Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Never let them see you staring at their tits

Paying hundreds of dollars to pitch your "brilliant" script to studio "people" has become quite the trend amongst those of us desperate to break into Hollywood.

When I was a Texas yokel, I flew in to L.A. for a combination pitchfest/screenwriter’s conference. Including travel, lodging, and fees, I blew about a grand on my "big chance." While here, I spent 12 hours (yes, 12 hours!) waiting in line to buy tickets for the privilege to pitch. This is how it went.

1. One exec refused to let anyone shake his hand or otherwise make physical contact with him. I noticed as I pitched him, he slowly leaned back, getting farther and farther away. He may even have been holding his breath. (Filthy, filthy screenwriters!) Oddly enough, he requested my script.

2. Two of the pitchees looked right out of high school, with bored expressions and baseball caps boldly announcing they worked for a major studio. I can only surmise they were assistants forced to attend the fest by their bosses. "Chad and Wendy," as I came to think of them, sighed loudly and looked at their watches throughout my pitch. No request from them.

3. In contrast, one lady from Fox was profusely perky and supportive of every idea I flung at her. I could have pitched a snuff film and she would say, “Nice job! Great use of sex and violence! Keep at it!” It could also be that Fox simply has profoundly lower standards. Got a request from her.

4. Two scruffy-looking producers didn’t so much request scripts as write on note cards while people pitched, then separating them into different piles (Fabulous vs. Crapulous? Steal vs. “Re-imagine"?). No request.

5. A husband and wife team of managers proved the most daunting to pitch to, as the wife was disproportionately well-endowed and wore a low-cut shirt that left little more than areola-coloring to the imagination. And she insisted on LEANING OVER THE TABLE the whole time I stammered through my pitch. She just grinned the whole time, almost daring me to look. But, Jesus, her husband was right next to her! (Must…maintain…eye contact.) Never have my eye muscles strained as they did that day, performing all sorts of subtle ocular acrobatics. I’ll leave it to the reader to determine whether I looked or not, though I will say, they did not request my script.

It’s now several years later and nothing came of any of those requests. I’ve gotten much further through even half-assed attempts at networking while in L.A.

My advice? You’re better off taking a producer's assistant to lunch and schmoozing her. And try not to stare at her tits.

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