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So I had a really cool development happen recently! I was recently offered the opportunity to join the team at Evil Overlord Games to help out as they work to meet the release deadline for their first game!

Evil Overlord is a game startup company working on an urban fantasy interactive fiction browser game called Susurrus. The head writer, Tory Root, is someone who I have known and larped with for years now, so the high quality of her game writing has long been known to me. First she offered me the chance to do some freelance writing for the project, but then I accepted a part-time position to come onboard to help her, both with content generation as well as with wrangling the other freelancers, gathering their work and making sure they meet ther deadlines.

This is super exciting for me. It means WRITING PROFESSIONALLY, which is a total dream. It has to be part time because of the teaching commitments I made to Lesley, but I am so happy to have this chance. Plus it's a validation of all the time and effort I've put into game writing over the years, that it honed my craft to the point where someone had faith in my abilities to hire me for it.

I've only just begun, but I am determined to do a good job. Wish me luck!
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I got good feedback from my entry of my TV pilot Hood into this year's BlueCat Screenwriting Competition! It was the best kind, because the good stuff was very complimentary, and the critiques were both minor and actually insightful and useful, worth incorporating into an edit of the piece.

My report from my reader:

"What did you like about this script?

This was an extremely original take on the familiar Robin Hood tale. Updating it and setting it up as a corporate thriller made it different and exciting. There was almost non-stop action, though not only of the explosive kind. I particularly liked the elevator scene.

We saw a lot of backstory and character development in just this one episode. Plus, a lot of things were set in motion. Who is attacking Locksley Materials? Why don’t John and his mother want authorities snooping around? How will Robin get his reputation back and avoid the authorities? The pilot has a lot of momentum.

I also loved the characters and thought it was wise to update them as well… like turning Will Scarlet into female hacker Scarlet or making “Maid” Marian Latina. They were very believable and consistent.

You also did a good job of revealing things in a timely manner, letting the mystery unfold organically. Your dialogue was generally great and you wove your exposition into the story well, like when Marian expresses doubts about Robin by telling a story from their college days together on page 35.

I would love to see more of this show, since there are many tantalizing plot threads left up in the air.

What do you think needs work?

There were a few minor things that could be clarified to make this script even better. For example, I know Robin was desperate but he really thought that going off a bridge would be preferable to getting arrested? Maybe he’s not in the best state of mind, but I was surprised he chose to do that. Now, if someone drove him off the road, I could believe it a bit more.

Also, while Scarlet and Marian were wonderful characters, it might help to emphasize why they want to help Robin find the truth. It’s mentioned a few times that Robin helped Scarlet get to where she is, but it’s still a huge leap for her to risk her livelihood for him. Their banter does show that they’re friends, but are they so close she’d take a chance getting fired or arrested? Likewise, Marian seems to have doubts about Robin but is also suspicious that something else is going on. Her thirst for the truth needs to be so powerful that it overcomes her doubts about Robin and her worries for her job. I know her mom seemed to be affected so maybe playing that up a little would further show the audience why she’s willing to risk the career she worked so hard for."

It would really make me happy if I placed in this. Adonis made it into the top ten percent of BlueCat back in 2015, and it's a reputable contest. It's a nice thing to be able to attach to a project when you're pitching it, so it would be great if Hood could progress.
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Oh, wow. I was going to complain about how little I wish to do actual work today, as I would much rather work on my exegesis of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I've been chipping away at here and there for several months now. But I just got some statistical information about the student evaluations handed in for my three classes last semester. I averaged above a four out of five for all values my students could assess me on, which means they thought I did a good job-- a very good job, even. And I got contacted by the very nice humanities division director, who is not usually the person who reaches out to me about class availability, to ask me if I would take on some classes this fall. I'm not sure, but it felt kind of like there was specific desire to retain me, when usually I express my interest in being hired for classes if there any available. That is validating.

I am not a natural teacher; I wouldn't say I have much talent for it. I probably would not have characterized myself as a very good one. Decent, solid, perhaps, but not good. But I've been trying very hard to do a good job, and it pleases me to see that it's paid off in students who feel I did right by then, and said so to the school when asked about it. And hey, I have at least a couple classes nailed down for the fall already, with the possibility of more, so I don't have to stress out about that.

