A report on my Pitchfest experience in New York City this past weekend

This past weekend I attended a pitchfest for authors of self-published POD books published by Author Solutions in Bloomington IN. The event was held in the gigantic Marquis Marriott hotel on Broadway at 46th St near Times Square in Manhattan in NYC.  Ironically HRC (Human Rights Campaign) was holding a formal event in the same hotel a few ballroom levels below.

The final pitch is like a 'speed dating' event where the participant rotates to a number of tables (seven) and makes a two-minute pitch (under bell) for filming their book.

There are practice sessions before.  The whole event started late Friday afternoon, with a break for the night (clubbing was discouraged) and an early start at breakfast Saturday morning.  The pitch session ran for four hours Saturday afternoon.  You have a card and number, and waiting for your exact time to come up is like waiting for surgery.

Media companies now have a need for more content for streamed films and shows and even for some novel podcast formats.  Sometimes books are introduced as podcasts online first.

Participants were encouraged to tell the best story they could imagine from their books when non-fiction.  They were not presumed to know screenwriting conventions in detail.

Book adaptations typically go through a staged process with an “option” (sort of like for a baseball player), a 'greenlight', and then finally a formal budget and shooting plans. In practice finding suitable actors is often more difficult than the public typically realized. (Honestly, who would play an 18-year-old version of me? Timothee Chalamet, after being king of Dune already and being initiated by a gom jabbar? It’s awfully easy to imagine Max Reisinger (a very popular 19-year-old YouTuber) in the movies (but he has made his own short films all over the world, even in former Soviet republics, a bit dangerous now). I would suspect that the "Greenlight" phase (remember the Miramax "Project Greenlight" contests in the early 2000's?) will require more travel and detailed research by me on certain factual historical matters and other parties who were involved with past incidents. I am prepared for that.

For many non-fiction works, documentary may be more practical.  That certainly makes sense for me.  But I did pitch an acted treatment (7 pitches, starting at 3:45 PM; I did not stumble or freeze).

A couple reactions were interesting.  The second station suggested that the plot for a first-person story should be pitched in the third person (with pronouns) so for the rest of the pitches I did that. One station (as did the coach before the pitches) picked up the idea that the “protagonist’ (an mandatory idea since ‘TENET”) seems to change from my parents (in the sonata-form-like first act) to me (in the fanned-out last act which is rather like closing a symphony with a theme and variations, and maybe a brief triumphant fugue for the ending).  (Rather like the early Dohnanyi symphony reviewed here April 17.  Seriously, Beethoven’s Op. 111 sonata has that kind of format, which seems to dilute the ending by drawing it out, which leads to the saying, 'an Op. 111 kind of day'.  Well, that could apply to Prokofiev too.)

We were not told the companies the reps came from.  But they seemed quite familiar with my content, maybe from having reviewed it online before (even my own blogs).  And they seemed to realize I was familiar with screenwriting concepts, like story circles and protagonist-antagonist.

Generally, the attendees were represented toward being older adults.  They were diverse.  Some of the other topics I heard people had written about included artificial consciousness and self-awareness., forgiveness of those who cause harm, unusual personal relationships, child development, and generally international history (especially some concerns with communism specifically). There is also some fantasy and probably animation.  Red State legislation (especially Florida) seemed to have some attention.

I will soon be discussing how I plan to remove remaining extraneous material from the doaskdotell site and make it more business friendly.  There is an issue with the https (the translation of a CSR) which I have to get resolved before financial transactions (like book sales) can happen on the site.

In my new environment, I will soon bring over some material explaining the various treatments possible from the DADT books (at least four, and the remaining two that I have not written scripts for come closer to Harmon story circle conventions than the first two, and would be more suitable for the Black List submission).

(Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2022, by John W. Boushka)