Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Things I Learned from American Film Market

Screenwriter and producer Ed Fletcher delivers his pitch for "Pink" at the 2014 American Film Market as pitch expert and forum moderator Stephanie Palmer looks on.

By Ed Fletcher

Armed with a stack of business cards, some new pink ties and a four-day pass ($500), I recently attended American Film Market in Santa Monica, one of the world’s largest film markets, to develop or sell my screenplay Pink. For more information on Pink, a sexy dramatic comedy based on Sacramento’s 1969 bottomless stripper trial, read my blog or find us on Facebook. What follows is a rundown of things I learned or reconfirmed from attending American Film Market for the first time and as someone new to film.

  1. Hollywood is not about openness or inclusion. It’s a meritocracy based on your ability to make them money. That’s not an indictment, just real talk.
  2. In the film world there are creative types and business types. AFM is more for the business types. It ain’t called a market for nothing.
  3. There is little demand for comedies, dramas, sports movies or urban movies overseas. As a result, there are an exorbitant number of low budget thrillers, action movies and beast/zombie movies being made and marketed. 
  4. Getting on stage at the Pitch Conference can make you interesting to all the other filmmakers in the room, but since heavy hitters were in the their temporary sales offices blocks away, you’re still a nobody to them. 
  5. Just because somebody retweets you doesn’t mean you’re somebody to them.  
  6. Having a good pitch is one thing, but have it packaged (name director or talent signed on) and you’re cookin’. I wasn’t cooking.
  7. Wearing a Pink tie everyday was a great idea. Who forgets the Black guy, wearing a pink tie, and talking about a screenplay named Pink?  
  8. Cell phones are a security blanket for people afraid to be alone. It’s hard to spark up a conversation when people are checking their security blanket.
  9. The Producer Forums are popular: Get there early. Disregard this if you have a confirmed “producers” credit and can skip the line. 
  10. Despite the new ways to network through social media, nothing beats spending time in the lobby bar in terms of making connections.

The event offers a bevy of high level forums on the film business.
The rooms of two Santa Monica hotels are turned into temporary film offices.
Ed Fletcher posing for a picture at American Film Market 2014.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time to Say "Geronimo" and Take Film Leap

When I was a little kid and even into adolescence, I loved to take risks.
In those days of perfect knees, I jumped from roofs, moving trucks and once from one moving speed boat to another. I thought nothing of taking a ski jump within weeks of learning to ski.
Like most people, as the years moved along I found myself taking fewer risks.
I ski with the goal of not falling. I keep the cruise control set at 75 mph as to not get a ticket. And I’ve sought comfort in my work environment.
On one hand, comfort and safety is a beautiful thing in this troubled economic climate. But on the other hand, it can be constricting and confining when your heart wants to soar.
Illustration by Val Mina
The instability of the journalism industry pushed me to do something I should have been doing all along: taking risks.
A three years, ago I started screenwriting and performing improv. Two days before my 40th birthday I hosted a comedy show and performed stand up.
Now I’m on my way to Santa Monica for the American Film Market conference in hopes of selling my screenplay or packaging it as an independent film.
Here's the logline for those new to this blog: A free-speech loving exotic dancer battles a small-town sheriff and bares it all to prove her "bottomless" dance is art worthy of protection in this sexy dramatic comedy based on a real 1969 case.
I’m characterizing it as a risk, but is it really?
Based on my submitted video pitch, I’ll already by pitching the script during the pitch session, so at worst I bomb the pitch, but salvage the weekend by taking notes at some very valuable forums and meeting a distributor interested in the film once its a completed.
But how likely is that? I’ve been a rally commissioner, scout camp leader, improv performer, television host, stand up comedian, and “the Voice” at Burning Man.
The upside: I nail the pitch, meet Jennifer Lawrence’s agent Jeremy Plager in the lobby bar, we get hammered, end up back at her place, she challenges to a beer chugging contest, loses and agrees to star in my film.
Here is to taking risks that arn’t too risky.

Like Pink Film on Facebook and follow @edfletcher on twitter for reports from the road. Hell I might even Instagram some famous people if my battery survives. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Trying My Hand at Stand-up Comedy

To celebrate my 40th birthday I stepped on stage to do something I’d spent hours and hours thinking about but struggled to find the confidence to do earlier: stand up comedy.

For a little under two years, I’ve been performing improv comedy with The Sacramento Comedy Spot's Wednesday night training team so one would think I would have worked out all my jitters. But as anyone in the comedy world can tell you, the disciplines are different. Improv (within a structure) you make up the entire show.

Telling people you do improv comedy is a lot like telling someone the Midwest you’re a Vegan not a Vegetarian.

People are much more familiar with and less forgiving with stand up. It’s simple you stand on stage and be funny. I’ve always thought of myself as a funny guy and been told as such. Over the years, I perfected my comedic timing for training sessions, classes, and such. I’m the king of witty quips, but could I be funny on demand?

For about as long as I’ve been doing improv I’m been eyeing the stand up guys. They’re nerds, just the same as the improv performers, but few people did both. I figured my brain was under enough stress learning one, why may its worse doing both. So between my film projects, work and other obligations I never got around to taking the Comedy spot's class on stand up, but I was tucking away bits I thought were funny.

So rather than wait my turn at open mics like all starting comics do, I invited everyone I know to come see me and a few other people perform during a comedy spot “Test Kitchen” slot.

Here is my second time on stage doing stand-up:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Film about exotic dance trial needs an image

Which of these three are best represent "Pink?"

Having never been a screenwriter before maybe I don’t know any better, but when I finish something I burn to see it made. That’s the point, right.

With that in mind I’m going to American Film Market in Santa Monica Nov. 5-12 to sell or develop my feature screenplay “Pink.