Guess I can't slack off now. Looks what I've been doing has been working.

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Last year I started a practice where whenever something good happens, I write it down and put it aside to look at on New Years. 2016 was an awful year, and honestly I expect 2017 to be worse, but in the interest of practicing gratitude and not getting bogged down in negativity, it's good to focus on good things too.

I notice a lot of this stuff is similar to last year-- it's clear what sort of thing I consider to be a success --which at first glance made me feel like I didn't make much progress. But it actually shows small steps forward, such as breaking into screenwriting and improving my day job situation. And small steps build up, right? So focusing on the fact that I did show forward growth is good for me.

1. Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina were performed at Arisia 2016 to an audience of over 400
2. Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina were performed again at Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016 to an audience of about 150
3. Vivat Regina and Base Instruments were accepted for performance at Arisia 2017
4. Vivat Regina and Base Instruments were accepted for performance at Watch City Steampunk Festival 2017
5. Started a relationship with one television executive who thinks my work is worth showing around
6. Lesley rehired me for both spring and fall semesters, with more classes and a higher rate each time
7. Base Instruments had a public staged reading with Bare Bones
8. I wrote a new television pilot, Hood, that has gotten some good response
9. I completed 31 Plays in 31 Days for the fifth time
10. I got Hood requested for reading three times
11. I found an acne treatment that worked for me and my skin looks clear
12. Most of the Hawking cast returned for the third round in a row
13. Even with the departure of my old friend, I was able to find a great actress to play Mrs. Hawking
14. Started a relationship with a second television executive who thinks my work is worth showing around
15. I made more money this year than I did last year
16. Bernie got a new job
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This past week, Bernie accepted a job with the patent office in Alexandria, VA. It's a pretty good position, with a good salary and great benefits, as well as a lot of flexibility and room for advancement. It'll be so great for him to really get his life going, which job searching has kind of put on hold since he graduated. It's not exactly what he wants to do long term, but it's a good move for now and I'm really proud of him.

But while it's definitely a good thing, I'm still a little sad because it means that Bernie and I are going to be separated for at least another year. I was started to get hopeful that he might be able to move back into the area by the point my lease was up and we'd be able to get a place together.

It's not the end of the world. Our relationship has been uniformly strong through all the last few years apart and I'm not worried about that part. As we also discussed, if something else he applied for (he's more interested in lab work or something a little more directly doing science) happens to get back to him with a perfect offer in New England, there wouldn't be much barrier to him taking it. And a year isn't that bad, especially if he's starting to make money, build his resume, and start really putting together his own life.

So this is definitely good news and a step in the right direction. It's just not perfect news, but then again, that's life. I'm grateful for the improvement.
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I really like compliments. I love getting them, of course. I want them all day long, about everything; one year I even asked for them for my birthday. (I'd do it again if I didn't hate drawing attention to my aging!) But I also really like giving them. They cost nothing and they make people really happy if you do them right, so they make lovely little gestures of esteem that can really change someone's day. It's amazing how such a small, easy thing can have such a great effect.

I think I'm pretty good at giving them, too. The trick, I find, is to make them specific. Don't just say general nice things, like, "Good job." Take the time to notice particular things that are well done or worthy of appreciation about the person. When I come up to a person after seeing them in a show, I don't like to say, "You were great!" I like to say, "I loved the expression on your face in that one moment," or "My favorite part was the way you interacted with your scene partner in [scene]." Or if somebody wrote something, I mention "I loved the way you phrased that," or "That characterization really rang true to me."

