The Hollywood Pitch Festival: Where Crazy Screenwriting Dreams Meet Bored Development Execs

Given that being locked in a room with 200 desperate, aspiring writers willing to pay $400 a head to have a representative of Legitimate Hollywood politely nod through their pitches for "Transformers meets Harry Potter, but where the transforming wizards are all animated woodland creatures" sounds like a genital-punishing exercise outside of the pain threshold of even the most masochistic, CBT-loving of producers and agents, one might wonder if participating in events like the recent Fade In Hollywood Pitch Festival is worth the unlikely reward of hearing a new voice among the crazy-idea-spewing din. As it turns out, there's at least one attractive benefit for the reps grudgingly agreeing to pitchfest duty, as the NY Times reports:

"I feel like I'm on 'American Idol,' and I'm crushing people's dreams," said a talent agent from Endeavor after having swiftly nixed six hicks' pix. Citing her company's policy, she insisted on anonymity.

To be fair, for every couple of hundred writers who've been on the receiving end of an essence-leeching, too-toothy souljob, there is a success story or two:

Garth Meyer, an advertising copywriter shopping a modern-day Christmas fable, was turned down early in the day, reworked his pitch, then drew a nibble from Paramount before sitting down opposite a producer he had met at a pitchfest in February. She was interested then, he said, but left her company soon after hearing his pitch, and he had been unable to find her to follow up.

"Anyhow, it's back on," Mr. Meyer said. The woman and her new partner asked for his script and gave him contact information for their company. "She said something about thinking she could sell it and get it made by this Christmas," he added. "That's Hollywood."

Hopefully, this lucky scribe won't buy too deeply into the over-promising of an executive who may have as many as five new gigs by the projected Christmas start of production on his screenplay and do something rash like quit his day job or sell one of his children to fund a speculative stint in development of his surefire project; at the end of the day, the advertising copywriter probably realizes that he's got a statisically better chance at having one of his commercials bought by ABC and adapted into a sitcom than in ever seeing his recently pitched vision appear on the big screen.