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Screenwriting Expo 5
Monthly Column
November 2006

This month's column will be about my trip to Los Angeles to attend Creative Screenwriting Magazine's Screenwriting Expo 5 on October 19-22, 2006.


On Friday morning, October 20, 2006, I attended Mr. David Ayer's guest speaker session.  He is the screenwriter for the Oscar winning movie, Training Day.  This movie makes you sit up at the edge of your seat and intensely keeps you there until the very end.  This was how I felt when I watched soon after it won an Oscar.  


As an admirer of Russell Crowe's acting, I wanted to see the movie that made Denzel Washington get the Oscar that year.  It had to be pretty outstanding and Training Day, after seeing it, lived up to its recognition.


So as you can see from the picture below, I was pretty excited to be standing next to Mr. Ayer!  




After Mr. Ayer finished his session and stepped off the stage, I was first to approach him before a line starts to form.  I asked him if I may take a picture and he said, yes, and then I asked him if I may post the picture on my website and again, he said, yes, so thank you, Mr. Ayer!  I told him I'm definitely going to go see his movie.


A fan in the line asked me to take a picture of him with Mr. Ayer.  So as I was doing so, while pointing the camera at them, I said, "I'm pretending to be a director."  Mr. Ayer's serious face cracked a smile. 


Mr. Ayer showed us a trailer for his new movie, Harsh Times, opening Friday, November 10, 2006.  The movie stars Christian Bale and Eva Longoria.  Mr. Ayer said it was about friendship.  It looks like another great white-knuckle, grab-and-won't-let-you-go movie!  Go see this movie!


Mr. Ayer's executive friend, who moderated the session, mentioned that it is very uncommon in Hollywood to write, direct, and produce your own movie, as Mr. Ayer has done.  It's about as pure as it gets.  You can watch trailer here.  Click on movie poster to go to official site.




Mr. Ayer shared pointers helpful to screenwriters such as his thoughts on putting your heart on the page, revising someone else's work, at what page his script tells him when it's in trouble, and why he has moved on to directing.


Creative Screenwriting awarded him the Writer Director Crossover Award.  You can read more about my notes on his session in Screenwriting Collection when it is updated.



On Friday Afternoon, the next session I attended was with Mr. Neil Labute who attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence.  I stayed for as long as I could knowing I had to leave early to go to my first pitch.  My notes from Mr. Labute's experience will also be included in Screenwriting Collection.


I also attended the guest speaker sessions with Oliver Stone on Friday night and Tony Gilroy and William Goldman on Sunday afternoon.  Notes from these will also be included in next update of Screenwriting Collection.



Below gives a list of the executives and companies I pitched to during the expo.  


I pitched my Dramedy genre script to the following executives and companies:

  • Mr. Pete Collins, Benderspink

  • Mr. Jonathan Stopek, John Wells Productions

  • Ms. Lauren Gordon, Di Novi Pictures

  • Mr. Michael Hatch, Zucker Productions

  • Ms. Erica Lee, Thunder Road Pictures

  • Rona, Edwards Skerbelis Entertainment

  • A female executive (forgot to ask her name), Maverick Films

Reactions to my pitch included the following:

  • Go to our website and sign the Release Form.

  • I will send you the Release Form.

  • Give me your name, the script title, phrase about script to trigger memory, and contact information (wrote all on a pad and gave to them).

  • Email me log line and synopsis.

  • Email me synopsis.

I pitched my Dramedy to Ms. Lisa Zambri at Contra Films and she said that they don't do those type movies, and that they're interested in movies with male leads, so I winged it and asked her if I may pitch my semi-finalist script with a male character that would be great for someone like Keanu Reeves (or other male actor).  She answered, yes.  Mentioning Keanu Reeves got her attention.  Once again, thank you to celebrities and how they can command attention.  That is, if you find that the executive may be looking as tired as how you feel, throw in a celebrity's name to wake both of yourselves up. 


After my few Friday pitches, I quickly learned  that the 5-minute pitch I memorized was too long.  So that night I trimmed it down to about two minutes and pitched this on Saturday and it worked better.  It was a good feeling to know that I didn't have to talk as much.  There is always an exception.  When the two minutes is up and you have what seems to be an eternity of time left, I winged it again and asked if the executive had any questions to fill the time.  That lasted only a few seconds so I had to come up with more to say and found myself stringing together sentences I didn't know I had in me. 


The reason for shortening your pitch is that you must allow time for walking and finding your table as well as greeting time and giving your contact information should it be asked at the end of your pitch. 


Or, if your genre doesn't fit the company, you give yourself time to pitch another script that may fit them.  You may have one that at least will be given synopsis time.


Finally, smile, make your brief meeting together, courteous, gracious and even enjoyable.


So if you're interested in pitching, above gives you a bit of how it goes.  Find out more on Screenwriting Collection at next update.



Hats off to everyone who made the expo run as smooth as possible.  The expo staff were friendly and very helpful.  You can subscribe to Creative Screenwriting Magazine here.  If you have a chance to attend an expo, go!  Live life, have fun, and learn something new!



VMViggo Mortensen's movie, El Capitan Alatriste, opens on December 2006 in the U.S.


Go to Perceval Press home page to read articles.  









RCRussell Crowe's movie, A Good Year, opens November 10, 2006.  Watched trailer on this movie from its official site and it looks like another great movie!  Challenges the lighter side of Russell's acting.




Russell Crowe is scheduled to appear as guest on Tonight Show With Jay Leno on Friday, November 3, 2006.




Go Vote November 7th!




Yosemite Sam forever hunting

that silly rabbit.


Charlie Brown kicking

air football.


Wile E. Coyote trapping 

Road Runner dust.


At least these 

cartoons of wisdom


know when to say,

The End.



© Marina Rundell, November 2006




Nothing's perfect

but the friendship of

Gates and Buffett

is close enough.



© Marina Rundell, November 2006








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