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.


2 Responses to “Smack my pitch up!”

  1. Samantha said

    Wow, what a post! and what an event! You are brave! It sounds like you did well, but it does sound like a very bizarre event. I liked the tinkle jokes, ha! 🙂

  2. Hi Simon
    I feel your pitch pain. I did a similar thing during my first (and so far, only)only trip to Cannes. My main comment was that one of the judges couldn’t hear me, so all I learnt from the experience was PITCH LOUDER.

    For the worst pitch this side of ‘A Partridge Amongst The Pigeons’ look no further:

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