Going Back to Austin?

This weekend I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where my focus needs to be. Sometimes my thoughts can be all over the place and unfortunately this act can stall my productivity. There are so many ideas I want to try and tackle, but I came to the conclusion that I need to juggle only one or two projects at a time.

So, what’s my motivation to get these projects done?

Deadlines! I’m using screenwriting competition deadlines to kick my productivity into high gear. The main two competitions I have on my radar is the Nicholl Fellowships and the ATX Pitch Competition. The ATX Pitch Competition is the earlier deadline, they usually open up for submissions around November and you have to submit a writing sample along with a ninety second video pitch. I did this once a few years back, but didn’t make it to the next round. I’m going to try again with my latest project that made it to the second round for the Macro Episodic Lab. It’s my favorite concept so far and it’s very personal, so I’m hoping this will stand out amongst the other submissions.

If I do make it to the finals I’ll get to go back to Austin and pitch my show in front of the judges and a live audience. I have participated in a pitch competition before back in 2015 at the Austin Film Festival and that experience was very nerve-racking.

Here’s some of the post from my 2015 blog:

I still can’t believe I pitched my single camera half hour comedy drama script in front of a live audience that included ICM agent, Rebecca Ewing and writer/executive producer of Shameless, Nancy Pimental. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go through with it. Even up to the last minute.

I was already feeling overwhelmed by the AFF experience, so the idea of pitching was literally terrifying to me. I hadn’t done public speaking in over ten years, but I was hoping my previous theater experience from high school would kick in to help me get over my fear.

I even went to the pitch session before my session, to show support for fellow Story Broad members and I wanted an idea of what I was in for. I sat in that pitch session and immediately got dry mouth for the entire session. I had never experienced dry mouth due to nervousness. I was already freaking out that I was going to have to pitch soon.

How and the hell was I going to pitch with dry mouth? I tried water, mints and gum. Nothing worked.

Now I had to get ready to pitch and I still was nervous and had dry mouth. They randomly selected what order you went in and I was number four. I actually didn’t mind that number since I didn’t want to go first, but I did want to get it over with as quickly as possible and not endure another pitch session with dry mouth.

I had my best friend, cheering me on and I felt confident that I was going to be able to get through it until I saw the judges walk in. My nerves kicked in to overdrive.

My inner monologue:

I’m not going to be able to do this. There’s the door. Run. Get the hell out of here!

My number was almost up. I chewed on one last piece of gum that was making my mouth feel even worse. One last swig of water and it was game time.

I gave my brief intro, including my name, title and genre. I spoke the first few sentences before I hit the first joke in my pitch and I honestly had no idea what to expect once I told this joke. I thought I would get a few chuckles. Maybe they would just give a polite smile to show sympathy for me. What if no one laughed?

It was the complete opposite. I told my joke and the entire room burst out laughing, even the judges! Holy shit! What just happened?

Let me explain this moment to you. I am an introverted person. I’m in my head all the time. I had only practiced my pitch with my voice recorder. The only laughs I’ve ever gotten in person were from a few family members, but I always thought they were being polite. So imagine that you are in my shoes and you just got that response from a room full of strangers. Holy shit!

Now you probably think that I slayed the rest of that pitch. (Do kids still use slayed?)

Gather around my friends, let me tell you how hearing that response completely threw me off my pitch game. I was in complete shock and it made me draw a blank for a few seconds. I was able to pick it back up, but I let my nerves get the best of me. I was able to complete the pitch, but I did have a few moments of panic come over me and the judges had to tell me to breathe. It was that damn laughter!

When it was over, the judges gave me great feedback and I was able to explain that the laughter threw me off. Nancy Pimental told me it would probably be a good idea to practice in front of people and not just in front of the mirror. They both liked the idea and didn’t hold back on what worked for them and what didn’t work.

After I sat back down, I was greeted by my smiling b.f.f. and two attendees sitting by us, who really enjoyed my pitch. I was so relieved it was over and extremely emotional from that experience as a whole, but what kept playing in my head was that laughter. I was literally on the verge of tears. I had to hold them back for the rest of the session. I knew there wasn’t a chance of me being called to the next round due to my nervous delivery. After everyone was done, I was even approached by a few other pitch participants who really enjoyed my pitch and said they would want to see my show.

Again, reading this 2015 blog post puts me right back in that room and the terrified feeling is still there. You’re probably wondering why I would want to put myself in that same position again. Although it was terrifying it was an amazing experience and it was a reminder that the idea I had was there, but the execution and delivery needed work.

That’s what this writing career is about…

The progress you make during the journey.

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