I started entering writing competitions a few years ago for a couple of TV scripts I had been working on. It's a bloody minefield and can be very expensive to enter even a few of them. One thing that caught my eye in the maelstrom of events was this thing where you paid money to be able to pitch your movie idea to a creative bod from one of the big studios on skype.
I considered it for a moment, but quickly worked out I am the worst person in the world when having to describe my own work. It normally sounds like:
"yeah...well there's this woman and...she sees ghosts...and...there's another woman who...did I say that she sees ghosts?"
So, not for me. But an idea formed ... I imagined a man (pretty much like me) who thought he was pitching his movies to a big studio, but in fact, the whole thing was just a scam to get his money. But he keeps pitching because hopefully one day....?
I talked it over with Bernadette (longtime collaborator and partner) and she agreed we should film them at home on my DLSR camera. We'd both write, she would direct and I would perform. The great thing about it is that because he is pitching on skype in the scene there is only one set up, so it gives us the freedom to play without having to do different lighting setups, etc.
We started with TREEMAN and put in on YouTube in the hope people might like it. It's got some lovely responses so we aimed to do 5 more. Once a month roughly. We would sketch out the episode a couple of days before, set it up and then improvise around ideas. We would edit and then put it out. The biggest problem I found was harddrive space. The rest was pretty straightforward.
We entered it for a festival called STAREABLE in New York 6 months ago - and this month it's being shown in a venue in Brooklyn. We are also nominated for BEST COMEDY (long form) and BEST WRITING and we will find out if we won on the 21st. Being nominated is amazing and so we're happy already.
At this moment it seems many creative people are frustrated by gatekeepers, with too many firewalls between an audience and the work. The point of firewalls is to safeguard the public from low quality work or offensive material. But I think an audience can work out what's good and what's not so good quite quickly on their own. Also, the best thing about people watching things and liking things is that we all have very different viewpoints and very different tastes. I won't say any more on this subject because I might be swimming into the deep end without my armbands on...
Making something fairly simply and quickly and putting it in front of an audience without having to wait for someone else's permission to do so is very pleasing. I've had scripts in development for years and years, so having this quick turn around is heavenly. Festivals and sites like the brilliant people at Stareable also give you access to a new audience and a wonderful community of people, trying and successfully making work on the web.
So please watch the whole series of PITCHES- I really hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. Leave a comment and subscribe, it means a lot. Bernadette and I have a new web series coming out this year called DEREK AND DAISY DO, which follows a brother and sister team teaching you about the essentials in life, for example....waving. See you on the other side.