Friday, November 12, 2010

Life's a Pitch...

That's the problem with blogging - at least with me - when there's loads going on and, therefore, loads to blog about, is when I don't have time to do it.

Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I've actually had some paid design work going on which has, admittedly, been taking up most of my time and concentration. But the last few weeks have also been somewhat eventful in my life as a trying-to-be-professional-writer. And, as so often is the case, with the good came the bad.

The 'bad' (let's get out the way first, shall we?) was that, heart-break of heart-breaks, the novel Burning Matches was rejected by the previously-eluded-to literary agent. To say that I had my hopes very much pinned to this possibility is an understatement and so I was...well, gutted .
Yes I know rejection is a part of any creative process blah blah blah but hey, it still hurts when it happens.

And now I'm going to stop talking about it now before I get depressed all over again.

And now the 'good' ...I finally gave myself a 'this-problem-isn't-going-to-fix-itself' talking-to and went and learned how to pitch. Pitching was the one area of my life as a writer in which I had little confidence. Don't get me wrong, I really have no issue with speaking in public. And, of course, I like to think that I know my projects fairly intimately at this stage....but bringing these two together to essentially be able to sell my writing (and essentially myself) to producers / commissioners / agents etc was, to be honest, evading me.

Until I met Sibylle Kurz. With over 20 years experience of being a pitcher, a 'pitchee' and now a tutor, she pretty much knows all the skills, tricks, psychology and pitfalls of standing up in front of a room full of frowning people and convincing them to believe in you, or at least, invest in you.

The 2-day course was very interactive - I had to stand up and pitch to the rest of the group my project (I went for my TV drama Square One). A somewhat terrifying experience, but the reaction I got from Sibylle and from the others was excellent. This, of course, led me to believe that my pitch was 'perfect', which needless to say, in my one-to-one with Sibylle afterwards, I found that it wasn't. But thankfully, she was able to guide me as to where I went wrong and what to do to fix it. Most importantly, I gained the confidence to now be able to face those frowning faces.

Good evening Dragons....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sometimes it's okay to meet your hero.

Okay, I admit, I didn't realise that Tony Jordan was my hero before I attended his seminar at the London Screenwriters' Festival at the weekend, but I know now. Apart from creating one of favourite shows 'Hustle' (no Paddy, Hustle is not 'shit') as well as 'Life on Mars', he is completely pragmatic, funny, down-to-earth and hardworking. And, crucially, he realises how hard it is for new writers to break into the industry and acts on this realisation, running The Red Planet Prize for new writers through his production company Red Planet Productions.

Anyway, enough gushing. As I said, I was at the LSF at the weekend and it was fabulous (okay, maybe a bit more gushing). A brilliantly-organised and -executed three-day event in the picturesque setting of Regent's Park (Regent's College to be precise). As with all good conferences, there were so many events I wanted to attend that I had to make some sacrifices. But the seminars I did get to were excellent, loads of advice, insight into the various sides of the film and TV industries and, most importantly, encouragement to a) keep writing and b) be bold when it comes to trying to get work produced .

One excellent feature of the festival was the 'Scriptchat' events, at which the speakers at the seminars were available for a 'round-table' casual chat, which were nearly as informative as the seminars themselves.

I did have one scare when, attending the 'Getting an Agent and beyond' event, Katie Williams from Julian Friedmann's agency announced that they would really only consider representing writers located in the UK. Oh no! But, thankfully, at the 'scriptchat' later on, she did concede that this was for purely practical reasons (attending meetings at short notice etc.) and that Irish writers would definitely be considered. Phew!

Speaking of Irish writers, it was disappointing to see the lack of attendance from here (I only met one other Irish person all weekend and you know how we attract each other). Such an event is a crucial opportunity to meet fellow writers and industry professional and to do what all writers love to about writing! So many doors are slamming shut for us these days (depletion of funding etc.) that we need to take advantage of evvvvery opportunity that comes up.

Right, I'll get off my soapbox now. Damn, I should have put a handrail on this thing.