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08/07/2001 - COLLABORATION IS NOT A CRIME
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My Fellow Writers,

Last week, I talked about pitching. Then I went and pitched.

Well, let's just say that I didn't listen to myself on a couple of key pieces of advice - practicing the pitch until I was sick of it, and keeping a high energy level. Still, the concept carried the day. The production company is now on the verge of going to the studio with the pitch - which is the next step before we take it to a network.

In any case, what I want to talk about today is keeping an open mind. I will admit that I've dissed and dishonored development executives in this column many times. Being a former development executive myself, I feel that I have the right - not to mention the fact that I've heard of the most ridiculous notes you can imagine . . . including, in a production draft, a note to "change comma to a period." Yes, the grammar change that saved the picture!

So I went into this pitch meeting with, I'll admit, a small amount of bias. Especially since I had worked on various incarnations of this pitch since the Eisenhower Administration. Okay, that's not true, since my mom was not even in adolescence during Ike's reign. But I had worked on it a few times. I figured it was ready.

I was pitching this one with a partner. We started the meeting. A half hour of chit-chat, because we had met these executives before and had a lot to catch up on. But we probably chit-chatted too long, because I could sense the senior executive getting antsy - especially given that he had just come back from driving all day the day before, so he wasn't really at peak form.

So the pitch begins. We start off strong, but then meander through some of the story engines, flub up the magical hook, and generally miss the mark.

Then the surprise came - a development executive came up with a brilliant suggestion! I wanted to stand up and hug her. It was just a sentence or two, but in one fell swoop, she had truly saved the picture. What our pitch lacked was a grounding in solid emotional drama. I had to hand it to her - that's what she nailed right away. And for this duo to still like the pitch after the way we pitched it, well, let's just say that was a pleasant surprise, too.

So now we've done the changes spurred on by the young executive's brilliant comment, and also included the notes of the senior executive, and we're going back in to pitch it this week, so we can nail down our studio meeting.

This is all just a reminder to say that we should all remember that filmmaking is a collaborative art (or craft, if you prefer), and we must take the best nuggets from where we can get them. It is also to say that there's ALWAYS a way to make a project better. So keep rewriting . . . and keep those ears open.

Developed,

Grady

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