Pitching In Sixty Seconds (without bunnies)

If you're attending the London Screenwriters Festival Speed Pitching and you're not flailing in panic, it's either because you have nerves of steel or are, in fact, an alien robot. Condensing your beloved work of art into one or two pithy sentences and then selling it in five minutes sounds impossible and terrifying (moreso because, until about thirty seconds ago, I thought it was ten minutes. ARGH!). Thankfully, people have done this before and SURVIVED! Some have even SOLD THINGS! The mind boggles. How does one conquer this hill of terror? I asked this same question before the London Comedy Writers Festival earlier this year, and Phill Barron and Laurence Timms provided excellent tips here (also in PDF). But what about Speed Pitching specifically? How does one not die in a five minute conversation with A Really Important Person? Jared Kelly's blog about Speed Pitching at LSWF is a Survival Handbook - and the most important (and scary) thing I gleaned from it is this:...
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20 Things From LCWF

Well, I'm back from the London Comedy Writers Festival, which was my first excursion as a writer. And I loved every second of it! Here are my festival highlights: The Twenty Best Pieces of Advice from the London Comedy Writers Festival 1) Find a collection of people with social problems and write comedy: THE GANG (Griff Rhys Jones) 2) Character notes should come through in the script, not an outline. If it isn't in the script, it isn't there. (David Tyler) 3) When broadcasters ask for a particular thing, it may be the perfect time to send in something completely different. (Paul Minett) 4) You must print a hard copy. You must have a readthrough. (Paul Minett) 5) When taking advice: Does it make it better or does it make it different? 6) Don't write down jokes while walking. Don't keep a notebook by your bed. If you can't remember it, it wasn't funny. (Brian Leveson) 7) Put as much detail as possible in a physical gag - assume...
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LCWF packing

It's a last-minute packing job for the London Comedy Writers Festival! If you're at a loss this weekend, I believe there are a handful of tickets still on sale! So, what's in my bag? - BUSINESS CARDS! Two full boxes of funky designs ready for eager hands to steal them away. - One pagers. I have two - one for a series and one for a feature - ready to dish out to those whose interest is piqued by my project, as per the recommendation of Laurence Timms. May have a slightly unusual presentation... - Delegate Handbook, printed hard copy and saved to my Dropbox for phone access - Two notebooks and a stash of pens, just as Oli Lewington suggests. - Glasses! I need to see the presenters and read back my notes. And leave without a blinding headache. - Some clothes and stuff. Might be an idea. - Laptop! Unfortunately, I haven't scraped together the time or the cash to buy a new netbook, so the...
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Pitching with Brits

Ahead of the LCWF, I asked Twitter for advice about pitching. Firstly, Lucy Vee has a post with 5 Pitching Tips. Then, we have advice from the wondiferous Phill Barron: Keep a check on your breathing; if it's too fast you're panicking. Force yourself to breathe slower and you'll calm down. Same goes for posture, if you're tense, your shoulders rise. Keep them low and relaxed - it'll help you relax. Eye contact, but not too much. Smile, but not too much. Rehearse, but leave enough space for improv if the mood strikes. Start with basic info, like lead paragraph in a newspaper. Genre, who, where, what ... etc. As interesting as possible. If it's a single, cover ALL the beats. If it's a series, try to make the possibilities seem endless. Most important: believe your story's awesome, only you can tell it and they HAVE to make it Excitement generates excitement Lead character and plot should be as intertwined as possible: it's a story about someone who must...
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LCWF Countdown

Less than six days until the London Comedy Writers Festival! Who's excited? And who's terrified of meeting all these NEW PEOPLE? Fret not! Oli Lewington has a series of excellent posts about preparing for a festival found here. The posts on networking are particularly useful and nerve-calming. Do you have your business cards? Mine are from moo.com - you can still get them in time for the festival if you pick "Rush Express" delivery. Completely customisable and perfectly printed. For an example of cool things that go down at festivals, check out Lucy's notes from her talk at Southern Script Fest 2011 on Spec Script Pile clichedom, what things crop up again and again. If you're planning to attend the pitching event on the Sunday (and if not, why not??) and for networking opportunities, the latest Screenwriting UK Podcast should set you right with a special on pitching! And, finally, advice on success: Micheal Jacob on his career in comedy and Sherlock Holmes' lessons, my...
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Scriptses, precious

In preparation for the London Comedy Writers Festival, I have put a selection of my spec scripts online. Hit me up for the password by e-mail or Twitter and you may peruse here or by clicking "Scripts" at the top of the page. These quality gems of screenwriting triumph (*snort") kick some stereotypes to the curb, indulge in others for the sake of comedy (with a twist) and feature some kickass women. Which is why Lucy's blog on stereotypes and Sarah Milne's ponderings on feminism for 2011 (with a touch of yours truly) are particularly timely for me and my writing....
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Comfest Comedy

Woop! My logline entry for #comfest - the Twitter competition for the London Comedy Writers Festival - charted #9! Den of Geeks: A group of gamers are losing their geeky girl to rowers and fight to reclaim her with conventions, comics and cunning #comfest This idea? Came to me on the District Line. Recorded as an Evernote voice memo. Writing on the move, people! Congratulations to the other awesome logliners in the top 25 and the winner, Josh Merritt....
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One to one-hundred-and-ten pages

I went on an excursion to Bristol to visit a friend. From Pads, it's about ninety minutes, so I left the laptop at home and took the hard drive (for TV catch-up) and the iPhone. I do my best writing on trains. But would that hold true without keys beneath my fingers and the ability to do more than one thing at a time? Turned out pretty well. I opened up my scripts in Celtx and fiddled about with them - the major downside was not being able to copy and paste long sequences, as I overhauled my final fight scene in Steampunk Assassins. I also looked up an old draft of the script using Dropbox to see if I still had an old scene that may get reworked into the finale sequence. The other project I worked on was my entry for the Laugh A Minute competition, which is inspired by Lucy V's call for sex. Unfortunately, nobody actually has sex, but...
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Make ’em laugh

Two short, sweet screenwriting comps courtesy of the London Comedy Screenwriters Festival: British brevity your speciality? Laugh A Minute Competition - one page of comedy gold, win a festival ticket and fifty quid. Too long-winded for you? Try #comedyswf Twitfest - a comedy logline in a single Tweet. Take three rolls of the dice - and you could come away with a golden festival ticket and a stack of Script Secret CDs. And if you need tips on how to make comedy gold (and how I wish I'd had this when I was writing my Laughing Stock entry!), Lucy Vee has written a cracking (up) post on how comedy dialogue may not be all that: Comedy: It’s All In The Delivery… Of Everything!!....
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