Film Scouts Diaries

1995 Independent Feature Film Market Diaries
An Insider's View, Part III

by Matthew Mandell

September 19, 1995

Today was pitch day. The day I got down to stopping anyone I could who'd listen. It's just a mental adjustment, but one that takes a bit out of you. Everyone knows about the pitch; it's that 30 seconds or less you have to say what you got and hope for the best. You have to say it walking, jogging, in cubby holes, on escalators, in elevators and as I said yesterday in the bathroom. Any and every opportunity is a time to pitch.

The IFP folks, in orientations, say to practice at home before you come, but who really does that. Wing it I say and see how it goes. So my first couple of times sounded flat, but they worked. The buyers said "sure send me the script," lord knows they'll never go over to the script library and read it. My third and fourth were better and also got requests for the script. I was indestructible. Then the lull came and buyers weren't buying, but the pitch improved. By the end of the morning I had a considerable number of business cards to send scripts to or at least follow-up on. So how was my pitch? Could always be better.

The IFP set up a scriptwriters brunch at Starbucks. Ah a chance to corner more buyers for the pitch. But only Sundance and the Rotterdam Cinemart were there by design. At least that was the official line. In the past the IFP arraigned for a bunch of buyers to share lunch and be available to the scriptwriters, a great opportunity. The unofficial line was that no buyers were interested. Let me tell you screenwriters are low persons on the totem pole. The funny thing is that we are the ones who come up with stories in the first place.

One scary moment occurred today when a car carrying two festival attendees seemed to have been shot at. There was a loud bang and suddenly there was a hole in one of the back windows. Everyone went running. It took a moment or two for things to settle down. What happened was that a garbage truck had run over a broken curb and had a blow out which propelled a rock through the window. New York, you gotta love it.

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