Friday, 2 January 2015

LSF 2014 Part 2: What did I do?

See Part 1 for information on the event in general.

So what did I actually do? 
Well the event starts before the weekend with special day sessions. Because this was my first time I attended Pilar Alessandra’s Pitching Thursday which is a crash course on getting that pitch trim and fit. Wish there was something like that for New Year slimming. I then used that information through the week.

There are also special events running through the weekend and beyond that you can apply for. The first scheme was run by Hayley McKenzie of ScriptAngel. This was 6 months mentoring for one person. I was in the final 20 and this inspired me to apply for the Advance Mentoring Script Labs.

Each lab gives specialist mentoring for six people.  The lab lasts 3hrs on the day but starts before the weekend and continues after. Readers do the short list of 12 then the Mentor selects the six they want.  

 I got selected for Steve La Rue’s Fantastical TV. It was amazing and allowed me to refine my pitch and rework my script some more. Steve was inspirational and funny and made us all relaxed.

I did a Script Doctor session to discuss my script. These are run by Euroscript. The 1-2-1 slots went very fast but they then opened some where you share with three others and I did that. A good hour spent with Paul Bassett Davies who gave me great advice on my series structure.

THE BIG ONE - Pitchfest:

You don’t have to do this but a lot of people do. It is soooo worth it. You apply for a 90mins session and there are 5mins slots for pitching. A big clock does the countdown and a bell rings for all change.

There are about 2.7 people for each pitch table so you do need to queue a bit. I managed 6 people in the session because everyone raced into the middle of the room at the start and missed the tables at the front. I therefore managed to pitch them both in the first 5 mins! Yes it is possible. We even had time for a bit of a chat too.

Of the 6 I pitched I got one polite no, 5 took my one pagers and 2 asking me to send scripts when ready. One of the one pagers has come back with a “not for us” and I thanked them for considering me. I had gone to the session thinking of it as a learning exercise because I hadn’t done it before so that response was wonderful. One even told me I had a great pitch. I came out of the session buzzing.

Now this event really does need preparation. The organisers release information on the people you can pitch to as they book in. Because of business commitments this changes all the time with people changing slots, adding or leaving the event.

Keep track of who will be there and in what slot. Work out which slot will be best for what you are planning to pitch. Many of us resorted to spreadsheets with scoring systems for how much you wanted to talk to them and how many of your projects fitted what they did.

RESEARCH the people so you know who they are and what they do. There will be reminders at each table but think of them as memory joggers. There will be executives, producers, directors and agents at each session. They will be looking for different things.

The big boys (Sky, BBC, etc) turn up on Friday. I went for Saturday which had more independent producers. Sunday is the quietest and friendliest day. Many who are there on Saturday also go to Sunday. Don’t assume your best chance is with the big boys. From the feedback I got those of us who went on Saturday got more positive responses.

Once you have that sorted in your head the next thing is the race to apply for slots. They all went in 10mins. You need to be online ready for when the slots are released and work fast! I was on the chatroom with many of the others singing The Final Countdown, thanks Chris, before we dived over. REMEMBER TO REFRESH THE PAGE when the zero hour arrives.

If you get your slot then well done.  I danced round the room when my one was confirmed.  If you don’t get the slot then don’t despair. Some people book but never turn up or cancel so keep in touch with the organisers. Some people will also swap because  they may not have got the slot they wanted.

If you get a slot but not the one you wanted do not despair. The people in the room may surprise you. Be flexible.  Pitch anyway. Several I pitched to had a wider interest than was in their blurb and asked me to pitch one I thought they wouldn’t want. Remember to have fun too.

Events I missed?

The Actors Table Reads done by professional actors and directors. You submit your sample and they select you. Professional actors and directors do the reads. I kept doing a double take seeing familiar faces walking down the corridors. Note you can only attend if you have one of the selected scripts in the slot.

The Legal Labs where you book a slot to discuss legal issues about your writing

Pitch Factor. You put £5 in the hat then go on stage and pitch to a panel of Hollywood bigwigs. If you win you get the hat. I had planned on doing this but was too exhausted to stay. Maybe next year.

Elevator Pitch: You have the time it takes to go up and down in the lift (90sec tops) to pitch and get the card. You have no idea who is in there. I arrived too late so missed pitching to Joel Schumaker. Note that 15mins before it starts is already too late. I missed getting a place by one person. Again next time.

This is not a comprehensive list of events but hopefully gives you a taste of what happens in a very busy weekend.

So don't be scared. Give it a go. Everyone will do something embarrassing at one point during the weekend. My embarrassing moment was to be too tired at the end of the day to read "Go away we are talking" vibes from two guest speakers. They must have thought I was so rude as I hovered. Eventually my brain cranked back into gear and I slunk off blushing. I still cringe about it now and hope they don't think I am some kind of weirdo.  I witnessed others too but you pick yourself up and carry on with consoling pats on the back from the writers round you.

I would like to thank the LSF team who worked so hard through the year to organise this event. I know they were working long hours the week leading up to it and I was amazed how they kept smiling through the weekend too.

Hope to see you there next year, feel free to say hello, and remember to have FUN!!!

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