After years of fearing pitchfests almost as much as needle-toothed clowns and the arrival of high-pollen season, I decided to bite the bullet and attend one. I chose the Secret Door Pitch Fest put on by Script Pipeline Into Motion Pictures for a couple reasons. First, it was happening soon enough after my decision to attend a pitchfest that I couldn’t back out. And second, it’s smaller and more intimate than some of the bigger pitchfests where you have hundreds and hundreds of writers all vying for the attention of the producers and creative exec’s. For those of us who have never experienced a pitch fest before, here’s the basic structure: a writer has about 5 minutes to pitch his or her best project to a collection of industry executives who are willing to listen. When the bell rings, you’re done and you have to move on to the next executive (or wait in line to see the next executive.) I actually have four different projects I wanted to pitch, and of course 5 minutes isn’t enough time to tell the stories on all of them, so this is what I did. I spent the first minute talking about myself, my training and awards and stuff. I memorized this stuff so it was easy to rattle off the top of my head. Then I gave one-sentence loglines (including genre) for all four projects, hoping at least one would resonate with the exec and he/she would want to know more. To remember, I wrote all four loglines on an index card. That took about a minute. Usually the exec would agree to listen to more about one of my stories, sometimes two. I made up an index card for each script, each with a longer logline, some comparable movies or reference points, a 2-sentence description of the protagonist and his main goal, a 1-sentence description of the world and a description of a scene or two that illustrates the premise and entertainment value of the movie. I think some writers get hung up on thinking you have to tell your entire story in 5 minutes, and that just isn’t the case. The Pitch Fest meeting are more designed to allow writers to introduce themselves and their most passionate projects to industry professionals that they might otherwise not get the chance to meet. I thought Secret Door was very well organized and I was extremely glad I went. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to learn how to pitch as it’s an essential job skill; there’s no getting away from that part. Pitch Fests are an excellent way to hone those skills and I plan to attend many more in the future.