Friday, October 3, 2014

LA at last! part one

I guess I should call this post  ''home at last'' because I'm back from LA. Anyhow, the book-to-screen festival was amazing! There were 126 authors there ranging in age from 11 to 84! I didn't get to chat with most of them but I did chat with and/or exchange business cards with about 10 to 15 of them.
    We had a meet and greet reception on Friday evening and the actual pitch-fest was all day Saturday. The first part was a lecture on pitching, which was quite interesting. The second part was practice pitching. We broke up into two groups and presented our pitch[s] to a Hollywood ''Pitch-pro''[ I made up that term] for critiquing. He seemed luke-warm to mine but, then again, nobodies pitch was perfect according to him. He said mine was not a ''high-concept''[action packed, thriller type movie] and that dramas, comedies, etc. were harder to sell. He also said that period pieces are hard to sell because they are expensive. He said all I had was an idea and that I need to describe something interesting that happens in the story to grab the reps attention. In the end, I just added that it is a character driven drama along the lines of Roots or Mandingo with a Gay twist. I must admit I was alittle demoralized after his critiques. I spent so much time preparing before the event! I read two books about pitching to Hollywood, from which I took eight pages of notes. I watched tons of YouTube videos on pitching. I read on-line articles on pitching and by the time I arrived in LA I had written five drafts of my pitch! I had also said[and am still saying] tons of positive affirmations pertaining to my pitch and the final out come as it relates to Rainbow Plantation Blues and my success at the pitch-fest. So naturally, I thought I had a pretty good pitch! In the end, all I did was add two more sentences.  Here is the pitch I actually gave to the studio/production company reps:

[logline] What if a pre-civil slaveholder is gay and in love with a male slave?
 The name of my novel is Rainbow Plantation Blues

It is South Carolina in 1850 and Jonathon Thomas is a slaveholder and Kumi is his slave. Interracial love, sex and relationships are taboo and illegal, and the word sodomy is synonymous with the word gallows! But Jonathon is in love with Kumi who is another man and, moreover, a Black man! Not wanting to shame his family or go to the gallows, he marry's a pretty Southern belle hoping he'll forget his same-sex desires, but they only intensify. Hopelessness and despair threaten to overtake him but a good friend, with a secret of his own, helps Jonathon to regain his focus and clarity and triumph in the end.[here's the part I added after the critique] Rainbow Plantation Blues is a character driven drama that addresses the Gay and Lesbian side of slavery and the antebellum South. Imagine Roots or Mandingo with a Gay twist!

A ''logline'' is a summery of your story in one or two sentences. There are three parts to a good pitch: the set-up, the conflict and the conclusion. I feel that I had them all. We two minutes to deliver our pitch! Mine ended up being about a minute long, but that was a good thing because the reps had lots of questions for me!
    The actual pitching part was wonderful! I forgot all about my demoralization, dived right in and zoomed right though it! It was over before I knew it! I pitched to about ten reps in fifteen minutes moving from table to table speed-dating style. Now, all I can do is wait. We wont know if any reps want to read our books for about another week. We'll also be sent comment cards with their comments on them soon. So, that was my experience with the 2014 Los Angeles pitch-fest. Now, I had some experinces with LA, too! I'll talk about them in part two.

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