Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Webshow: Are Pitchfests Worth Doing?

The fall season means that many of your favorite shows finally return the airwaves, and the Bitter Script Reader is no exception!  Yes, as many of you have been asking for, the puppet is back!

This week, we address a topic I've been asked about via Twitter and emails - are pitchfests a good idea? 


  1. That kind of money translates into several months of Inktip or Blacklist. The only benefit to a pitchfest that I can see is if you are a natural born, charismatic salesperson.

  2. Yeah, I think I'd rather use half of that $250 and get a month hosting on the BL with 2 paid reviews.

  3. Name one popular movie that originated from a pitchfest. I've never heard of one.

    I always think of pitchfests as a Hollywood fantasy camp. If you're not from around here and are attending to have fun and talk to people three years out of film school about films, great. If anything else is on your mind, you're wasting your time.

  4. I always kind of figured that Pitch Fest conferences were scams. Any time you have a small industry with high competition, you're going to have people who decide to profit off of that demand by creating the illusion of opportunity.

    Now, if a film festival has a pitch contest, that's a different matter. Pitch contests are still horrific affairs (yes, you're going to get up in front of a microphone and pitch within a tight time limit to a big crowd of strangers), but it's good practice because you get a chance to hear professionals tell you, "Hey, here's what you did wrong/right in your pitch."

    Honestly, though, if you really want practice pitching, it might just be easier to go do a couple of open mic nights.

    1. "Any time you have a small industry with high competition, you're going to have people who decide to profit off of that demand by creating the illusion of opportunity."

      Be careful... You'll get blacklisted for saying stuff like that.

  5. It's a joke. All screenplays must be like all other screenplays or else they are judged to be "bad," even when they're good. The standard formula has become so ingrained that total uniformity is the only (and inevitable) outcome.

    The key is to obtain copies of recently produced scripts and copy them. All you have to do is change the names -- but not too much, that will only frighten and anger the readers.

    Just ensure it is like every other script beloved of the hack wannabe-screenwriter teenage readers and you'll see your name up there as shit explodes and guys in tights battle robots and vampires and zombies.

  6. Wow. Lots of negativity in the comments section. That's usually my deal.

    I'm going to agree with the puppet. The reason that these pitchfests seem like scams is that most people come with the same scripts they're striking out querrying with as well. These events might be packed with assistants and low level executives, but guess what. If you're querrying without representation (and lots of times even with it), these are the people who are going to be reading your script first anyway.

    The only way to benefit from one of these events is to have a pitch that is essentially perfect. Without a manager or agent vouching for you. Without any credits to your name. It's an uphill battle. You can't give them any reason to say "No" because that's all they're looking for.

    These people are trying to make a name for themselves just as much as we are. They know how fickle their bosses are. They're only going to stick their names out for something they think can sell.

  7. I went to several pitchfests for years as a company executive, and I had to stop because it was so frustrating... for both parties involved. It's frustrating for the company because, as Bitter said, the number of good scripts that come out of this activity is painfully small. And it must be discouraging to even the newest and most outside-the-industry writer to pitch a dozen or more people and get absolutely no positive response whatsoever.

    If people want to spend their money on a pitchfest, that's their prerogative... but I can't help but think that money would be better spent networking in other ways.