Monday, October 08, 2007

Get Thee To A Pitchery

So, as I said, I was in Los Angeles last week. (Or maybe the week before last...can't remember.) I was out to do some Hollywood pitching. Keen readers of the blog will know what we were pitching...shouldn't take a genius to put two-and-two together.

The pitches went well, I think. Everyone said they went well, and that's really all I've got to go on. Since this is the first time I was "in the room" with the express purpose of selling people on ideas, I've got no real frame of reference.

But the pitch process is a ludicrous one. We're writers, right? And we write. We've spent long hours hammering away at a keyboard, grafting fragments of ideas so they resemble a coherent story. That's what we do.

So if someone wants to see if an idea has enough meat on its bones to justify spending millions of dollars on to make a movie, if they can't read a script, they want a pitch. Which is fine. Totally understandable.

What I don't really understand is why that pitch needs to be delivered verbally. Why we needed to spend weeks writing a pitch that hit all the right notes, laced in all the character arcs and emotional beats, and hit the action sequences in a non-exhaustive manner—only to then have to memorize the whole thing so we could deliver it in an 18-minute monologue. (Or, since there was two of us, a duologue.)

Why couldn't we just email them the pitch?

I get that, in the days of the old studio system, people like Jack Warner were shepherding hundreds of movie ideas at a time, and wouldn't have time to read hundreds of proposals for new projects. So he'd ask for the "pitch." "Okay, these two lovers ended their relationship badly. He fucked off to Morocco to open a bar. She joined the French Resistance. Sorry, forgot: Nazis. And she needs travel papers, and only he can get them. Thing is, she's in love with another dude. Sad, sweet, darkly funny. And it'll end in an airport...maybe."

But today? No reason why we couldn't email them a document they could read in less time it takes us to pitch, and wouldn't suffer from nervousness, brain-farts, or mysterious chest colds. We're writers. We write. We're best when we write. (Except for those of us who used to be stand-up comedians, and know how to work a room like a motherfucker. P.S.: Thanks for the tips, John.)

I get that they want to meet you, and make sure you smell like a person who showers regularly, and don't have a third eye, or extra digits. But couldn't that happen after they read the pitch?

It just seems to me that it's another example of Hollywood's vise-like grip on nostalgia. This is the way it is done because it's the way it's always been done. Same reason every script has got to be written in 12pt courier. If it isn't, readers won't read past page one, and it'll die at the bottom of a recycling bin, even if it is the second coming of Casablanca. (And this, despite the fact that no one writes on a Smith Corona manual typewriter anymore. We just have to pretend we do.)

So, yeah, we pitched, and we did well. Things are "happening." But I can't say that I had an erg of fun doing it. Because this process isn't set up to be fun. But I'm damn glad I did it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...