It shows that you were really paying attention and put some thought into what they did. Because if your interest was captured enough to notice particularities, it speaks to meaning and significance of their efforts. And it's harder to fake-- anybody can say you did a good job even if they didn't even pay attention to it, but mentioning the quality of specifics is something that required you actually focusing on it and caring about it. For people who aren't confident and inclined to worry that people are just being kind rather than voicing genuine approval, it helps reassure them that the compliment is sincere. I find even people without that problem people enjoy getting that kind of compliment the most, so I try hard to find particulars I enjoy in order to make the ways they excel are really appreciated.
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So earlier this week, I got a very encouraging email from my producer contact! Bernie and I sent her our Hood pilot at the beginning of the month, and she read it right away and gave a very positive response! She not only really likes it, she thinks it has potential in the current market. I am ridiculously pleased, as our effort was to create something solid that was specifically commercial, and it looks like she thinks we succeeded. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that she told us she's sharing it around with colleagues; the more eyes on it, the more people can get behind it.

She asked us to write a show bible for it as our next step. That's our next important project, with the intention of getting it to her in the next two weeks. That means I'll be prioritizing that over scene generation until it's finished, so I may not have time to focus on new scenes. Of course I'll still be writing, so I'll just post Hood scenes that were an equivalent amount of work in its place.

Like today, I have focused myself on getting a good start into the bible. So I'm posting this scene of Robin and John from around the midpoint of the story. It takes place after all the Hood scenes posted up to this point except for Day #3 - Rich Boy Out of Water, which it comes a little bit before.

Day #21 - Run )
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I am at my happiest when I have a goal to work towards and sufficient encouragement to make me feel like I have hope to achieve it. I'm pleased to say I've got that going for me right now.

Bernie and I had a very encouraging meeting with that cool producer that loved the Adonis script and asked to read the Mrs. Hawking TV pilot. She liked the pilot too and indeed saw production potential in it! She had some very good criticisms of it, the kind that made sense, supported realizing the vision, and were definitely conducive to making edits. She thinks she might be able to hook us up with a manager or agent by introducing us to the right people. God knows nothing's sure, but it's definitely encouraging to know that the possibility is there.

So we have a lot of work to do from here. Bernie and I are going to make the requested edits to the Mrs. Hawking pilot. She also thought it was a good idea to write treatments for the other Hawking stories, which would involve adapting the plays into episodes. AND she asked if we had anything else we were working on, to which we gave her our pitch for Hood! That's our Robin Hood heist series updated to a modern setting. So that means we need to put together that pilot, to a high standard in short order. This piece is supposed to be a little more commercial, cheaper to produce, and broader of appeal than some of the other things we've done, with an end to helping it get sold.

It's a tall order, but I'm really excited to get to work. Nose to the grindstone!
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My most recent request to read Adonis resulted in the producer wanting to talk to me! CHECK OUT THIS REPORT:



HOW 'BOUT THAT. 😄😊😆
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In my hero's boast, I laid out everything that I have to do from now until the end of the year.

One of those things was that I wanted to stay on both the smoothie diet and the fighter abs exercise program for twelve weeks. Just around Christmas, I completed that goal. I am super happy, because I look and feel great.



REGARD THE EXQUISITE MACHINE. I love how my body looks, especially my abs. I'm fitter, leaner, and more toned than I've ever been in my life. I'm happy enough that I'm planning on staying with lifestyle as long as possible. Taking breaks for special occasions will happen, but living this way has made me feel healthy, strong, and beautiful, so I want to stick with it.

WITNESS ME.
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I did an experiment this year where you write down everything good that happens to you and put it in a jar, then look at it all at the end of the year. Here's what I wrote down:

1. I debuted Mrs. Hawking at Arisia 2015.
2. I got an audience of 135 people in a difficult timeslot for Mrs. Hawking at Arisia 2015.
3. I got Adonis into the top ten percent of the 2015 BlueCat Screenwriting Contest.
4. I got to put up Mrs. Hawking a second time at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2015.
5. I got an audience of 136 people at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2015.
6. I got Adonis requested for reading by a producer I pitched to.
7. I got hired to teach at Lesley University.
8. I got hired to teach at North Shore Community College.
9. I got Adonis requested for reading by a producer a second time.
10. I got Adonis requested for reading by a producer a third time.
11. I completed 31 Plays in 31 Days for the fourth time.
12. I finished writing Base Instruments, completing the first Mrs. Hawking trilogy.
13. My face is clearer than it's been in years.
14. I got into the best and most beautiful shape of my life.
15. I helped launch Game Wrap Magazine and contributed content to it.
16. I got Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina accepted for performance at Arisia 2016.
17. Most of the Mrs. Hawking cast wanted to come back for the Arisia 2016 production.
18. Some friends stepped up with interest to be in Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina.
19. I made more money this year than I ever have in the past with my new jobs.
20. A producer liked my Adonis script and recommended it to a company that might want to make it.
21. I got a good evaluation of my teaching for my first semester at Lesley.
22. Bernie successfully defended his thesis and earned his doctorate.
23. I got Adonis requested for reading by a producer for a fourth time.

