Best of the Rest: Pitchfests

Let’s face it, pitchfests are nerve-wracking. You have five short minutes to try to impress someone who might be jaded, bored or hypercritical. And yet, every year thousands of screenwriters shell out big bucks to do just that because there’s no better way to get in an executive’s face than to, well, get in an executive’s face.

But, which event to choose? In the January/February 2011 issue of Script, Jim Cirile covered the top four pitchfests – Great American Pitchfest, Hollywood Pitch Festival, Golden Pitch Festival and Inktip Pitch Summit. As a supplement to the original article, here are a few other pitchfests, and alternatives to pitchfests, worth mentioning:

EHollywoodLive - An internet version of Fade In’s Hollywood Pitch Fest. February 18-20, May & October; $225 for 5 meetings, $375 for 10. All you need is a webcam. “Great opportunity especially for those looking to save on travel,” says 2010 attendee Patricia Krogh. “But definitely block out a lot of time since the sessions tend to run long (5-10 minutes). My appointment was like an hour or so late, but I had the afternoon blocked so it wasn’t an issue. (It was) great because you get to pick the execs ahead of time and you are assured that you will pitch to them, unlike big fests where it is kind of a gamble. This is the best when there are just four or five execs you really want to talk with. A rifle instead of a shotgun approach.” [Edited with corrections on 12/27/10]

Ken Rotcop’s PitchMart - May, $149. Former film executive turned screenwriting guru Rotcop’s semiannual event gathers 20-25 development executives and representatives at Burbank’s The Smokehouse restaurant to meet with his Screenwriters Workshop students (additional fee to attend the class). “Best pitch event I’ve ever attended,” said a writer who asked to remain anonymous. “It was an informal lunch where we got to mingle with all these executives. There were no time constraints, and it was all very friendly.” Rotcop personally vets the material to be pitched. “Sometimes he sends you back to do another draft; other times he just has minor notes — typos and things.”

Santa Fe Screenwriting Conference – May, $695. This annual event is like a mini Screenwriters Expo, with classes and seminars and also a pitch event. “I’ve gone for four years,” says writer Spencer Michlin. “A lot of the attraction is the classes, particularly the four-day master class taught by Kirk Ellis. I’ve pitched lots there. It’s the same crummy five minutes you get elsewhere, but it seems as though higher level execs are invited, and, being away in the mountains, they aren’t worried about their four o’clock across town. Also, they’re much more accessible at the parties or just hanging around the bar.”

Virtual Pitchfest - Ongoing, $50 for 5 queries, $90 for 10. Not really a pitch fest at all, but rather a query letter submission service. They guarantee a response from each company submitted to within five days — although that response may simply be “pass,” with a reason checked off such as “Nothing personal, it just didn’t grab me.” You can also pitch your project verbally. Their list includes 300-odd industry types, and they claim 27 deals and 19 clients signed as of this writing. No feedback on this one yet.

PitchQ – Actually offers the service that you think Virtual PitchFest provides — they host your own video pitch online, where it can be accessed by everyone, or only their producer/industry subscribers (you specify). The cost is $30/three months or $70/year per video, and they also offer optional pitch coaching and taping services if you need them. Subscriber Chloe Ballatore, who has one of the most-watched video pitches on the site, says she hasn’t gotten a single request or contact after a year — but she notes that it may be because her agent tells her the subject matter is deemed a bit stale (sperm donation). The website also doesn’t indicate who their producer subscribers actually are. We’ll reserve judgment at this time, but as with all things, do your due diligence.

A final comment. One person who responded to our survey complained that at many pitch fests, the “buyers” seem to be “nothing but low-level coffee fetchers.” That may be true in some cases, but what’s also true is that those are the people who actually read, who will go to the mat for you and champion new material. Junior executives need feathers in their cap and thus are far more accessible than an established producer with a full plate and a full slate. Remember, the coffee-fetchers of today are the development executives of tomorrow. Any fan is a good fan. Good luck!

10608-SWW-Web-ad-728x90-B

Get your FREE Pitchfest Checklist to increase your chances of pitching success!

get-my-free-download-blue

8 thoughts on “Best of the Rest: Pitchfests

  1. Pingback: Pitch Fests: Should You Pay to Pitch? 4 Rock Solid Rules for Pitch Fests. - Producing Unscripted

  2. Jake

    One important difference between the top 2 pitch events – Great American & Hollywood Pitch Festival – was left out of your article. I’ve attended both and found the Hollywood Pitch Festival to be the better of the two for me. It offers 200 Hollywood reps to pitch to and all day pitching both days while Great American is 2 days of classes and one day of pitching to far less companies. If I go to an event to pitch I’m not interested in hearing lectures! I also found it hard to pitch at Great American because there’s a line of people behind you talking amongst themselves making it hard to think let alone pitch whereas with Hollywood Pitch Festival you have scheduled times to talk one on one with companies without a line of folks burning your ear and staring you in the back. That’s my two cents for what its worth.

