Screenwriting Expo 6 Golden Pitch Review - Screenwriters Eager to Learn and Sell

“If you build it, they will come.”

It seemed like an international meeting – and in a way it was.  For the Screenwriting Expo Sixth Annual Seminar, October 25-28th, people came from Australia, China, South Africa, the Middle East, Europe and all over the United States eager to learn about perfecting their writing and selling their stories.  Some were first time screenwriters and others were established pros.

There were nearly nine hundred people on the first day, with more arriving  steadily throughout the four day weekend at the Renaissance Hotel - Los Angeles Airport.  The Golden Pitch, as part of the Screenwritering Expo Sixth Annual Seminar proved to be as much as a draw for the conference as the wonderful speakers, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (Pirates, Shrek); horror king William Martel, Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and famed book to script adaptation queen, Taylor Van Arsdale.   Each of the speakers gave valuable tips on adding that little bit of spice to your story to make it stand out.

When asked about his secret of successful writing, Rossio responded, “I write for the reality of the feeling.  I decide what emotion is needed for the story and I construct my scenes to portray the characters and evoke the maximum feeling from the audience.”

From the moment Screenwriting Expo 6 Golden Pitch doors opened, the hopefuls began gathering, planning, talking and preparing.  Some were polite, but others nearly desperate, as they edged toward the hotel ballroom where executives from all over the Hollywood production kingdom (90 companies represented in all) waited to judge the merits of stories. 

The cost for each five minute meeting was $25, in addition to the fee for the seminar.   Many participants pitched their ideas five or six times, some as many as twenty.  Some folks spent their whole conference time going from pitch to pitch.

The companies accepting pitches included the historic RKO, which is making a comeback and is represented by Peter Lutz.  Founded in 1929 from the merger of the Keith Orpheum theater circuit (1882), Joseph P. Kennedy’s Film Booking Office (1917) and Radio Corporation of America (RCA) (1909), RKO is the oldest of the continuously operating movie studios, occupying a unique place in the history of filmmaking.  During the Golden Age of Hollywood, RKO released an average of 40 movies per year, and some years they released one film each week!  Today, their mission is to revive the timeless stories that built the stars of the past, pairing those stories with the filmmakers of tomorrow. 

In explaining what they were looking for, Lutz said they were bringing back some of the old classics, such as Body Snatchers, but were also looking to new horror thrillers.

Other participants represented new styles of movies - MTV and Fangoria - plus actor based companies such as Reese Whitherspoon’s Type A ( Jessica Raynso) and Roth Arnold Productions ( Jacelyn Clearey).  There were also established companies such as Lionsgate ( Lindsay Rayme) and New Line Cinema ( Kristin Grant) as well as TV companies like Intermedia TV ( Lauren Rose).

John Swartz of MTV said that even with writers whose stories are all over the place, you have to give them respect for their creative work.  More than one representative expressed that writers have to think their stories out fully, even if they only presented a few lines as the tip of the iceberg.  

Since Fangoria does a lot of horror,  and monsters come in all shapes and sizes, a detailed visualization of the evil antagonist would help show the uniqueness of a particular story, helping a pitch to stand out. 

Also present were management groups like Headlong Entertainment and Mosaic Media.  The management groups had both their managing team and production division present.  Taylor Feltner of Station 3, another management group, strongly suggested a one page “leave behind” since during the course of the weekend the representatives were presented with several thousand pitches.
Sean Finnegan, sitting in for the famed Silver Pictures – the new TV show Moonlight being one of their successes – found that one of the problems most of the pitching writers had was they were trying to tell complicated stories.  “In five minutes, you have to keep it simple and then let me ask questions if I want to know more.”

Creative Screenwriting Magazine Presented Expo 6

Among the many successes of the weekend were Len and Alli Lippman from Sacramento.  They bought 47 pitches and hit home runs in five places (five companies requested their script) as well as 40 other companies taking their contact information.  Five of those have called them, as of this writing.  As new writers, they attended Expo 5 and were so encouraged by the response that they decided to work full time as writers.  In the past year, they produced 6 scripts. 

A pair of sisters from Australia got encouraging nods from the CAA agency as well as numerous production houses.   

Every one of the representatives were enthusiastic to talk to the writers and unlike what you often hear at pitch fests, they were very encouraging to the writers.

Having attended numerous seminars such as this, I can honestly say that nearly everyone seemed to come away happy. If you have not already booked your calendar for Expo 7, you might want to consider it now.

To learn more about Creative Screenwriting magazine and the next Screenwriting Expo visit these links:

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