The big day! I had all of my pitches today. Plus, some of the creative team from Pixar were there to talk to the Expo. They were amazing! I heard Andrew Stanton (director of "Finding Nemo"), Brad Bird and Mark Andrews (director and head of story, respectively, of "The Incredibles"). It was really inspiring. These are people who love film (particularly my early love- animation) and have managed to really fight the studio system to get their work made (though Andrew Stanton warned that he is not a good person to ask for industry advice because he doesn't work in Hollywood, he works in "Fairyland"). I totally agreed with Brad Bird (who also made "The Iron Giant-" a really incredible film) when he said, "I would do this job for free. What they actually pay me for is to deal with the bureaucracy." Amen to that! Anyway, the pitches:
What a strange reality that was! All of these people were in their mid-to-late twenties. They were all junior executives and interns. It was a little surprising. It was also very eye-opening. We were on different sides of the same struggle: beginning a career in film. What they need is talent to represent or produce. What we need is representation and support! The edge disappeared and I was able to be myself. Essentially, I was meeting with peers. It was like mingling at a bar (especially since it was necessary to scream over all of the noise in the room). Suddenly, they were all just human. Out of six pitches, three producers and two agents want to see my work. I was floored! Really? The only one who turned me down was admittedly looking for television ideas.
Of course, I won't hold my breath or assume that this means anything, but at least I know that I can pitch a project and that the film I am working on at least sounds interesting! I saw plenty of disappointment and head shaking, so I didn't get that, at least. What floored me even more than acceptance was that one agency rep became interested in me when he learned that I knew Stan Brakhage. "No way! I love his work! My buddies and I were so bummed when he heard that he passed away two years ago." Huh? I would never have imagined driving to Hollywood and dropping Stan Brakhage's name to a junior exec at a talent agency! Suddenly, I was able to see that my two film lives didn't need to be so exclusive of one another.
Still, the experience was a bit surreal. At 15 minutes before your pitch, you are herded (with about 60 other people) into a room. At 10 minutes before your pitch, you are herded to the other side of that room. At 5 minutes before your pitch, you move to the "five minute zone" (a new room) and stare into the pitch pit (a bunch of long tables with numbers, pitchers and pitchees). When the referee announces that the current pitchers have one minute, you are told to file into the room, find your rep, and hover quietly over the person finishing up their pitch. When the bell rings, you count to ten and if the person sitting in your seat has not moved, move them. On my third pitch, I made the mistake of trying to move the rep rather than the pitcher. Oops! It turned out to be the most successful pitch, actually. I felt totally spent after the experience.
My day went from 8AM-11PM, so I am rewarding myself for a script well pitched and taking the final day off tomorrow to hit the beach. Oh, and my brilliant inter-species/racism scene (see day four) only got a score of 83. You needed a 90 to make it to the next round. No $5,000. Even better, I’m off the hook and can get a little sunshine on my ghostly skin!