I thought this would be a good exercise for me as a way to focus on gratitude and positivity. And there's some real successes in this. This was a good year for me. I need to focus on how far I've come, because it will help me believe in myself for how far I need to go.
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Got my Adonis screenplay requested for reading by another company!

Recently I delivered my Adonis pitch in another screenplay pitching session, and they asked for it! Very pleased with that, because the response from the executive was so positive. Out of three verbal pitch sessions, I have gotten three requests to read, which is a damn good track record and confirmation of the fact that I have a good story, a good pitch for it, and I am doing a good job of pitching.

This one I know won't go anywhere. The executive said she thought it sounded great but it wasn't the sort of thing her company was looking for right then. Still, she wanted to read it. That's still good for me, because the more people in the business get eyes on it, the better. I have a feeling that if I make it, it won't be because this script sells-- it will be because it impresses people, and they'll want something else from me which I'll have an easier time getting made. And then, when I have a little cache, then I can possibly push a big gun like Adonis.

But this executive, like others before her, asked me a question that's been kind of on my nerves in recent years-- "Have you considered making this a book?" I've gotten that on not only on this project, but also Mrs. Hawking. Lots of people think I should turn both or either of these properties into a novel rather than the dramatic form I've originally conceived of them in.

I've some idea of the reasons people tend to think this. Some don't or "can't" read scripts and would rather read books (never mind the fact that I don't understand why it would be harder to read something that's a third as dense). Some people think it would be easier to get it out their in published form than in trying to get it produced. Other have apparently artistic aspirations on my behalf, and think the level of detail and world building I would be able to do in a novel form would really make the most of the stories.

The idea makes me feel grouchy. First of all, if I wanted them to be books, that's what I would have written. I want them to be films/television. But moreover, I don't even know if I could write a good book. I am trained in dramatic writing-- I am thirty thousand dollars in debt for a degree in it, in a program that separated instruction in fiction and in drama --and not trained in novel writing. I do not really write prose anymore. The last time I tried, incidentally, was that two-page banging out of the very early, very initial idea for Adonis. The process was incredibly difficult for me, and the results were pretty banal beyond the germ of the idea-- so banal and free of significance or meaning that the scene I depicted in that piece ended up getting cut out of the screenplay version. Mrs. Hawking and Adonis are my two most important properties right now. I don't want to wreck them by writing shitty novels because I don't have the skill to do it.

I'm a good enough writer that I could probably learn. But it would take time, and in that time, I wouldn't be producing anything good. I'm not sure I want to take a year or whatever off to just write crap to get over that hump. I want to be moving forward. I guess if somebody promised me, yeah, if you write these books they will take off, it would be worth the time, but there are no guarantees like that.

I don't know. I'm considering it. Maybe I should. I will give it more thought. I want a career in this badly enough that I'm not ruling it out.
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Today Bernie defended his dissertation for his doctoral thesis. He's been practicing his talk like crazy, trying to cut it down to thirty minutes, and making a Power Point presentation to provide visuals along with it. I attended it today, along with his parents, [livejournal.com profile] bronzite, and most of Bernie's lab at Brandeis. Then they kicked us all out and questioned him for a half an hour or so. I wanted to be there when he came out, but I had to go back to work. Finally he texted me with the verdict: he passed! He has completed the work to earn his doctorate in physics from Brandeis University!

