First Successful Screenwriting Pitch by Larry Wilson
Film Courage: Larry do you remember the first time that you pitched one of your screenplay ideas to a producer and it worked?
Larry Wilson: Yes…I do. And it was to a producer named Barry Cross and it was an original idea of mine. I’ve gotten to the point where pitching comes pretty easily to me because I’ve been on both sides of the desk and I know the drill and I know how to do it. But at first it was incredibly difficult and it was always like these sweaty armpits. And as you know…what I always worry about with these interviews is that everyone hears me stammering, you know? [Laughs] But I remember telling this story and he was engaged and he was listening and I’ve had pitches where (I know everyone has had these) two minutes in, it’s just a slow death march basically and you just want to get it over with and say goodbye and get out of the room but he was actually engaged and listening and I knew it was working because then he started asking me questions. And they weren’t the polite “here’s a couple questions, now go away!” He actually was curious and it was a great feeling and it allowed me to overcome a kind of a…I used to say that I started teaching so I’d learn to talk in front of people and now you can’t shut me up because there was a lot of shyness I had to overcome and so sitting in front of someone and talking at that point in my life wasn’t easy. But I could feel the eye contact. I could feel him engaged in the story and again when he started asking me questions that told me he had really been listening, that was a great feeling. And that made pitching easier until the next time I went to pitch and it all went horribly.
I’ve had them go both ways but I’ve developed a very thick skin about it now. A couple years ago I pitched an idea to Russell Brand’s development company. I think he’s…I don’t know if he has that company still? But I was told by his executive that it was too far out for Russell Brand and I thought “It’s too far out for Russell Brand? I’m ruined!” How does that happen [laughs]? And so that one, I went away going “Wow!” Acid flashback I guess or something?
Ins and Outs Of A Screenwriting Career In Hollywood
Larry Wilson [FULL INTERVIEW]
Film Courage: Timothy Leary would have gotten it.
Larry Wilson: Right! So pitch meetings can go both ways. What I’ve developed over the years is a real sense of humor about this stuff and there’s a great philosopher who has been a touchstone for me forever named Alan Watts and he once said (it’s almost like a riff on Jimmy Page’s ‘Don’t be respectable, be responsible’) but he said “Don’t be serious, be sincere.” And I think that is so true and I never go into these meetings trying to con someone or tell them something I don’t believe in. And I treat them very sincerely but I’ve learned not to take them seriously because I’ve seen people and I could actually tell some very dark stories about people who have taken this stuff way too seriously and it has literally destroyed them and I refuse to have a body count that like anymore in my life.
So you go in and you do your best and you tell them a story and you think you believe in it and if it’s too far out for Russell Brand, what can I say? I’m sorry [Laughs].
Question for the Viewers: Tell us about your first screenwriting pitch? What happened?
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