Fever Pitch

At certain times of the year, the entertainment business in this town seems to snap into gear. No one plans to get much done over summer (particularly in August) or over the Christmas period. Then there’s a scramble to get things on the move. January seems to be the month during which all the behind-the-scenes action takes place. So after a seemingly endless dry spell, I now have audition notices coming out of my ears.

Actors are always the last piece of the puzzle, as if an afterthought. It is, like the woefully low wages, all down to supply and demand. You’re lucky if you get a day’s notice for an audition, which makes trivial things like rent-paying day jobs rather inconvenient. I was bemoaning trudging to another round of castings when my writer/producer friend Olivia invited me to a pitching event.

“You get 60 seconds to pitch your idea for a film to a panel of experts. Come on, it’ll be fun – maybe someone will have a project for you.”

Maybe they will, but it’ll be at least two years in development (if it even gets funding) before anything comes of it. But I figured why not, I needed a night out and the venue was on my bus route.

We spent an hour watching hopeful writers, directors and producers boiling their dreams down to minute-long pleas only to be told their projects weren’t commercially viable, were “between genres” or that a similar project was already in development starring Tom Hanks.

Though the pitching was disenchanting, the pitchers of sangria were delightful. Everyone was so busy schmoozing, they didn’t have time for boozing, leaving the limited free quantities to the more resourceful amongst us. Olivia was feverishly working the schmoozer set, so I sat at the bar and started chatting with Dean, a screenwriter. He was a “real” screenwriter – he didn’t even need to be a “/something”. He had a dozen movies optioned and four actually produced – a couple of indies and a couple of big budget bang-em-ups. He was a bit older and, I hoped, wiser than most of the crowd and boy could he talk. The more he talked, the more I drank, and the more I drank, the more interesting he became. I was enjoying his recounting of how he went from driving a forklift to writing – and selling! – screenplays, when Olivia whisked in out of nowhere and swooped me away with some made-up emergency.

Once at a safe distance, she said “Lucy, darling, what are you doing with that writer? You need to be dating a director or a producer. Writing is lonely work – that guy will talk your ear off just because he’s out of the house and has someone to talk to. You’ll never get anywhere with that old git.” Then she repeated, as if I was clueless, or drunk, or both: “Date someone who can help you.”

I knew on some level, she had a point. But I couldn’t help it – he was cute. I pretended to drop my bus pass and stalled just long enough to slip him my card on the way out.