Maybe it’s because it’s Friday the 13th today… Maybe it’s because I wrote a post about James Cameron yesterday… Whatever the reason, it’s time to tell you…
Cautionary Tale #19: Always be on your best behavior at Pitch Festivals
[Queue scary music]
They say you should always be on your best behavior at Pitch Festivals and Screenwriting Expos. You just never know who you’re rubbing elbows with, or who may be listening in on your conversation.
Good advice I guess. But I’ve always considered it to be good advice for someone else. After all, I’m a genuinely happy-go-lucky kinda guy. There’s not a lot that can rattle me and I always treat people with respect and a friendly smile.
Los Angeles 2009 — The Great American PitchFest
So there I am, outside a convention room, waiting in line to speak with Pat Proft (the screenwriter behind such comedy classics as Airplane and Police Academy).
A few feet away, there’s a cute blonde girl speaking with great passion and eloquence about James Cameron.
I’ve now completely forgotten about Pat Proft.
Unfortunately the blonde is talking to a goofy-lookin’ dude in a baseball cap, who’s struggling to hold up his end of the conversation.
... my favorite director of all time. He’s amazing. For Avatar, he spent the last ten years developing the technology needed to realize his vision.
What’s his name again?
My blood starts to boil. Here we are at an event celebrating screenwriting, and this guy doesn’t even know who James Cameron is? Why is this girl wasting her time on him anyway?
You must know his movies. Aliens?... Terminator?... Titanic?
Titanic! Oh okay, I’ve heard of that one. I just didn’t know who did it.
After two minutes of this, I can’t contain myself.
How can you not know who James Cameron is? The guy is probably the most sought after writer-director in Hollywood! I mean seriously dude, what are you even doing here?
I knew something was wrong, when the goofy grin on this guy’s face suddenly changed to an imperious smirk. What he said next sent a shiver down my spine.
I may not know who James Cameron is... But the people I work with do.
(pulls out a pen)
What’s your name?
It occurred to me all too late that this goofy-looking dumb-ass was actually one of the producers or reps that I may actually be pitching to later that day. I think I then looked down and introduced myself as “Trrre… Uh… Trenton Carpet… shoe. Trenton Carpetshoe. Nice to meet you.” and quickly turned away.
The Moral of the Story
If you’re at a Pitch Fest or Expo, it’s never a good idea to lose your patience with anyone — no matter how irritating, boring or unapologetically brainless they appear to be (and no matter how hot or soulmatey the girl they’re talking to is).