Do you have the best idea for a movie but don’t know what (or who) you have to do to get it made? Enter Battle of the Pitches. In its second year, the competition brings API talents straight to the boardroom where they are judged by high-level Hollywood execs and power players based on their one to two minute pitches for a screenplay idea. Sponsored by FOX Diversity and produced by MAPID (Mavericks of API Descent) and ID Film Fest 2010, Battle of the Pitches aims to promote up-and-coming artists and get them accustomed to the high stakes, pressurized nature of an actual pitch session with a producer or agent. Last year’s winner, James Huang, 33, demolished the competition with his script for the romantic comedy, All Your Fault. Here, he shares with Audrey what the experience was like.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, James.
My name is James Huang. I am primarily an actor and I have also written, produced and directed for film and television over the last 12 years between New York and Los Angeles. My script entitled, “ALL YOUR FAULT” is a romantic comedy that won last year’s Battle of the Pitches at the first ever ‘BREAKING THE BOW’ festival. My script was also a finalist at two other festivals this year, including the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the IndieProducer screenwriting competition.
Can you share with us a little about your experience for last year’s competition?
I don’t remember much of any of it since it was all up and over within a single night for me. My lovely friend, Kelvin Han Yee called me randomly that afternoon and informed me about the Battle of the Pitches a few hours before the event was to take place in Santa Monica. He asked if I had any projects in the works, as I often do, and he encouraged me to pitch my script to the live festival competition. I didn’t feel prepared to do anything of the sort, and so I graciously declined participating. But then Kelvin insulted my masculinity, artistic integrity, and genitalia (in that order) — to which I accepted his challenge and showed up to the Breaking the Bow festival. I didn’t know what any of it was, but I think I saw it advertised on Kelvin’s never ending Facebook tweets earlier that week. I also had to make it clear to Kelvin that all my parts were in perfectly fine working order, size, and of the male gender.
How did you pitch your screenplay?
In terms of pitching it, I just threw it out there in sixty seconds in a similar way that I would in trying to tell a really interesting story or even a joke at a bar — It’s dark, noisy, people’s attention spans are limited and they’ve heard it all before. You have sixty seconds to make an impression or go home alone again — ready, set, GO.
How did you prepare for the pitch?
I guess my preparation was just in the writing process itself. I didn’t prepare anything specific for the actual pitch competition since I didn’t have any time to. I had just recently finished the second draft of my script with my writing partner, Anna Musso. Not only did we have to discuss the material at length in the writing process, but we had been sharing it with a few people to check out and give me feedback and notes. When any writer does this, they naturally talk to others about the story and characters to friends, actors, and other writers. So I was already beginning to get familiar with talking about the key points of my script. I guess being concise and quick about it was all that the pitch competition really required. I also knew that I had to convey the tone of my piece with my presentation, so I had a bit of bitter attitude about it on stage — like a chip on my shoulder, which is what the central character of the story has. The character is on the brink of a melt down from having just been dumped, so I think at one point, I yelled angrily as I was explaining the story on stage. They got a laugh out of that, so I guess it was worked. I also like yelling on stage, no matter what I’m talking about.
What opportunities did winning the competition give you?
Being able to say that my screenplay won a festival contest and that the script was then read and considered by FOX 2000 and FOX Searchlight is always a nice thing to accompany a script when you’re looking for indie producers and investors. But the truth is, I’m still searching to get this film made. Hey, do you know anyone interested in giving me about a quarter million to make a film? I won this pitch competition and got to meet with FOX Searchlight and FOX 2000. They loved it. Absolutely loved it. And I love Kelvin Han Yee.
To enter, send your info to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry fee is $15