My Pilgrimage to Austin – Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before you start this, be sure and read Part 1 HERE

pitch contestants

by Lew Ritter


The Pitch Session:

I was selected to participate in a Pitch session at the church. The room was filled with people, but only ten lucky people per session would be chosen to pitch their script ideas.

Once your name was called, you had ninety seconds to be brilliant. You introduced yourself and then told the essentials of your story. During the Pitch session, time slowed to a crawl as you tried to be animated and tell a good story. Should I say more? Have I said too much? All of these thoughts exploding in your head, as your mouth moved faster than the feet of the cast of Dancing with the Stars.
The Judges stopped the speaker after ninety seconds.

Several of the participants were brilliant. They mesmerized their audience with their stories. Others bumbled their way through their ninety seconds of fame. Some of the participants floundered because they didn’t have much of a story to tell. They had either not thought out their story, or threw in too much irrelevant details.

It became my turn and the adrenaline rushed to my fevered brain. I was pitching a high concept disaster movie called EMP. The ninety seconds flew by in a blur. I tried to remember the story that I had rehearsed and then through in as much detail finish the pitch. What were their flaws? Why would we care about these people? The judges wanted to hear more of the character interaction between the main character and the other characters in the story.

Overall, it was another outstanding event for the day. It helped you get climb out of your shell and practice the art of pitching. You need to be proficient in order for the sizzle and the steak of your juicy story to get to some potential executive interested. The morning Improv session had proven to be a good warmup for the afternoon pitch session.

Saturday Evening

At night or between sessions, the premiere gathering place for the Festival was the lobby and bar of the Driskill hotel. Attendees were aggressive in mingling with other festival members. We exchanged business cards in the hope of a chance meeting with a Producer or Manager over their steamed lattee. They were all hoping to meet someone who could read their scripts and anoint them official screenwriters.

Unfortunately, most of the people that I met over the course of the weekend were regular folk like myself. As a Second Rounder, my status was elevated, but I was merely part of the eager masses seeking the favor of the industry royalty.

I spent the better part of both evenings at the bar in the hotel. It was like speed dating. If you didn’t find someone compelling, just find an excuse and walk over to the next group of attendees. Everyone mingled and exchanged business cards.

Again, the pattern for the convention was that some people might be worth keeping in touch with and others not so worthy. After three hours, I had reached the end of my endurance. I took a cab back to my hotel a few miles from town.

Sunday ( Day Two)

Wash, Rinse Repeat. I got up early for a hearty breakfast and traveled back to Festival Central.

Bloodlines Discussion: 


One of the panels that I had hoped to catch the panel discussion of Bloodlines: Family Noir. Todd Kessler, producer of the series on Netflix was going to give a behind the scenes look at the show. This was a disappointment, as I had binge watched the series on Netflix. I made special notes not to miss this seminar.

The casting was impeccable. Bloodlines was intricately plotted and grabbed my interest from the opening episode. Due to heavy rains, Kessler cancelled at the last minute. It was a huge disappointment. I was eager to learn the secrets of such an intricate show and perhaps even shake hands.

Second Rounder: Now What? This was the final panel for Second Rounders. It featured recent winners of the festival. They explained what happened to them after they won. Some of them were cheerleaders that encouraged the audience to use their status as Second Rounders or above to leverage agents and managers.


Overall, I enjoyed myself, but I was exhausted by the end of the weekend. My goal was to meet as many people as possible; and attend as many workshops as possible. The Festival offered a wide variety of workshops for Second Rounders and above.

I met lots of interesting people. I exchanged a large number of business cards. Some people would be worth staying in touch with. However, I was disappointed in the lack of real opportunity to network with decision makers.

Aside from the Roundtable, most of the people at the Festival were ordinary folks looking for the magic to rub off on them. Some of the contacts and people that I met may develop into something significant. It is way too early to pass judgement on the networking aspect.

Chances are good that I would return next year, especially, if I get another script into Second Rounder or above status.