Monday, June 11, 2012

Great American PitchFest, part 2

Saturday morning started with 9am FREE sessions. Bob and Signe really compiled a diverse and informative set of panels for this day of learning.

The sessions lasted 1.5 hours each with half-hour breaks in between. There were so many good panels to listen to, I had a hard time choosing. I finally decided to go to the TV writing panels, since that's where my current writing interest is leaning.

Writing the Killer Procedural
9:00am to 10:30am – Academy Six Ballroom
with Jennifer Dornbush
Learn to ace the procedural with step-by-step instruction from Jennifer Dornbush. You’ll learn how to structure it, pick the best type for you, create a monster antagonist, lay out a crime scene, use scientific evidence, build a compelling string of clues and solve the crime with an emotional pay-off.

Jennifer gave a 16 point breakdown of the average procedural, which really resonated with me. And at the end of the day I had the chance to thank her for the session when she sat at our table for drinks. It was fun discussing her writing career. I'm sending out positive vibes for her pitch meetings at the end of June. She's pitching a police procedural to several network and cable stations.

How to Get, Keep & Manage Your Agent or Manager
11:00am to 12:30pm – Academy Four Ballroom
with Sheree Guitar (Mgr), Mike Kusciak (Mrg) & Chad Gervich
Every talented writer wants an agent or manager, but how do you find one? Our expert panel will share tips and insights on getting an agent or manager, selecting the representation that’s best for you and what your next steps are. Learn about the writer/rep relationship and what you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your team. Their advice will help you find the right agent or manager for you and teach you what you need to do to keep them in your corner.

There were actually four people on this panel, and I'm so sorry I don't have all of the names. This was standing room only, as people piled into the room to listen to the agents and managers dole out tasty morsels of information.

After the extremely informative session, the crowd mobbed the panel, so Sarah, Kiyong and I decided to flee.

In the lobby, I was able to speak to Mike from Samuri MK about writing and movies. We had so much in common, it was uncanny. After a short discussion on adapting screenplays into novels, we decided we should do a panel on this very subject next year. (Hopefully, Bob and Signe will agree that this would be a great session for the 2013 GAPF)

Had a tasty lunch with Zac Sanford, Sarah Newman, and Mike Alber. We had so much fun at lunch that we were late to the afternoon sessions and arrived to more "standing room only" rooms.

The afternoon sessions I attended were:

Write a TV Pilot Script
2:30pm to 4:00pm – Academy Four Ballroom
with Jen Grisanti
Since launching Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc., Jen has helped develop over 300 pilots and had 11 clients sell pilots. In this class, she’ll cover how to find a concept, story structure, finding your voice in your story, defining a dilemma and having a clear goal from it, building obstacles, elevating stakes, adding theme, symbolism and message and setting up your series. She’ll review common mistakes, explain how to write a pitch document and bible and include her workbook “How to Write a TV Pilot Script.”

The Comic Premise
4:30pm to 6:00pm – Academy Five Ballroom
with Steve Kaplan
What are the keys to writing a comedy that works? Why do some comedies work more successfully than others? This session will explore the heart of a comedy—its initial premise. The session will explore how to construct a great premise that has the potential to develop into the sharpest, funniest version of your comic idea.

The grueling day of learning was followed by a poolside "Schmooze Fest" of drinks and appetizers. In other words, hours of drinking and being pulled in a hundred different directions and just as many conversations. Again, I was able to meet several more ScriptChat regulars and guests. The highlight of my evening was seeing a friend I'd met at GAPF the year before. We'll call him "Schmidt." He's a true professional, and I hope the best for him in his screenwriting career, as he has a great script he's shopping.

Another highlight of the evening was meeting the Russian journalist, and horse enthusiast, Lena. We had an intriguing conversation, and now I want to go to Russia to see her husband's play. Lena is a fabulous photographer who is in California for the filmmaker school at USC.

I'm sure I'm forgetting many conversations, but there was just so much going on that night. One conversation I won't forget was with film editor Eric Brodeur. Great fun, and a very interesting guy. We talked about everything from bio-fuel to beer. The night ended way too soon.

Sunday was all about the pitches, and I'll post about those in Part 3, tomorrow...

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