It doesn't seem that long since the Screenwriters' Festival last July, but I got this email today:
"As the year hurtles to it's inevitable end we are starting to gear up and begin prep on the Screenwriters' Festival 2009. Tickets will go on sale in November so we are now starting the more popular than ever pitching competition, which this year we are calling 'The Son of the Pitch', yes it's a little b-movie-ish but we like it.
Once again we want you to send us your movie or tv ideas so that you can win the opportunity to pitch your idea live to a panel of leading industry professionals. Oh and you get to do in front of all the other delegates too. So whether your idea is about vampires, princesses, ratmen or whatever, send them to us. Click Here to find out all the entry information as well as the rules and regulations.
SWF'08's pitch winners Martin Gunn, Simon Sayce and Elena Fuller have all had a little push in their careers thanks to them taking part in the competition and pitching live on stage. Their ideas were chosen out of over 1,600 entries from over 1,200 entrants, and then chosen from the ten live pitches. This could, and will, happen to you if your idea is chosen...
So, get those ideas in starting from Monday 8th September at 17.00pm (GMT).. The closing date is Friday 31st October 17.00pm (GMT) so you've got almost two full months to get your entries into us."
The deadline is quite a bit earlier than last year (I think it was February!) so there is no time to waste. Of course this is one competition whereby winning might not be for everyone - having to pitch in front of so many people is pretty scary! During my MA, three producers were invited in and we would take it in turns to pitch to them.
Beforehand, we had a practice session in groups and with a tutor. And I sucked. Big time. But I consoled myself with the theory that practicing pitching is like taking penalties in training, i.e. it doesn't really matter because there is no pressure so what's the point anyway. I was sure that when the real thing came along I would rise to the occasion, wowing the producers with both my pitch and charisma.... And I sucked again.
Formal pitching is certainly not as big here than in the US, but it's still a useful thing to be able to do. I'm a little better at it now, although still not great, but when I do network and get talking to people, I am able to get out a couple of lines about a project. Well, it's a start. And hopefully you can always follow it up with an email and phone call. For example, I approached one of the producers who came into college some time later and assured her that my script was better than my awful pitch. To her credit, she believed me, and read it! It didn't come to anything at the time but she has read another script of mine since, being quite complimentary about both, and we continue to keep in touch.
So I would urge everyone to get involved with this competition. You never know. And although winning might actually be worse than not, ultimately, you'll get over the fear and really benefit from the exposure. (Well I say that now but of course if I am lucky enough to be one of the ten you'll be able to see me shaking a mile off.) But as I always say, you gotta be in it to win it.
Good luck everyone!
Check out Mr Arnopp's excellent post on last year comp and some great tips on the black art of pitching!