Pitching the Summit - Tips from Experts

Ink Tip Pitch Summit

800 participants from around the world gathered at the Universal Hilton for the first annual Ink Tip Pitch Summit.  They were there to meet over 200 producers and film executives who were willing to hear their pitches.  

Ink Tip: Pilar Alessandra - On the Page

Saturday was filled with superb tips on moving forward both with your writing and your career.  Pilar Alessandra, On the Page Consulting and author of The Coffee Break Screenwriter, gave us tips on how to brainstorm though our writing blocks.  Changing one element in the scene can totally alter a movie and make it more intense.  She gave us the example of a police interrogation. We see the same scene in most police movies but what if the interrogation occurred on someone’s wedding day, or what if, instead of being two cops, it was a mother and daughter, or what if the cop interrogated as a therapist might.  Putting different obstacles in the protagonist’s way is another way to break out, she said.  Her book is especially useful for those of us writers who have to work 9-5 jobs while still nurturing our passion.  

Ink Tip: Gary Schusett of Sherwood Oaks College

In another room, Gary Shusett of Sherwood Oaks College – which holds producer and agent seminars through the year – moderated an intensive “Perfecting Your Pitch.”  On the panel were producers Suzanne Lyons, Susan Johnston, Michael Lent and story consultant James Jordan.  Named one of the top story consultants by Creative Screenwriting magazine, James said that “None of the pitches caught his attention and he thinks that after the intensive, many went back and rewrote their pitches for Sunday’s event.  

Ink Tip: Linda Cowgill - the Art of Plotting

Linda Cowgill taught the Art of Plotting.  “All writers write suspense of some form.  The problem must be set up, the obstacles created, the clock ticking as the stakes are raised and finally the conclusion.  Keep in mind, what is the consequence if the hero fails.  The more obstacles, the better the suspense.  

Legal 411, conducted by entertainment attorney Dinah Prez, covered questions of rights and how to deal with them and what to retain as well as obtaining rights for a project.  While Cameron Graham of Writer’s Boot Camp talked about how you can impress your agent or manager. 

Ink Tip: Susan Johnston and Suzanne Lyons, indy producers - new media

Michelle Wallerstein (author of Mind Your Own Business) taught story structure while Catherine Ann Jones, ( author of The Way of the Story)  taught the art of pitching.  She explained that Hollywood doesn’t like to read and that brevity is the way of the pitch.  She cautioned the participants to do research on whom they were pitching to and making sure that they have the right fit.

Ty Johnston taught about using your script for other media.  Agent Babz Bitela of the Silver Bitela Agency gave another pitch practice session and talked about the difference between a log line and a tag line and the free option.  

Bill Boyle, author of Visual Mind of the Screenplay, taught us how to make our narrative be more visual while Steven Kaplan gave us the do’s and don’t of comedy structure.  “You can only have one lie in a comic premise and everything after that has to flow naturally from that lie – as in Liar, Liar.” 

Ink Tip: Steve Kaplan, comedy writer

Wendy Kram told us about how stories got greenlite.  

The afternoon’s expert course, moderated by Jerrol, was about breaking in and included Chris Billett, Ross LeMarin, Michael Davis and Steve Adrich.  

Sunday was the day everyone waited anxiously for.  With so many more people than planned for, the beginning was a little slower than planned for and a few participants were upset at this. Things worked out and the pitches started in earnest at 10:45 and continued with breaks until late in the day.  More than more person left the room with smiles on their faces because material had been asked for by the producers. 

Ink Tip: Jerrol Le Baron, Ink Tip Founder

Always leery of pitch festivals, because many times the people there are lowly members of the team and do not have power to greenlight ideas,  I found Ink Tip to be refreshingly solid.  Jerrol LeBaron, Ink Tip’s Founder, vetted every exec attending to make sure that they were real producers and often had the company CEOs at the table talking to the hopeful writers.  Each writer was promised at least 35 pitches.  They were able to accomplish this because Jerrol gathered three execs per table.  All three execs were looking for similar features so one five minute slot got you three for one.  Lines, however, were long and while some might have gotten more than 35 there were a few disgruntled participants who felt there should have been more time.  

Ink Tip is an online marketplace for scripts where the writer can list their feature, teleplay or short and producers can shop for what they want.  There have been many engagements and quite a few marriages between producer and writer through Ink Tip and those who have used the service see it as a way to break in especially for those who do not have an agent or manager.

Sponsors for the event were Write Brothers script software, Next TV, ISA, Scripped.com, Coverage,Ink, Script Savy, Story pros, Cinequest, New Media Film Festival, Visionfest, World Fest Houston, First Glance, United Film Fest, Hollywoodscript.com, Scriptapolooza, Going Green Film Fest, Production Hub, Shriekfest, and Las Vegas Film Festival.

For more information go to www.inktip.com.

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