Monday, 15 September 2014

TINSELTOWN TIDBITS

I just got back after a week in Los Angeles and I'm exhausted! Strange thing is, I'm a bit relieved at the cooler weather back home. A week of intensive driving on crazy streets and freeways in 30+ weather is enough to drain you.
I spent the first three days at the Story Expo conference - an event for writers of fiction as well as screenwriters. I attended many amazing workshops all about the nature and structure of STORY, by legendary teachers in the business such as John Truby, Joe Eszterhas, Steve Kaplan, Jen Grisanti and many others.

The colourful Joe Eszterhas

The conference also included a PITCHFEST. This was my first experience pitching project ideas to a variety of top production companies. I was pretty nervous when I saw the lineup. Here's a sampling: Endgame Entertainment (Lords of War, Looper, Hotel Rwanda), The Gotham Group (The Maze Runner), Oddlot Pictures (Ender's Game, The Way, Way Back, Drive), Entertainment One (too many to list, check the link, Anonymous Content (True Detective, Winter's Bone). 
So I was quaking in my boots as I clutched my pitch documents and rehearsed my "slick and convincing" pitch. This is how it goes. 

You have just over 5 minutes to pitch and the remaining 4 minutes to get a response. The roster is called for each time slot and you line up and walk into the pitch room which is set with tables, each labelled with the production company's flag. You madly search for your company and find a kid - barely out of college and heavily into texting or checking messages. It's your job to remove the bored look from their face and blow them away with your incredible idea! Easier said than done! By the tenth pitch I was pretty comfortable with the process. Some people pitched to 25 companies in a day. It was exhausting! I'm happy to report that I did manage to get some enthusiastic responses to my ideas and all but one company requested the pitch documents for further consideration. The next step is WAITING FOR A FURTHER RESPONSE!!!
Whether anything will come of it, I can't say, but it was a great experience. I learned a lot and met some other terrific writers.
After this three day marathon, I managed to escape the hotel and do some fun stuff. If you're planning to visit Los Angeles, here are some recommendations of places to stay and things to do:
HOTELS:
We stayed at The Sportsmen's Lodge http://www.sportsmenslodge.com in Studio City, an incredible remodelled retro hotel with gorgeous pool and comfy rooms.
ACTIVITIES:
I can highly recommend the Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour. You get an energetic tour around a working studio that produces terrific shows like The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little Liars, Ellen, Two and a Half Men, Friends and movies like Batman and Casablanca. CELEBRITY SIGHTING - JOHNNY GALECKI - BIG BANG THEORY.

Also on the recommended list - a concert at The Hollywood Bowl. After a gruelling two hour car ride through rush hour traffic, we took in the LA Philharmonic playing Holst's The Planets Suite. Incredible atmosphere, great music under a full moon shining through the tall trees.

OTHER CELEB SIGHTINGS:
Driving down Ventura Boulevard, we stumbled upon the launch of a new dance studio. After subtly crashing our way in, we found  many of this season's cast of Dancing With the Stars as well as my daughter's favourite actress from Pretty Little Liars. After some complimentary wine and snacks and a bit of schmoozing, we ended the evening at In-N- Out Burger.

We also spotted the wonderful Robert Duvall in blue baseball cap at Century City Shopping centre as he made his way to his car.
RECOMMENDED RESTAURANT:
Take in the ocean breeze and the busy Santa Monica seafront at Seasons52 Bar and Grill or check out the pretty Bar Verde on the second floor of Nordstrom's at The Grove shopping centre.
All in all - a great break, but now it's time to get back to work and finishing the first draft of A Proper Lady.
Until the next time!!