film
and TV Bookstore and Film Directing Workshops.

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3. FEATURED FILM BOOK – “Directing Actors”
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“Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film
and Television” by Judith Weston

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0941188248/actiocutprint

Directing Actors is the first book of its kind. Judith
investigates in detail the sometimes painful, often
frustrating, but potentially exhilarating relationship between
actor and director. It provides simple, practical tools that
directors and actors can use immediately – and takes the reader
on a journey through the complexities of the creative process
itself.

Weston rightly sees the director as the central figure in
inspiring the energy of a production’s harmony. She advises the
prospective director on every aspect of a stage or film
production, showing how the director can draw the best
performances possible from actors.

The following issues are discussed:
– what constitutes a good performance
– what actors want from a director
– what directors do wrong
– script analysis and preparation
– how actors work
– the director/actor relationship

Directing Actors is a method for establishing creative,
collaborative relationships with actors, getting the most out
of rehearsals, troubleshooting poor performances, and giving
directions that are briefer and easier to follow.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0941188248/actiocutprint

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4. FEATURE ARTICLE – 8th Annual Hollywood Pitch Festival
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“Attending the 8th Annual Hollywood Pitch Festival.”
By Kulwant Rajwans

My co-writer Ron Dalrymple and I recently returned from the 8th
Annual Hollywood Pitch Festival held at the Meridian Hotel in
Beverly Hills CA on August 7th and 8th 2004.  The event is
hosted by Fade In Magazine and is one of the more prominent
pitch festivals in Hollywood.  This is a venue where
screenwriters can pitch their scripts or ideas to film industry
professionals.  In the following article I attempt to give you
some insight into the event.

How it Works!

Here are some of the basic things for you to know if you are
planning on attending this festival in the future.  The maximum
amount of screenwriters allowed to attend is 200 so sign up
early (http://www.fadeinonline.com).  Once you have signed up,
a list of Industry Professionals scheduled to attend is sent to
you by e-mail about 10 days before the event.  This list
contains Agents, Managers, Producers, Studio Executives and the
type of project(s) each one is looking for.  At this particular
venue each of us was guaranteed at least 12 seven minute
meetings over the 2 days.  During the event there is also a
standby line that participants can wait in to try and pick up
some extra meetings.  The thing to know is that signing up for
your 12 meetings is done on Saturday morning at 7:00 am and
it’s first come, first serve.  As I learned, it’s best to get
in line early!  On my way down to the gym at 5 a.m. there were
already about 35 people in line.

Pitching A Project.

Ron and I had no idea how to Pitch so we began by reading books
and listening to tapes on the subject.  What we found was
contradictions everywhere. For example, some advised to “Only
Pitch Ideas and then write the script if they like it” while
others said, “Only Pitch the written material, it’s worth more
and able to be copywrited”.  Another example was “Don’t cast
your films” while others advise, “Cast your film, it helps give
them a mental picture of the character”.  Also, most of the
advice on pitching is generally given with the idea of a
20-minute pitch; at the Hollywood Pitch Festival we had 7
minutes and found that the pitch had to be less than 5 minutes
because of introductions and time left for questions.

Structuring your pitch is a good way to ensure that you get all
the necessary information across in a short period of time.  An
example of how an effective good structure can help happened to
a writer named Robert that I met during the event.   The
previous year he received no requests for his script so this
year he decided to memorize a pitch written by a professional
just for his project.  On the first day alone he received at
least 5 requests for that same script.

Here are some general guidelines for structuring your Pitch
that you may find helpful.

General Guidelines

* Pitch with Good Energy.  Show enthusiasm for your work.  If
you don’t you believe in it your work it will make it that much
harder for them to believe in it.

* Make eye contact.

* Explain the theme of your movie.  It’s important for them to
understand why this movie should be made.

* Give the Title, Genre, and Setting.  It’s surprising how,
when you’re nervous, these things can be forgotten.

* Answer questions with scenes from your script.

* Keep the Pitch Simple.  Don’t complicate the story or
embellish an unnecessary part of it.  Spend time addressing the
beats (see below for details) and leave time for questions.

* Know as much as you can about the person to whom you’re
pitching.   It’s always a good idea to know the Name and
Company of the person.

Take the Free Class

I also highly recommend taking the free class given on Pitching
at the Festival.  Industry experts give the class and even if
you don’t think that you need the advice, the stories alone are
worth it!

From the class one thing that really helped me was the
technique of breaking down your story into 7 beats.  Basically
you want to make sure that you explain each one of these beats
to give your audience a good understanding of the story.

The 7 Beats of a Screenplay (Briefly).

1. Point of Origin.  –  See the world of our story and meet the
protagonist.

2. Middle of Act 1. Approx. Page 15. –  The first turning point
in the story that propels the main character into a new
direction by upsetting their world.

