Great American Pitchfest 7 Recap!June 30th, 2010
By Danny Manus
What a weekend. As many of you know, June 26-27th was the 7th annual Great American Pitchfest in Burbank, CA. I continue to think that the GAP is becoming the premiere writers’ conference in LA. Not only is it a great chance for writers to attend great classes for free and score some free consultant swag, but the pitchfest is a great way for writers to meet and connect with execs and just maybe – maybe – get their big break.
I think I was at the Pitchfest for about 27 hours this weekend, and it was definitely time well spent. It started for me at the ass-crack of dawn on Saturday – and for those who don’t know me, I’m not an early riser or morning person. Morning people scare me. But, worried I would oversleep, my body jolted me out of bed at 5am and, unable to press my internal snooze button, I got ready and headed out early.
I arrived before 7am – I was the first person there. But that was okay because it meant I got first crack at tables. And momma didn’t raise no fool – I grabbed some prime real estate across from the Writer’s Store – and set up shop. My lovely interns showed up to help and I got ready for my class which was to start at 9am. This was my 3rd year teaching at the GAP but it was a class I hadn’t taught at this event before (“Become Your Own Development Executive”).
I walked into the large room and the first thing I said was, “there’s no way I’m gonna fill this room.” But, by 9:30, I pretty much had. The class went perfectly – even without the use of power point, the class was a hit! The rest of the day was spent running between my private consultations and my table, making sure my interns weren’t overwhelmed and that people were signing up and hopefully buying my E-Book, “No B.S. for Screenwriters”! If there’s one rule that will always hold true, it’s that writers love free shit. Pens, candy, notebooks, bookmarks, postcards, etc. Whatever was on a table – writers grabbed it up like it was crack.
Now, Saturday wasn’t quite as busy as I was expecting – but there was still a good turnout. Hopefully next year, more writers will realize that the chance to take free classes from some of the best in the biz is an invaluable experience and shouldn’t be missed – especially before pitching to a room of execs! I guarantee the ones who took the classes had more luck than those who didn’t.
Anyway, the day went great and congratulations again to the winner of the free 30 minute phone consult raffle –Heathyr Clift. And as the classes and consults came to an end, and the tables were dismantled, the party began. I decided to forgo the karaoke – even though I’ve been known to rock the house on occasion – and had dinner with some new, good friends and chatted it up with my colleagues. The day finally ended around 10:15pm when I got home, totally exhausted. I don’t even remember taking off my shoes before hitting the bed, knowing all too well I’d have to be up early in the morning again for the pitchfest.
Sunday was…organized chaos. But that’s what a pitchfest is supposed to be. And to their much deserved credit, Signe and Bob put together a wonderful event that was run better than any other pitchfest I have been to (and I’ve been to dozens!). And the reason the GAP is different is that Signe and Bob are good people who treat everyone with respect – the writers, execs, teachers, consultants, etc. And as the execs traded cards and stories, and the writers stormed the tables Braveheart-style, it was almost scary for my poor interns who returned to listen to pitches with me for the day. Welcome to Hollywood.
The pitches just kept coming – I didn’t get a break the whole morning. And throughout the day, I heard a few great pitches – and a few bad ones – but maybe everyone had read my book or my articles because to my delight, I didn’t see ONE person there in costume or with a stupid gimmick. And that’s a victory in my eyes! And now, as I request my chosen scripts, it’s time to see if the writing is as good as the pitch. But even if it isn’t, the Great American Pitchfest 7 was a weekend to remember and I can’t wait to return next year.
Please make sure to tune into my weekly column for The Business of Show Institute – this pitchfest gave me a whole bunch of new ideas! And follow me on Twitter @nobullscript for daily screenwriting tips, rants, news, and more!