I headed south to Universal City two weeks ago and met other authors who harbor that dream of seeing their novel on the big screen, or at the very least on T.V. or Netflix.
Sisters in Crime-National put on an exciting conference that drew people from around the country to pitch to Hollywood. Across from Universal Studios we honed and practiced our pitches ad nauseam in the hotel where the event was housed. The intense conference started on Friday, so we drove up on Thursday, settled in and had a few cocktails to psyche ourselves up.
And then Friday came and things got serious real quick. After the nice breakfast compliments of Sisters we listened to an hour of pitching advice before we were grouped into about 7 or 8 people. We began honing our pitches with an industry veteran who mentored us.
In the pitch-practice group, our mentor asked questions about our stories, pulling out pertinent information to target more succinctly what the film producer, agent, etc. needs, which (Takeaway #1) is not the same as what a book publisher is looking for.
We worked to condense our story into two sentences; boiling it down to its essence; a visual snap shot—the log line. Yeah, right? Your whole story that has taken you a year to write smashed into two sentences? But we did it—because that will hook your listener (insert agent, producer) to want to know more (Takeaway #2).
After lunch we met the buyers for film and television through a panel of those movers and shakers giving us their backgrounds, what they do and what they are looking for. Their backgrounds were amazing, intimidating and awesome. I listened intently to the president and producer of the film company I would be pitching to.
In the afternoon we re-grouped and were taken to wait outside the room in which we would individually pitch for five minutes. Everyone’s nerves were on edge—there was nail biting, pacing, nervous chatter until our time came. Even the pros who’d had multiple books and series were nervous—no one escaped the anxiety.
And then it was my turn. And the producer /president of the film company I pitched Dance the Dream Awake to was wonderfully calming and engaging. I was instantly at ease, chatting a bit before I gave my pitch. And she wanted to read my book! WOOT! Of course that’s only the first step in a series of many steps that are yet ahead, if I am so fortunate to go all the way. The reward for braving the pitch was a cookie and a free drink at the bar.
The next day we could all relax and listen to information from more industry experts and gatekeepers; the film and television writers who talked about the developmental process, and the story analysts, producers and developmental executives explain their role in the process and what they look for when they evaluate books—the process of getting a film made from our stories, entails sooo many people. (Takeaway #3) It became clear why it takes so long and why it’s often derailed.
If someone wants to put your book to film, you will have to let go of any expectations as to what the final product will look like. You will no longer have any say unless your name is Diana Gabaldon. This panel’s unanimous advice: LET GO of your own expectations, take the check and cash it because from that point on it’s out of your hands—if you are so fortunate to sell to Hollywood.
Dance the Dream Awake on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Dream-Awake-Cora-Ramos/dp/1626942668
Black Opal Books http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/blackopalstore/page-1
Cora J. Ramos writes short stories and novels of mystery and suspense.
Her first novel, DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE is a paranormal romantic suspense, set in present day, but with a past life set in the ancient Mayan history of the Yucatan, Mexico.
Her second novel, HAIKU DANCE, is a historical romantic thriller set in 980 A.D. in one of Japan’s unique times—the Heian era. To be published April 16, 2016, by Black Opal Books and available at all ebook outlets.