3. End of Act 1.  – Moves the story to a new level.

4. Plot Thickens. Approx. Page 45.  The protagonist feels that
his/her mission is harder than originally thought (this one is
the one where most scripts have their problem)

5. Mid Point. Approx. Page 60.  Things go BAM!  Big impact in
the story.

6. Act II Curtain. Approx. Page 90. Lowest Point for the
protagonist.  Everything is lost.

7. Ending.  Resolution.  Our Hero Saves the Day.

NOTE: “Help the person across the table from you pitch your
project to their boss.”

Some Key Benefits of The Hollywood Pitch Festival.

The organizers kept it so that the people pitching and the
people waiting are in 2 separate rooms.  Everything was timed
perfectly thereby eliminating any worry of another person
standing around pressuring you to finish.

The list of Executives, Producers, and Agents was impressive as
all majors were represented.

Most people like myself received more than their scheduled
meetings by waiting in the standby line (I managed to get 1
extra while I’m sure that others got up to at least 10).

On the Saturday, the organizers set up a free lunch and a
networking party in the evening.  Although there didn’t seem to
be any people from the List it was a great chance to meet
fellow screenwriters.

When companies that I signed up for didn’t show up, I was
directed to a free table with another company.  This provided
myself with a bonus meeting.  The companies that are unable to
show up do grant you a phone call to pitch so nothing is really
lost.

Everyone was really nice.  No attitude.

They offer discounts on all of the books that Fade In Magazine
publishes.

What Not to Expect.

As with most Pitch Festivals, it is not likely that you’ll
pitch your idea in 7 minutes and have someone say, “Here’s a
cheque”.  Think of it as more of a chance to get some of these
people to look at your work and make some new contacts in the
Industry. Many of the companies I met with requested me to mail
or e-mail my script to their office. Although this sounds
promising the reality is just about every production company
has projects in development and it’s hard to know if they
already have something similar to what we have written. I say
don’t get discouraged if they don’t make an offer or return
your call.  Stay positive.  At the end of it all you are
probably better off having someone looking at your work than
letting it sit on the shelf.

NOTE: As I am, I’m sure most writers are concerned with
protecting their work from copyright infringement.  In this
case they had us sign some forms.

Four Things I Recommend.

1. Avoid large gaps of time between Pitch meetings.  When you
pitch there is a rhythm you get into and if you’ve been waiting
around too long between meetings then getting your energy up
can be taxing.  This also allows you to take advantage of the
standby line and not worry about leaving before your turn
because of a meeting you have previously scheduled.  I
personally preferred it when I had meetings scheduled about an
hour to 40 min apart.

2. Have more than one project or idea.  If I wasn’t getting
them hooked in about 2 minutes I just changed to another
script.  Also another idea is to go down with a Co-Writer and
increase the odds.  Since Ron and I partnered up we were both
able to take 12 meetings each, which meant that we pitched our
projects to 24 different companies.

3. Book a room at the Hotel where the event is held.  It may
seem a little expensive but it makes life much easier. Getting
down early for the first day to sign up for the meetings is
very important as well as the option to take some rest in your
room if you feel tired.

4. Always carry contact information such as business cards.
Just about every person I met asked for contact information.

In Conclusion.

This was a well-organized and well-designed event.  Everyone
that Ron and I spoke with was really pleased and enjoyed the
experience.   It was a place where we made a lot of new
contacts and some even some friends.   I highly recommend this
event to anyone looking to advance his or her career as a
screenwriter.  For more details about the Hollywood Pitch
Festival go to http://www.fadeinonline.com

For more information about my experience at the Pitch Festival,
please feel free to contact me at mailto:krajwans@sympatico.ca

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Kulwant Rajwans graduated in Film Studies from Ryerson
University in Toronto, Canada. He formed his own production
company and has directed numerous short films and TV
Commercials, and has also co-written 2 feature scripts with his
writing partner Ron. They are currently working on a Movie of
the Week and another feature spec script that will be completed
this fall.
Kulwant can be contacted at: mailto:krajwans@sympatico.ca
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Ron Dalrymple studied film at Ryerson University and at
Sheridan College in Toronto and has written several shorts and
seven features. We co-wrote a comedy ‘Cupids Apprentice’ and a
thriller ‘Whispers’ with Kulwant together this past year which
they pitched at this festival.
Ron can be contacted at mailto:dalrymples@sympatico.ca.
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5.  BACK ISSUES OF “THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR”
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To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:
http://www.actioncutprint.com/ezine.html

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6. SHARE THIS EZINE
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Share this Ezine by email – forward it to your friends and
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7. SUGGESTIONS & COMMENTS
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Send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice to:
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9. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
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Copyright (c) 2000-2004
www.actioncutprint.com
Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved

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