In an attempt to further develop my skills (as well as my CV) I recently entered a writing competition on Ideastap, which involved sending a pitch/synopsis for a feature or TV project. The prize was a place on a one-day Film Development Workshop run by The Screen Arts Institute in association with Working Title Films. I was delighted on Tuesday when I was emailed to say that my pitch was successful and that I had a place on the workshop. I frantically got flights booked to London for Thursday morning, flying out first thing and flying back late. I would love to have made a weekend trip out of it but it would have to be a one day visit due to other work commitments. After the initial rush of excitement I realised that I now needed to send my pitch (as well as my aforementioned and somewhat lacking creative CV) to all of the other participants on the workshop. As the emails started to steadily flow in from everyone and as I perused through the pitches and CVs, I had a sinking feeling: What the hell am I doing? I looked over the CVs of producers, actors, award winning writers, directors. Then I returned to mine. I know everyone has to start somewhere but I felt very inadequate in the CV department. If it were my day-job CV, I wouldn’t have a problem but I struggled with forwarding my pitch and CV to twenty people who I already felt subordinate to. Obviously, that’s my own issue and the very reason I had submitted my pitch to the competition in the first place. I bit the bullet and hit the SEND button.
A 4 a.m. start found me very bleary eyed in Dublin airport, which was surprisingly busy. I’d opted to “treat myself” and fly to London City Airport instead of one of the outer lying airports. The flight was mostly business men with leather brief cases and brogues, so the reconditioned air had a smell of men and leather which reminded me of a hazy night in Berlin many moons ago. Anyway, the less said about that the better. Having never flown into London City Airport before I wasn’t sure if it would be as close to town as I’d been led to believe (and my doubting nature doesn’t even trust Google Maps) but lo-and-behold, it was. A few minutes on the DLR and Tube and I was off at London Bridge. Goodbye Heathrow/Stanstead/Gatwick- I’ll never darken your door again. As per my usual routine, I was very early. The workshop was due to commence at 10.30, so I’d a couple of hours to wander around Borough Market and the surrounding area. After a lovely breakfast on Bermondsey Street, I made my way to Ideastap, where the workshop was being held. Being one of the first to arrive, I was greeted by Steve May who immediately made me feel relaxed with his casual and inviting manner. The room suddenly filled and the workshop began. It was clear that I wasn’t the only one there with a pinch of nerves, and that in itself was reassuring. It’s a lesson I keep being taught by the universe (but I obviously haven’t actually learnt it yet): everyone starts somewhere and my life experience is just as valid and important as anyone else’s, regardless of the length of their CV or the awards on their mantelpiece. The schedule for the day was crammed full, including a working lunch. The basic format was going to be pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, and then pitch again, with some tutorials in between. This terrified me somewhat, as I know pitching isn’t my forte. We would work in different pairs at each pitch, so as to get a fresh perspective with each pitch. My first dyad was with a lovely woman called Colleen and we both struggled a little with our pitch (I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that!) but that was exactly the point. It’s a learning process of finding out what does and doesn’t work in your pitching technique, as well as having questions asked about the story itself. I can honestly say I learnt something from each of the people I was partnered with during the day and I hope the experience was reciprocal. I also had to pitch to the entire group, which was nerve wrecking, but at least it was towards the end of the day so I had improved since the morning both in terms of my presentation skills and what I included in the pitch (i.e. giving the basics in an engaging manner).
It was also great to network with some of the people there and I’ll hopefully see some of them at future courses and festivals. I picked up some extra techniques for helping me to move my story forward and the general feedback I received will no doubt be of huge benefit as I start to write the treatment for my feature. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate in recommending any courses in which Steve May is involved. Even though I found the day exhausting it was of huge benefit and I was delighted to have secured a place in on the workshop in the first instance. It was an encouraging pat on the back that I needed. Go me!