Smack my pitch up!

February 26, 2010

My friend Andrea has joined Raindance. And last night they held Live! Ammunition! at the Apollo cinema, Piccadilly Circus. It’s one of their special events where anyone who chooses gets 2 minutes to pitch their film to a bunch of bigwigs, where “you can hone pitching skills in an entertaining environment”. We thought we’d go and have a look, be entertained by the environment.

I’m an idiot, and so I mentioned this event to the good people of Kindle, the company who are currently developing a film with me and Trev. They said I should pitch. I said I couldn’t afford the £13 entrance fee. They said they’d pay. And before my two minutes were up they’d booked me in online and I had to go.

What an idiot. And anyways, it wasn’t even £13. If you wanted to pitch you had to put a fiver in a hat. The winner of the evening got to keep all the fivers (47 people pitching in two hours equals… oh, I don’t know… 47 x 5… £235).

£235! And the Kindle people said if I won I could keep it. I knew there was money in this writing lark.

not me pitching

So, I’m in a cinema with 150 people… I’m at the pictures with the pitchers… and then they tell us how it works. We have to queue up in a line, fiver in hand, up and around the auditorium, standing on the stairs, and then we take it in turn and pitch to the bigwigs. The bigwigs were:

Michael Kuhn– producer of many films including one of my favourites, I Heart Huckabees.

Why not take a moment to enjoy this:

James Brown – head of Acquisitions, Metrodome.

Joe Utichi – Editor, Rotten Tomatoes UK.

Beau Rogers – Executive producer of over 45 films.

Robert Jones – Producer, Material Entertainment.

Gary Phillips – Sales agent, Movie House.

So. No pressure then.

Have I pointed out that I’ve never pitched a film before? And that I’m an idiot. Hell, I even put my own fiver in.

So, they announce the queueing thing and everyone goes crazy. Racing to the starting post like it’s some kind of pitching jumble sale. I’m a little slow. I’m nervous of running in cinemas. I’m scared I’ll get told off, like I do when I pet at the swimming baths. So I get there at about number 26 or 27 out of the 47 fellow pitchers. Plenty of time to see how it works, and to get nervous and anxious and back out if neccessary.

It gets underway. The first person pitches, a young woman rings a bell at the hafway point. A minute in. They have a minute left. Not long. But then they are encouraging the type of pitches that only take seconds. You know the kind of thing… It’s Fight Club meets Toy Story set on a planet made out of nylon and inhabited only by cheese monkeys... Damn! I wish I’d pitched that now!

It’s Monkey Tennis.

Except people don’t half go on. They’ve only got two minutes! They should just be shouting over and over Monkey Tennis! Monkey Tennis! Many of them go into such detailed plots that half way in they’re only two minutes into their film. By the time the two minute bell goes the opening titles are still running.

So, first thing I need to learn… speak less, not more.

Oh, and it might be a good idea for me not to follow the trend of starting your pitch off something like this… this is a true story. It happened to me. The day after I found out that my mother was in fact my daughter, my father ran off with my boyfriend and they both killed themselves in a suicide pact. I couldn’t cope and so I became a vampire… Ok, it wasn’t quite like that, but you get the drift… Damn! I wish I’d pitched that now.

Second thing I need to learn… Don’t be mean about the other pitchers. It’s not like you won or something.

Third thing I need to learn… Don’t give away the ending midway.

The panel, who surely must have been beaten into non-listening by pitch number 7…

Oh, slight digression. We were told by one of the panel that there are only seven stories. This is true. Just like there are only seven jokes. And only seven cakes. Like with cakes, the difference is in the filling.

… yes, just how did they keep on listening? With most of the pitches I could only bear 17 seconds.

Fourth thing I need to learn… stop being mean again. It’s not like you came in the top three or anything.

But they listened and then each pitcher was given two comments, but without being allowed to speak back. The comments were kind and well meant, along the lines of too expensive… how much will it cost?… I don’t like psychic detectives… that kind of thing.

Three or four away from me the charming and welcoming host, Elliot Grove, made an announcement. Time was catching up with us so from now on each pitcher would get 60 seconds. That was ok by me… well, I assumed the fee would be halved to £2.50.

It wasn’t, but what the heck. Spending less time up there seemed a good idea.

So, my go. Elliot told me I had sixty seconds and after 30 seconds the girl with the bell would give me a tinkle. I laughed out loud. One of the panel told me that if I put another fiver in I could have two tinkles. Things were looking up (if you like making a young woman on the front row whose most probably someone’s niece just helping out for work experience feel uncomfortable. And obviously me and bigwig did).

I pitched. I filled my sixty seconds as well as I could. I didn’t stumble, didn’t fall, got in all the important stuff… Hell, I’d even spent sometime online reading sites that give advice for two minute pitchers… I’d done my homework. I was prepared. I thought it went ok.

Then I had my two comments. It wasn’t a case of whoever on the panel wanted to speak could speak. Elliot would pick who, going along the experts in order. My first comment came from Joe Utichi from Rotten Tomatoes. He said “sounds cheesy”. He may have said more but that’s all I heard. My next comment came from James Brown. He said “there’s a big difference between the next Billy Elliot and cheesy”. He may have said more, but that’s all I heard. Robert Jones then asked me (Hey! I got a third comment!) “Is it a true story?” It’s not, but it does have true elements, as in all the stuff that took place at the Mexico Olympics in 1968… sorry, I know this is meaningless to you, reader, but that was my answer. And not the most eloquent of answers, but, like with the No Petting thing in the swimming baths, I do as I’m told and at the back of my mind was the raindance rule… you can’t answer back to comments. Crikey, I was so nervous and I’m so polite… I didn’t want to break the rule but it would have been rude to just not answer.

