10 Questions Ahead Of LondonSWF

v2by Lucy V

Every year, Team LSF gets a deluge of questions via social media about the event, so I thought I’d do a round up … Enjoy!

1) I’m scared. Will you hold my hand?
No. Pull yourself together. This networking stuff is fun! You’ll meet some great people and probably some weird ones as well. And maybe you’ll embarrass yourself somehow. But hell, it’s all material, so here’s hoping eh?

2) Can I pitch unfinished work?
Depends on whom you’re pitching it to. Some Execs, agents, filmmakers only consider finished material; others are happy to hear ideas and give feedback. The best thing to do is ASK. Also: never, ever lie about the status of your work and then race home and finish it. These guys READ SCREENPLAYS ALL THE TIME: they can tell!

3) Can I meet you?
Sure. But you’ll have to form a queue and pay £250 ‘cos I’m easily as popular as Sly Stallone. Seriously, email me a couple of days before the festival and/or look out for my tweets on where I am via the #LondonSWF hashtag during the event. I’m the small hippy type with the impossibly loud voice. You can’t miss me.

4) I don’t have anything finished. I guess the pitchfest’s not for me?
Au contraire. In the years I’ve been doing LSF (oooh matron), I’ve seen several enterprising delegates do the rounds of the pitchfest, sharing ideas and/or asking industry people what genres, storylines, characters etc they want to see more of … And then they return the following year with a spanking, polished screenplay with those things in! Like all things, LSF is what you make it. Grab those opportunities with both hands.

5) I haven’t read your book yet. You won’t kill me, right?
No, of course not. Just make sure you buy one and we’ll say no more about it *shark-like grin*.

6) You always say you’re interested in hearing about microbudget genre features, so can you give my one pager to people at LSF?
Nope. Do it yourself. That’s what the event’s for. Oh, you’re not going? Bad luck. But I’m not completely heartless, so here’s how to get your work solicited and how to query via email.

7) Do I have to book sessions in advance?
Most of the panel talks, seminars, workshops are “first come, first served”. There are exceptions like the Script Labs, the Euroscript surgery, Meet The Experts etc. Check the website if you’re in any doubt.

8) My script features a female protagonist. Will this mean no one at LondonSWF will be interested in it?
Who knows. Last year’s LondonSWF, **everyone** was talking about true stories and female protagonists. Maybe it’ll be something similar this year, or perhaps it will be focused on something completely different. There’s no way of knowing in advance. What I CAN tell you: everyone wants a great story, with great characters. That’s non-negotiable.

Just make sure you can bring something NEW to the table. Every single time I’ve been involved in the pitchfest, I’ve been pitched stories that are *too like* another one that’s already been produced. Work out what your project’s USP is though and you will blow your pitchee away. Honest guvs!

9) How many projects should I take with me and should they all be the same genre/ type?
Dealing first with numbers of projects, however many you can get away with! But depends what you mean by “take with me”? If you mean, knowing ALL your loglines off by heart and perhaps 10-20 hard copies of one pagers *if* people ask for them? Great, go for it. If you mean printing out and taking screenplays or USBs to push into unsuspecting people’s hands? DON’T!!!

Regarding genre/type, maddeningly this can depend on whom you’re pitching to again. Some agents for example like writers who appear versatile and not a “one trick pony”. Others like theirs to specialise so they can sell them specifically *as* a Horror writer, a writer about issues, TV, features, etc.

Some filmy types can be the same. Myself, I am interested solely in the microbudget features at the moment. Thriller is my favourite, but I will also look at Horror and Comedy. I will not look at drama projects from a production angle, but I WILL look at true stories, unusual biopics (not of the uber-famous or the still-living) and non-stereotypical family, teen, gay, racial and/or working class stories to assess writers of interest.

In short: don’t pitch people stuff OUTSIDE their remit, whatever that is. There is no point. You cannot suddenly change someone’s mind or entire job, even if your pitch *is* amazing. I don’t do science fiction, or TV. Yet if I had a quid for every time someone has said to me, “But my Sci Fi/TV Project is fantastic, you’ll love it!!” I’d never have to work again.

So if you don’t know what someone’s remit is? ASK. Sorted.

10) I don’t want to blow it. How do I make good connections with people?
By being yourself. However, if “yourself” is entirely obnoxious, you may want to tone it down a notch. Shake someone’s hand if it’s offered; ask questions; find common ground. BOOM. Do NOT pitch endlessly, demand people read your stuff or throw drinks or spew over people. It’s the little things.

Also, know your logline INSIDE OUT and ensure you can deliver it conversationally when someone asks, “What are you working on?” Which they totally will. And don’t confuse a logline with a tagline.

Good luck!

lucy-v-hayBIO: Lucy V Hay is a script editor, novelist and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is author of the book, WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS (Creative Essentials).


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