  3. Nicholas Iandolo

    Hey Everyone,

    My name is Nick Iandolo. I attended the 2009 6th Annual Great American PitchFest (GAPF6) in Burbank California. What I got out of that experience went way beyond just trying to sell a script or get repped. I have detailed every single aspect of my experience on my blog here:

    http://tinyurl.com/2uwg7n7

    Everything that you would need to know and do in order to fully maximize your experience at the PitchFest (any pitchfest, but certainly GAPF) is in my blog. From one-sheets, to mastering your pitch, to making contacts and networking, links to producers, agents, and production companies, links to resources, pictures of the event, how to prepare for it, and how to follow-up after the event, and much more are in this 7-part series. Plus, what it all meant to me and how my life has wonderfully changed because of it.

    There is also a separate introductory part from my forthcoming book ‘Cut The Crap and FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!’ that details how I found out about it and prepared to make that adventure a reality. That link is here:

    http://tinyurl.com/244bvy9

    I’ve written the GAPF6 experience like a travel article (I actually write for BeantownSocialite.com as a travel writer) for my readers’ enjoyment and benefit.

    In my book ‘Cut The Crap and WRITE THAT DAMN SCREENPLAY!’ I profess a writing strategy called, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.” Essentially, I say that once you throw down a grand or more of your own money to pay for the PitchFest and your transportation plus room and board out there, you damn well will write your butt off and prepare like hell to rock it as hard as you can. That’s because it is YOUR ONW MONEY at stake.

    You would certainly bust your hump writing like a madman for a producer who is willing to pay you, so why wouldn’t you do it for yourself? If you’re not established yet, then you need to at the very least learn the discipline of writing like a professional before you can actually become one.

    Neither my blog nor my book offers any sure fire way on how to break into Hollywood. They are all about getting a writer motivated to write. And what better way than setting a huge deadline for yourself such as June 4 & 5, 2011 for the 8th Annual Great American PitchFest and putting your money on the line?

    There are no guarantees that you’re going to score big at the PitchFest, or where you currently are in the world, or even if you move to LA. All can be a lottery ticket. But there is one thing I can guarantee you right now: you will certainly fail if you don’t even try!

    If you’ve never attended one of these events, I assure you that you will get some much more from it than you ever realized was possible. As long as you go with the right positive attitude, be open-minded, be fully prepared, keep your expectations in check, and be genuinely psyched to be there, you WILL have a great time!

    In my opinion it is totally worth doing at least once. And what you learn from it will help carry you onto the next leg of your journey as a writer.

    I’ll be out there at the GAPF8 as a both an exuberant screenwriter and a happy exhibitor on the tradeshow day (6/4/11). Feel free to write me before or after you’ve read my blog and I’ll try to offer any advice that I can on the GAPF.

    The people who run it: Signe Olynyk, Bob Schultz, and Lorene Lacey are the nicest people in the world. They will answer your questions and their purpose is to put on a great event for writers BY writers! You can’t do any better than this team.

    Hope to see you there!

    Good luck and never, never, never stop writing!!!

    Cheers,
    Nick

    The Great American PitchFest website link is here:

    http://www.pitchfest.com/index.shtml

  4. hawkgirl2006La Cracha Mance

    Thanks so much for this article. I found it both interesting and helpful. I’m an aspiring screenwriter and I had no clue, until after reading this article, on alternatives to the well known pitchfests. Although I haven’t attended a pitchfest yet, I’m sure I will once I read the January/February 2011 issue of Script!

  5. SCSFeLarry N Stouffer

    Great to have a mention from you guys about THE SCREENWRITING CONFERENCE IN SANTA FE. Although nothing compares favorably with Santa Fe, I know there are several other Santa Fe’s than ours in beautiful New Mexico, so I thought I’d add that little addendum. Also, Spencer Michlin – who commented on this piece – is a terrific screenwriter. Any producer lookin’ around for a script, contact me at SCSFe via writeon@SCSFe.com and I’ll get you connected.
    Thanks again,
    - Larry N Stouffer, Founder / Executive Director

  6. Michele

    Thanks for mentioning our eHollywoodLive.com online pitch festival where you can pitch to any agent, executive, producer via webcam. Just a few corrections though: the festivals take place February 18-20, May & October. And 5 sessions are $225 not $275.

COMMENT