Janette Griffiths

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Speed-dating for screenwriters

The massive machine that is the Hollywood film industry was cranking out another Pitch Fest last month.This is speed-dating for screenwriters who pay $20 per pitch for the privilege of going from table to table, describing in under 5 minutes why the producer sitting across from them should invest a few hundred  thousand dollars in their script.  I've recently rewritten an adaptation of one of my novels, The Singing House, set in the world of opera.  And I have an abiding belief that some studio executive, somewhere will wake up one morning and think, "I must, just must make a movie about an opera singer who is wrestling with a decision to end his career when he meets a witty dissatisfied woman on the eve of her wedding, who reignites his love for his music and helps him face a shocking secret from his past."

 I decided that I should, therefore, head for Hollywood and jump into the fray along with all the bright young men and women with their explosions, car chases and Social Network sequels. To be honest, I wasn’t going as far as Hollywood. The event was being held at the Westin LAX. I wouldn’t need to venture beyond the itinerary of the hotel to airport shuttle.

Screenwriting Expo was offering a good rate at the Westin but I left it too late to get in on that and washed up at the kitschy old Travelodge motel just a few yards down Century Boulevard. The place looks like a 1950s film set with its low 2 storey, rambling buildings set around the pool and among the lush hibiscus, bird of paradise and bougainvillea. A sign in the back of the lobby reminds guests that this place has seen much, much better days - was once host to Roy and Dale Rogers, to Patrick Stewart and to an elegant 50s exclusive ‘key’ club, the vestiges of which remain in the form of four silver-painted Greek columns along a wall in the back of the complex. Once I have read the sign, I start to see the reception area in a whole new light and can imagine the days when its wood veneers, fireplace and luxuriant plants ushered guests into a world of Hollywood glamour.

 These days it ushers guests towards the Dennys restaurant which is next door and offers good value but I have no appetite. I’ve never pitched a movie in person before and feel desperately unprepared for my first pitch the following morning. I am desperately unprepared, I discover, when I attend an evening reception and learn that everyone, except me, has come armed with a ‘one-sheet’. I had not known what a ‘one-sheet’ was until the previous day when I’d read on the Expo website that it is not obligatory. Now, I ask around and see that all the scores of ‘pitchers’ have a glossy sheet of paper complete with graphics that evoke their film, a brief summary of the plot and contact details. I slink back to the Travelodge and go into action.

Part 2 tomorrow

Sun, October 23, 2011 | link

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