He has to get some paperwork processed before he can officially call himself Doctor Gabin, and he has to do some minor edits to his thesis paper. But he need do no more to secure the degree. He's finished, after eight years of work. I'm so happy and proud of him. Now he's going to be in town for the rest of the week, so we can actually spend some time together as he decompresses and celebrates. I have a lot of my own work to do in that time, unfortunately, but at least we'll get to be together some.

Make sure you congratulate him when you see him! Sending texts are nice too.
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You don't know how much fun it was for me to get to teach about one of my favorite shows at Lesley today. Bojack was my one odd choice for material that I put on the syllabus, so it might have been a bit of a risk. Every other protagonist was either a classic or at least better known, with slightly more consensus on their cultural value. But I believe the show is brilliant with plenty to analyze, so I did it. And it was a blast.

We studied episode 1.08, "The Telescope," which I think is a great sample because it contrasts modern day Bojack, who we are following through the series, and the person he used to be before he got famous. It's great because it subtly presents us two parallel situations in his life and shows us how he reacts to each of them at that point in time, which reveals both the origin and the journey of his character.

The students were really engaged, which pleased me enormously. They usually do okay on that front, but I think it was particularly high this morning. Partially it was because we actually watched the episode in class. That meant there was nobody who "hadn't done the reading" and therefore nobody lacked context. It's also likely easier for them to connect with a thirty-minute cartoon about a horse than, say, a thousand lines of Ancient Greek poetry. I'm also a drama person, my professional focus is in how dramatic works function, so I had an even better grasp on it than usual. But the conversation was lively and interesting, and I think people actually started to connect with the ideas that I personally found so interesting and made me love the show.

Also I was observed today by another professor. It's a requirement for new Lesley teachers. I knew it would go okay, because I'm doing a pretty good job, but I was still a little nervous anyway. This is probably not the day I would have picked to be observed-- I felt a little guilty spending a third of the class showing a video, not to mention I probably would have chosen a more "proven" text to talk about. I was a bit concerned that it wouldn't be seen as sufficiently "academic." But I did a good job facilitating a cracking dialogue, and she thought the premise of my class was a good one. She even had a few helpful pieces of constructive criticism that I will use going forward.

But I really enjoyed teaching this show. I wish I could do more. Hell, I could do a whole seminar on how episode 2.11 is put together from a writing standpoint. Maybe someday I will. :-)
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I got my Adonis screenplay requested for reading by a literary management company!

I'm really excited. This is my SECOND request to read! I've been giving this script pitching thing a few tries lately, with more misses than hits. I've had no nibbles from submitting the pitch in written form, but of the three times I've arranged a Skype call with a producer or agency, twice I've gotten a request to read the script. Two of three is not a bad ratio! Clearly there is some power in people looking me in the eye and listening to my voice as I imbue it with drama and tension in the recitation. I'd been submitting in written form because it was easier and lower stress, but I think this is a pretty good indication that the same material is much more powerful when I deliver it in person.

The first time it was requested, a few months later I heard that the producer wanted to be put in email contact with me. That's awesome, though I haven't heard anything from the guy since then. I've been wondering if there's an appropriate way to poke him, though I've been struggling with how to phrase it so it doesn't sound weird or nagging. What's the right way to say, "So, was there anything you wanted to say to me?" I wonder if maybe I could use this. "So, just an update, the script's gotten interest from another quarter!" Is there a polite way to say that without an underlying implication of threat? ;-)

Anyway, here's another nibble. Again I don't know what it could mean-- they may throw it down on the table as soon as they get to page five! But I convinced someone else to read it. And it's a good damn script. I'm really pleased and proud. Cross your fingers something-- I don't know what! --comes of this.
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Generally I prefer not to talk about stuff that I'm not sure what's going to happen with, even if it looks like it's going to be good. I hate to run my mouth about something that ends up not being what I thought it would be, and then I have to tell everybody, actually, no, I spoke too soon.

