This article originally appeared on the London Screenwriters’ Festival blog.
We’ve all been there, whatever kind of writer you are, (baby, aspiring or old hack) you spend weeks or months writing your script. Pulling hair, tapping keys, consuming twice your body weight in coffee and snack food and to what end? Will this piece of your life forever languish in the darkness of a desk drawer until its recycled by grieving relatives? Or will it be discovered in a house clearance sale and make a puzzling appearance on Antiques Roadshow 2094. Scripts are written to be made, not used as scrap paper or shredded for your pet gerbil’s bedding.
It’s time to pack your cabin size red spotted hankie and head to Hollywood. You might even spot some real stars if you add a visit to the Griffith Observatory. So summon up all the mantras know to man and Just do it. Believe in better. Because your worth it.
It’s either that or waste more time having surreal arguments with Siri. Again.
“Open contacts” “There are fifteen gluten free restaurants nearby” “You ****ing idiot”
“Would you like me to search the web for “idiot”? ” *****!” “Fine.”
So having made it halfway across the world, what happens now? The GAPF is spread across a long weekend in Burbank. The first two days are packed with a huge selection of talks, classes, workshops, boot camps and seminars. There is everything from career strategy, networking, pitching to script structure. The choice of speakers is overwhelming; agents, executives and great writers like Dave Reynolds and Shane Black.
The main event is on Sunday, when the pitching begins. Do your homework in advance and have a list of the top fifteen you want to see as well as some backup choices. There are 150 plus delegates, so you may well stay up all night compiling these!
The whole event is highly organised, efficient and effective. Queues are formed beneath the number of each delegate. Be strategic about queuing. Assess queue lengths as you go and weigh up which ones to join and which to wait for. When you reach the front of the line, you’re called in to the pitching hall and wait.
A bell rings, the rope’s lowered, and you make way to your table number. Five minutes later, you’ve delivered your pitch and you move on.You may feel a bit like sheep but it does work. Do your research before hand and make sure you’re not pitching a sitcom to company only interested in documentaries, and have more than one project to pitch. Yes your unique idea is fabulous, they’ve already got one, “What else have you got?” By the end of the day you will be exhausted and invigorated. You’ll have seen far more people than you expected, had far more positive responses than hoped for and you’ll have become surprisingly confident at pitching.
Deal or no Deal? Well don’t expect to walk out with a freshly inked contract in hand, but the delegates want to be there, they want to hear what you’ve got. They are looking for exciting ideas, for great scripts and new writers. You will get some “thanks but not thanks” but you will also get asked to leave behind your one sheet, and possibly some script requests as well. It’s about making contacts, forming relationships and then building on them. Hopefully the next time you get to shake their hand, they’ll remember you.