And then I was done, finished, that was that.

If any bigwigs read this and would like to know more about our film, please do contact me. At the moment, thanks to a bit of money from the European Media Script Fund, were are scripting, but we have documents and things… we have three acts, we can talk. It’s good not cheesy. honest.

Oh, and well done to the winner, Deane Thrussell, writer of Date of Birth. I liked the sound of it. I’d go and see it.

Oh, and commiserations to the Crown Jewels guy and the Jaws in Whitby pitcher. I’d go and see those too.

Hob Knobs

February 20, 2010

Do you like laughing? If you do and you live near The Hob in Forest Hill why not come and join me and my mate, top notch comedian Ben Norris, for a funny evening of nonsense this Wednesday at 8pm.

Here’s the deal; once a week I visit Ben, Sarah and their lovely triplets for an evening of food, drink and nonsense,  the drink and nonsense taking place once the kids have gone to bed. We sit around the kitchen table, talk rubbish and make each other laugh. As the evening goes on and we drink more, Ben scribbles things down in chalk on their blackboard pantry door. The next day he looks at it and wonders what drugs we must have been on. My favourite bit of scribbling so far… Nosferatu! I haven’t even seen Nosfera One!

The secret of dodgy Chinese dentist jokes- timing

One night we sat around laughing at all the daft things on You Tube. And then Ben said we should do it in a pub, invite people along with their favourite clips and all watch them and laugh, or boo, or whatever. And somewhere along the line this has become a reality.

me laughing

So, we will be at the Hob this Wednesday watching your clips on a big big screen. Come along. Don’t forget to bring a few links with you, or just enough info for us to be able to track them down, and then we’ll play them. It’s as simple as that. Oh, and it’s £3.

Come along and see things like this, recommended to me by Gareth Aveyard. Stick with it, because at first I felt sad, but 50 odd seconds in I started laughing like a goose.

It won’t all be funny animal clips. There’ll be music and proper comedy… well, I say that. It’s up to you. It’s your night. You bring the clips. It’s whatever entertains you.

What? Funny animals? Oh, alright then.

You can find more details here.


February 16, 2010

I’ve always loved the Angel of the North, Antony Gormley‘s big angel, stuck on a hill, up North. But until now I’ve only ever seen it in passing from a train or from a car. But on Sunday I got up close. Just for twenty minutes. Oh, and I had my new camera with me. Hurray.

angel wing

angel feet


First pics

February 11, 2010

Here’s some pics I have taken with my new camera; a surprising and lovely gift from a very kind reader of my blog. I’m just getting used to it and so far have only used it in automatic mode, but as you can see it takes lovely pictures, even of beer.

Andrea and Samantha requested animals. Andrea, smiling ones. Well, Tess always smiles. Inwardly. Trevor Hickman wanted a tiger. I’ll work on that, but for now here’s a lion. John Southern, Suvvo on Twitter, asked for an empty pint of Timothy Taylor.

I see this as the start of a bizarre project that could last all of a few weeks.

20 year old Tess sits by 2 month old Noah


Glass all full

Glass all empty

Pay it Forward… sort of

February 10, 2010

There’s a film called Pay it Forward. I haven’t seen it. I like it. Here’s the trailer. It does for me.

Just the trailer makes me cry. I’ll maybe avoid the film in case of severe disappointment. Take it from me, it’s a good film.

The kindness of strangers. That crops up a lot if you Google it. It’s part of the last line in A Streetcar Named Desire. And here’s me thinking I’d thought it up. The kindness of strangers. There’s lots of kind people out there, and yesterday I was the recipient of such a kind act it made me want to cry. Want to? Oh heck. I did.

A parcel had arrived for me at my agents. I went to pick it up. And someone I don’t even know had bought me a camera. A camera! From a stranger! I was overwhelmed. And I am now as I type this.

A few weeks ago my bag was stolen. My camera was in it. I prefer taking photos to taking cameras. I have been a little lost without it. I wrote a blog post about… well, not about my camera being stolen, but I did mention it in passing. And, a very very kind person bought me a new one  and left the message “This is to thank you for many years of entertainment and to replace your stolen camera. With love from some fans.”

I expect you’re crying now.

This is such a kind and unexpected act. It might be one of those moments where everything’s great and surprising and then… well, you wake up.

Thank you.

And thank you too to all my friends, including Professor Yard and Sarah, who offered me loans of cameras until I sorted myself out. Twitter, blogging… anyone who thinks these things are somehow unreal communities needs to get out more.

What can I do in return? Well, I now have a camera bought for me by you. I am your photographer. I am declaring myself, with no guarantees of any quality control, to be the People’s Photographer. You, dear and kind readers (and also the not so kind and dear ones) let me know what you need pictures of. I will take photos for you and get them to you within one week of your demand. All you have to do is tell me what you want photographed and where to send it. Be as inventive as you like, but try to avoid geographically challenging tasks. Be creative, but avoid portraits of unobtainable people. (If, say, you want a pic of George Clooney on top of Everest, well, I just won’t do it.)

It could be fun.

Right, I’m off to learn about my lovely new camera, and in a day or so put up picture number one. feel free to offer suggestions for that too.

Here’s an old picture from my last camera, taken in America at Christmas. No relevance, it just entertains me.

Santana Row people

Oh, and I think I know who you are, and if you are who I think you are, and you live East Dulwich way, you must, at the least, let me take you and your husband for a drink. And thank you so much. It’s one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. Of course you could be mad, but I doubt it.

I’m a comedian and here I am getting all soppy and sincere.

Did I mention that my stolen bag also had in it a car and a house?