But something cool happened and even though I don't know what's going to come of it, it's still an achievement on its own. You may remember that I got the script for Adonis requested for reading by a producer I pitched it to last month. I was told to wait anywhere from two to three months to hear anything back. But I got a response earlier this week. I was told by the people who facilitated the pitch session that the producer requested to be put into email contact with me. I said yes please, and now he has my address and I have his.

This is a very good thing. 😊 There is no way he'd have asked for the way to contact with me if he didn't want anything further from me. I have no idea what it is he wants, of course, and there's definitely better-case scenarios than others. It might be like, "I can't do anything with this script, but I just wanted to say good job." It might be like, "What else have you written?" which I would like, or "I'll give you a thousand bucks for it," which I would like less. I think the best thing I might hear realistically is that he wants to hire me for something. That would be awesome. Of course, the dream scenario is, "I showed the script to my very good friend Chris Evans. He wants to make it, he wants to star in it, and he wants to meet you. Can he take you to dinner this Friday?" But I'm trying to manage my expectations, of course. 😉

I haven't heard from the guy yet. It's only been a few days, but I'm kinda anxious about it. I hope he doesn't, like, forget or something. I'm trying to be patient. After we got the email introducing us to each other, I sent a two line message to him saying, "Hello! Great to hear from you." I don't want to nag or bug, so I think I need to leave it at that. But I really really want to find out what he wants.

Cross your fingers for me, loves.
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Today I had some good news! I interviewed for a position to teach an English class at Lesley University, and they offered me the job! I will be teaching freshman composition this coming fall!

I applied for it a while back, and got two rounds of emails turning me down before I got another that asked if I was still interested. I said yes, and got called in. I was nervous about my experience level, because I've never led my own class before; only guest lectured in other's people's classes. They asked for a syllabus from a class I'd taught, which for the aforementioned reason I didn't have. But I decided to design a sample one to show that I could, and to emphasize that I did have some classroom experience as well as the tutoring that I do every day. So, armed with that and some good advice from my awesome boss Bill, I went in and did my best. I got hired on the spot!

I'm really pleased. FOr some reason I don't "apply well" to things, and have had a very bad track record of getting my job applications noticed. While I'm much better in the interview, I rarely get to the interview stage, and when I got this one, I really didn't want to blow it. I'm proud of myself for doing well. Also it's a real step forward for me professionally. I think I've been held back by not having a lot of non-creative respectable job positions on my resume, and this definitely improves it.

I need to fill out my paperwork and choose a theme in the next two weeks. I have to get one that. But today I'm just proud of myself for FINALLY making this forward step.

REQUESTED

Jun. 13th, 2015 12:36 am
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As I mentioned, I wanted to step away from my pitch for Adonis for a little while, but then I wanted to give it again. I was having trouble interpreting the feedback I got the first time around, so I wanted to give it again, exactly as I did before, just to get another data point. If I got the same feedback, that might mean it was worth trying to amend my pitch to meet it. If I got different feedback, it might provide new perspective.

So I did. I signed up for a session that was seeking "big franchiseable blockblusters." The only amendment I made was to add in actor ideas, as that was requested; I mentioned my boy Chris's name without too much squealing, and for Diana I said Jessica Chastain, as Ben Federlin suggested. Otherwise I gave it exactly as I did before. Again I heard, "Very good pitch," and the only question I was asked was the size of the budget-- very expensive, I admitted, which would I would hope be offset by the franchise potential.

I did this on Wednesday. Today I got my response back. But it wasn't a "feedback sheet." It was a request. He requested to see the script.

I am ecstatic. I made my five-minute pitch interesting enough that he wants to see the script. I sent it along today, newly edited for version 7. And it's a good script. The best thing I've ever written. It already got into the top ten percent of a major screenwriting contest; it's quality has respectable outside confirmation. It should engage and impress when read.

I know it is unlikely that anything further will come of this. I seriously, seriously doubt this is going to lead to him buying the script, much less producing it. But it could lead to other opportunities, which would be amazing for me. And even if nothing else happens, I GOT HIM TO ASK FOR THE SCRIPT. On my second try. If nothing else, I know I can pitch. I am really proud of myself.
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I've been a little off the grid recently. You'd think that with the free time I had in my last week before my work started up again, I'd be pretty accessible, or at least updating my journal every day. But I've been completely consumed with taking on a challenge I'd never faced before, but need to take on if I'm to progress in my chosen work.

