One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld occurred in Season 4. Jerry, with some assistance from George, went ahead with a request from some NBC executives to create a sitcom. George, being George, commandeered the ship, leading to hilarious…disastrous…then a slightly successful outcome.
The title of the climactic episode is, “The Pitch”. Commander George stands in front of a room full of NBC executives and pitches a show about…Nothing.
The episode is written on a number of levels. All of which are hilarious.
Let me digress for a few paragraphs. Over the past six weeks, I’ve been distracted by the opportunity to practice writing screenplays. It’s a long story how…but I am glad that I’m trying it. It is different from writing novels and the craft is quite difficult. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that any fool can write a screenplay. It’s really hard.
Anyhoo…I’m giving myself a crash course in the art of writing a screenplay. I’m practicing on my own works, published and unpublished. I’ve downloaded and printed several full movie screenplays, purchased the best books on the subject, and purchased software that is considered the best screenwriting software in the business.
I’ve also reached out to industry professionals, some of whom have given me their precious time and most important…nuggets of their wisdom. Maybe they see that I’m hungry to be good at another aspect of the writing game. Besides, if I compose a great screenplay…well, a decent one…they may have first dibs on it.
One of the filmmakers that is giving me leadership and advice is quite interested in my finished works. I keep cranking out screenplays for him, so that he can “grade” them and give me more words of wisdom. Earlier this week, after sending him a couple more of my screenplays, he expressed interest in an adaptation of my novel “Jocko”. For my own reasons, I eased him away from that and we started discussing a newer project.
Not really knowing the process, I suggested that I begin writing an idea that I’ve been kicking around. What he said next shocked me:
“Get me a pitch.”
After two days of research on the process, most folks don’t go into a “Pitch” without a screenplay…but I am.
I’m going in with…Nothing.
Yes, my story has all of the hallmarks of a traditional story, “Beginning-Middle-End”, “Good guys & Bad Guys”, “Cliffhangers”…etc…but when I pitch it, next week, to a real-live, breathing producer, I will be walking in with absolutely nothing except an outline, notes, my memory…and NOTHING else.
I am not “lost in the ether”. I know that there are millions of screenplays that never see the light of day. So I’m not overly giddy. I am quite thankful that I am getting an opportunity to experience the business.
Oh…I forgot to mention…I’m not abandoning my true love, writing novels and short stories. I’m just going to try to do both.
I hope that you continue to take this little trip with me.
Hmmm…Maybe George was on to something…