I came to California to pitch my writing ideas and scripts to two producers and an agent. I was quite worried about choking. I made handouts for each of these professionals as a crutch. I couldn’t get them printed because my hotel the Sheraton in Pasadena didn’t have a business center. Friday I planned to go to FedEx Kinkos but got stuck in traffic for an hour more than I planned and was just exhausted so that got postponed. Saturday I sought out a FedEx, but got lost. I figured I could find a FedEx by the site easily. Talk about wishful thinking. So I didn’t have my crutches.
The pitching event was held at a church near the Hollywood sign.
For some reason, I wasn’t that nervous. I spent a few minutes in the Green Room for the writers. Then I spoke with a representative of Parables TV, an organization I hadn’t heard of. I found the VP I talked with very personable so there was no nervousness. I’d decided to proceed as if I was telling a friend about the stories. I made sure I put some enthusiasm in my voice without sounding like a fake.
My meetings went one after another. My next meeting went equally well, I think. At least I felt like I was talking with an old friend. My next meeting went smoothly. In all cases, I was asked to send more writing.
So my view of the pitching might be wrong. My bar was low since all I cared about was to complete the pitches without getting overly nervous. It’s a long shot, but I do hope something good comes of this.
I’m in Los Angeles now preparing for Act One Writers’ Upfronts event where I will pitch three different story idea to three different producers. I admit I’m a trifle nervous. Today I’m preparing for these meetings by printing up some handouts to leave behind and protect me from verbal stumbling, watching some how to videos on persuasion and pitching.
Later today I’ll pick up a friend who’s also presenting for lunch and practice time. Then I’ll get my printing done, practice some more before going to a reception for the event this evening.
Prayers for success are most welcome.
One honest answer to the eternal question, “How do I break into Hollywood?”
I’m vowing to really get going with my writing. I want to push my career as a writer forward. I’ve gotten several television and film scripts in good shape. Now it’s a matter of getting them out into the world in spite of the Catch-22 that producers don’t want to read material from writers who don’t have an agent and agents don’t want to read material from writers who haven’t produced any work yet.
Yikes! What’s an aspiring writer to do?
In the past I wrote lots of letters and made lots of cold calls. I had some success because I did get a few agents to read my work and did get invited to pitch for a top sitcom, but that was years ago in the ’90s pre-Internet and pre-social media. Things are different now the Catch 22 remains.
I have gotten invited to pitch to producers via Act One’s Upfront program and will submit again once they open up submissions.
I’ve also entered contests, but there are few for television writers. I’ve written some producers and sometimes it’s hard to find the addresses of producers, who do want to limit submissions. One thing I’m glad I did was use my local library to get some addresses. They were able in a few hours to get the address for Reese Witherspoon’s company, Hello Sunshine, and to PBS. Their help saved me from wasting further time. Hello Sunshine, while incorporated, just didn’t show up in any business directories I had access to. So I’m grateful for the librarian who found something I couldn’t.
In addition to writing to producers who seem like a good match, I’m going to start writing a play. Tonight I’ll start an online course on Playwriting given by the Chicago Dramatists’ Workshop. My subject is a vibrant character from Chicago’s 19th century history.
I’ve just finished a screenwriting class taught by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing, Social Network, Steve Jobs, Sports Night, etc. fame. Masterclass offers the class for $90 and I found it to be a good deal.
Sorkin knows what he’s talking about and is frank about how some aspects of writing can be taught and others can’t. Even though he’ll sometimes go off on a tangent, I found the tangent worth the ride. He admits to non-linear conversational style up front so students are prepared. He shares the classic approaches to writing and swears by reading Aristotle’s Poetics. Some of what he said in the 35 lesson course, I’d heard before, but that didn’t bother me. I was glad to hear the wisdom reinforced.
After several sessions of lecture, eloquent, wise lecture, the course featured students working with Sorkin on story development, brainstorming, and pitching. I was disappointed by the homogenous age range in the group. I doubt anyone there was over 33. Some of these sessions lagged for me, but I did appreciate how respectful Sorkin was to the students. It would be easy for him to act supercilious, lesser teachers at say UCLA Extension sometimes do, but this Academy and Emmy Award winner did not. Kudos to Mr. Sorkin.
I think the class is best for those who’re a bit familiar with screenwriting so I advise people to either take a short course (nothing expensive is needed) or read a few screenwriting books. I will say I wish he’d offer suggestions on how to overcome the difficulty in getting a script read by people empowered to buy it.
I tried watching in China and Indonesia. The buffering was awful, while Coursera, TED and Lynda.com don’t have such a problem. So if you’re overseas, think twice before paying for this course.
A friend and I have been pounding out a script for a writing program we first thought had a June 1 deadline, and then discovered had an April 14th deadline.
We’ve finished the first draft and are polishing now. I do like the story, but am realistic and know that other writers are probably submitting stories they started years ago.
It’s been crazier than the April Script Frenzies where you had 30 days to write a script. Here we’ve had about 24.
After receiving feedback that isn’t “We’re dying to buy your story,” it’s easy to feel disheartened. I tend to think the answer is to come up with an action plan. It’s also good to have more than one project going.
I have started and laid aside an adaptation of book about the Gilded Age. I’ve resumed work on it and will make it into a play. I’m hoping that theatres are more open to submissions from new writers. Time will tell.
I’m also brainstorming for ways to revise my television series pilot and I’ve written two letters to see if more professionals will read and consider the story.