I got an opportunity to pitch a script to a movie studio this weekend, which is a great step for me. I really need to be getting my work out there, so this is a skill I need to cultivate, and jump on these opportunities when they arise. So I decided I was going to put together the strongest pitch I could for my subversive feminism gladiator movie, Adonis.

I've never pitched before, however. I didn't even know that much about it. And Adonis is not exactly the easiest movie to sell. Y'know, with the gender role flips and the female-on-male sexual assault and the hundred and fifty million dollar price tag. But it's what I'm feeling most passionate about is Adonis, and I want to get it out there eventually, so I wanted to try channeling that passion into a pitch.

I did a ton of research, figuring out what goes into a good pitch. I consulted with my old teacher, the awesome Mark Edwards, and his enormous media knowledge. I learned that generally, the best pitches describe the broad, important arc of the story, including the specific genre, the logline, and recent films that it can be compared to in some signficant way. It should not include "marketing speak" or informing the executive how they should regard or feel about it -- just the story told in the most efficient, engaging way possible. They want you to say it, not read it, so you need to be memorized, but not so that you sound like you're just reciting.

So Bernie and I wrote a pitch. Not only is it challenging to boil down what (I think is) a fairly complicated story, we also wanted to present our challenging subject matter in a way that would be less scary to mainstream audiences and seem to have more universal appeal. We wanted to represent it in a way that was still honest, but more palatable and accessible. That was tough, but we finally finished a version that we felt captured it. Then we chopped it down until it was no longer than five minutes to say. And I practiced. I practiced and I practiced and I practiced. I walked around my neighborhood reciting it. I gave it to remembers of Bernie's family over Skype. I invited some lovely friends over for dinner to listen to me give it. They gave me some really useful feedback, helping me refine my language and anticipate the questions I might get after I gave it. Thanks, guys! You were so helpful.

I was very afraid my nerves would make me forget what I was going to say. There wasn't a lot of reason to be nervous-- it's not like I'm pinning all my hopes on my very first time out, and even if I do super badly, it's not like I'll always be talking to the same person who got that one negative impression of me --but I was.

It was to happen over Skype. I dressed up, even though they'd probably only see me from the sternum up, and did some very natural-looking makeup to conceal my acne and make me look better on camera. Presentation is important, however, and I'm not too big to try to make use of "pretty people get what they want." And I vibrated with nerves until they called.

But you know what? The minute we got going, it all snapped into place. I gave the best, smoothest, most enthusiastic version of the pitch that I've given yet. I knocked it out of the park. And the executive responded to it! He listened to my pitch with engagement, making listening noises at the right points. His comments included, "Gladiator happens to be one of my favorite movies," when I mentioned the comparison (along with Hunger Games and Mad Max: Fury Road). He asked me three questions, none of which were bad. They were basically "Do you think there's franchise potential?"-- Yes! -- "Is this attached to any particular moment in real Roman history?" -- Nope, using the Roman trappings with its own history! -- and "Ever consider writing this as a book?" He acknowledged that's not exactly a small endeavor, but with the industry's tendency toward existing IPs, that helps films get made. He concluded by saying, to my pleasure, "Great pitch, rich characters, rich world. I'll have to think more about this."

I know that it's unlikely that anything big for me will come of this. But even if nothing else happens, I think this was a really positive step for me. I gave a great pitch. I got a compliment on it from a real film executive. This is a persistence game, and encouragement like that keeps me going. I got a good experience at a skill I need to cultivate my first time out.

I do hope he'll ask to read the script. That would be a real victory, even if nothing else happens. Probably the most realistic best case scenario I can hope for is he'll ask to read the script, like it even if he knows he can't buy or make it, and want to know what else I've written. Or offer me a job of some kind. That would be cool.

But I'm super proud of myself. I did a new, difficult thing that I need for the future. I made a career step forward. And I did a good job.

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