Logline: A free-speech-loving exotic dancer battles a small-town sheriff and bares it all to convince a jury that her "bottomless" dance is art worthy of protection in this sexy courtroom comedy based on an actual 1969 case.

Here’s where you come in. The super talented graphic artist Val Mina has offered up three great ideas for an illustration. The illustration will be used on the web, but most importantly right now will be the image on our “leave behind” materials given to distributors, agents, producers, money men, casting directors and the like.

  1. In one the judge's robes become the theater curtains, as a girl dances on stage.
  2. Instead of lady justice we have a judge peeking under the blindfold to get peek at the lady dancing on one of the scales.
  3. Classic. On possible variation would be to have sheriff between the legs rather than the judge.

Give us your thoughts.

I had previously begun laying the groundwork for a photo shoot and video tease also be used to market the film, but in the interest of time that will wait until after November. Thanks again for your support in this endeavor.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Despite fears, ticket secured to big film event

Matchbook from the Pink Pussy Kat Club
And with a click I’m going to Hollywood.

Well, going to Santa Monica for what’s billed at one of the top film conferences in the world.

If you’re new to the blog, I’m a longtime newspaper writer with the bold ambition of turning his first feature-length screenplay into a film. That’s why three days before my 40th Birthday hit “purchase” on a $500 ticket.

I’ve produced a couple shorts, but this will be, by far, my most significant film project.
Going to this thing kinda terrifies me.
My brief experience in film has taught me that Hollywood isn’t built to absorb ideas from outsiders.
It’s hard to sell a script, until you have an agent. And its hard to get an agent, until you’ve sold a script.

I’ve tried from afar. But to date, none of the 30 odd email queries I’ve sent have been met by a positive response. That’s to be expected I’m told.
Going to the conference is a chance to take matters in my own hands. Here is the wiki description of the event:

The American Film Market (AFM) is a film industry event held each year at the beginning of November in Santa Monica, California. About 8,000 people attend the eight day event to network and to sell, finance and acquire films. Participants come from more than 70 countries and include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, etc. Founded in 1981, the AFM quickly became one of the premier global marketplaces for the film business, where unlike a film festival, production and distribution deals are the main focus of the participants.

Event marketing materials point out that whole films have come together at AFM, but I bet they had an agent to schedule those meetings. Not that I hadn’t been working hard already on moving the script and film forward, but knowing that in a month I’ll have a golden opportunity to make a contact that can catapult this project forward is invigorating. I worry I won’t have the money to put my best foot forward, but I’ll do the best I can.

Between now and then I’ll perfect my pitch, study the players, and develop “leave behind” materials that keeps my screenplay “Pink” on their minds.

If you’re just coming to this blog its high time I tell you what the film is about:

Logline: A free-speech-loving exotic dancer battles a small-town sheriff and bares it all to convince a jury that her "bottomless" dance is art worthy of protection in this sexy courtroom comedy based on an actual 1969 case.

Membership card from Pink Pussy Kat
It’s a story I learned about through my occupation as a newspaper reporter. The fact that the club was in Orangevale the community where I grew up only fueled my interest. Now I want to bring this story to the big screen for all of Sacramento. I’m hoping people will support me and rally to this cause.

I could use help reading my business plan, giving me feedback on my pitch, crafting my leave behind materials and finding a place to crash.
I’m so thankful for all the people who have helped me get this far. I’d never have made it this far without your encouraging words, feedback and participation in table reads. A special thanks to all of the people who have tried to connect me with your Hollywood connections.

We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m confident will be much further down that road as a result of the conference. Help me break a leg.

Follow the movement on Facebook.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Burning Year Around

In a little over one week I’ll be heading to the desert for my sixth Burning Man.

The event, in it’s 28th year, is a week long arts, music and cultural festival in the Nevada Blackrock desert. It is characterized by three things: the harsh environment, participation and the feverishness of participants.
 I’m sure my list of three will be debated. Some would say drugs or the clothes or the music. Allow me to retort: The environment dictates the dress and is the main reason most people won’t come. Unlike concert festivals, Burning Man demands that
everyone participate and be part of the show. And that participation leads me to the next point: Burners are obsessed about talking about Burning Man.  
A non-burner co-worker recently compared burners to hovering parents.
But for good reason. There is a whole lot to prepared for: feeding yourself for a week, costumes, travel etc. However, the main reason many burners can’t stop talking about Burning Man is to a certain extent they never left. The random collection of peaceful, art, music and fun-loving tribes is easily more alluring than the work-a-day world with bits a fun sprinkled in between budget meetings.
But also many of us have been in project mode almost since we left. Here’s a sampling of some of the things my campmates have been working on:

- Tractor is the queen of playa clothes gifting. She spent 100s of hours making tutus, miniskirts and booty shorts for the people she’s never met. She enjoys nothing more than helping a new burner out of their khakis.

- Boosh in addition to other projects built the Pantzooka. We’ll playful save those afflicted with the urge to shirtcock. Yes, shirtcockers are men who rocks a t-shirt with their bit exposed. Here is the commercial I made with my non-burner engineer and artist for use on the on-site radio station. The station streams on the Internet at

-Princess Fussy Pants, with Scout and her craftsman, built the Burner Pen Pal Project. The attractive, functional setup allows burners to safely exchange off-playa addresses for letter exchanges and a website for people to share those experiences.  Here is the radio spot.

- Uncle Bob is the king of camp construction. He’s built lamps, expanded the bar, built high-bar tables, redesigned our shower and has generally been working like a mad man to ensure everyone is comfortable and the camp functions.

- Captain America is racing to complete a kegerator for camp.