Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Screenwriting Expo 6

Hey out there! For those of you who have an interest in the craft Screenwriting Expo 6 is coming up. This year it will be running from October 24th – 28th at the Marriott and Renaissance Hotels at the Los Angeles Airport. Here's the details... http://screenwritingexpo.com/about.html

The year that I went it was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center (very cool building by the way) next to the Staples Center just down the street from the Hotel Figueroa. I see it show up in movies, TV shows and commercials all the time. If you travel down the street just a little more to the left you’ll be in the same tunnel that Ridley Scott used for Blade Runner back in ’82.

But I digress…

If, by chance, you go I recommend sticking to the “Guests of Honor” section where you will hear from people who make their livings by writing. Conversely, it would behoove you, Gentle Writer, to only attend the classes that you have an interest in or really can’t find out in a book or on the internet. The classes that I took were all well and good but if you are a writer then you are going to write no matter what some self-proclaimed “expert” with no track record has to say on the subject and seriously, how many times can someone reiterate the importance of the “heroes journey”? I’m still having “Joseph Campbell” flashbacks.

Skip most of those classes for the others. The “Guests of Honor” are worth listening to. These are people who are willing to tell you their tales of navigating the industry and are generally there to answer your questions. This year includes William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Hearts in Atlantis – the Princes Bride), Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List – Gangs of New York – Clear and Present Danger), Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Peter Pan) and Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Mask of Zorro, Aladdin & Shrek). These people know what they are doing and are open to questions and conversation. I found this refreshing after sitting through a couple of classes. A few years ago my writing partner and myself spoke with Andrew Kevin Walker (Sev7en – Sleepy Hollow – The Wolfman [in pre-production]); he was accessible and amiable and patiently stayed after his presentation to answer all our questions.

Do go to the “Networking Parties” it’s an interesting experience meeting such a large group of people with the same twisted passion for writing. Be warned; however… this is L.A. and the land of make believe. Fiction is a staple in Southern California. Don’t unveil your master plan for the next summer blockbuster while at one of these parties. Don’t get too tainted by the laid back lifestyle. Don’t forget to stay focused, be friendly and don’t drink too much before you pitch your screenplay(s)… Just don’t.

Speaking of pitching… there’s “The Golden Pitch Tournament”. If you can get ticket(s) you will be purchasing 5 minutes of a studios time to hear an outline of your story. If they like what they hear they can option to buy your script. Of course they can also take your idea and steal it – this is L.A.; remember? Good. Never forget this.

But I digress.

The Pitchfest is always interesting to observe, writers will pimp themselves out just to make an impression. I know that the studios and production companies must really get a kick out of most of the writers that shake their hand and try to sell them their wares. It’s an exploitative town. Jay Leno has started interviewing some of the more eccentric screenwriters as they wait in line. It’s a funny bit that illustrates the fact that while all people can write not all people should. Still it makes me cringe a little; possibly it’s a little too close to home. One never knows, however, I have heard of some things being optioned but realize before going in the odds are pretty bad; still as one of my best friends always says, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you never take”.

Their website states the following when it comes to the Pitches of 2007, “One room with up to 60 of Hollywood’s A-list producers, development executives, agents, and managers looking for new material. No other event will offer writers better access to the people and companies capable of setting your writing career in motion. We’ve provided the venue, all you need to do is bring your best ideas and polished pitches — this is your chance to gain representation, sell your idea and make career-changing contacts.”

The Pitchfest gave me a new and deep appreciation for Independent Filmmakers. But, as I’ve said, one never knows.

If you are in the area and you have an interest you should go. Keep your ears and eyes open, learn and have one of those $3.00 cups of coffee that they sell there on the veranda. The sun is always shining in Southern California and looks spectacular through the glass panels of the Convention Center or the Marriott and Renaissance Hotels at the Los Angeles Airport; I would imagine.

Good luck out there.

“Looks like another perfect day… I love L.A.”.


Pax Romano said...


I will be in LA but in May.

I guess I am just going to have take private pitch meetings at Paramount on my own.

Yup, this May. Thirty years since I was there (my infamous lost weekend of 1978).

Evil Chicken said...

30 years ago? Yeah, it’s time for another visit!

L.A. is a unique place in the universe.