Thursday July 24, 2014
The train ride on Wednesday was productive (I answered so many emails) and uneventful (no emergency calls from anyone I am working with on anything). When we got into town, we went immediately to the printer to get a copy of our poster printed, then to the presentation venue for a tech check (I cannot overstate the value of this part of the process, people. Don’t even wait until someone says “hey do you want to test your PowerPoint on our computer before you go on stage?” Demand it from the outset! Fantasia is, of course, fantastic and well-organized and we met the glorious Maria Reinup at the venue and sorted everything out and then went to the hotel for rehearsals.
We didn’t actually get started on practicing our pitch until around 9 or 10pm, so by the time we were done, it was pretty late. Still, going to bed late is about 100 times better than going to bed drunk, so we all still woke up bright and early on Thursday and ready for a day of pitches.
I kept swinging wildly between the extremes of feeling completely confident and totally terrified all day, but the other presentations kept me balanced. They were a good mix of totally polished and casual, and I could tell that almost everyone was just as nervous as I was. On the whole, I thought everyone did quite well. And it was good to remind myself of this fact before going on stage, because there were certainly moments during some of the other presentations when people flubbed a line or couldn’t get their slide shows or videos to work, and it was still fine. The audience is forgiving. People understand that it’s nerve-wracking and for the most part, they want you to do well.
The pitches were held in a small theatre so any A/V elements looked and sounded great on the big screen. Each team was allotted ten minutes, and both the director and producer(s) were supposed to speak. The presentations were done in three blocks of four, with short breaks. We were in the final block, so by that point the audience was getting a bit tired. The benefit was that we got to see most of the other teams do a wide variety of different kinds of pitches (funny, serious, slick, messy), so by the time we got on stage, we didn’t feel like we might be the only terrible one.
As it turns out, we did great. We were concise, we stuck to the 10 minute time limit, and we had a pretty killer proof of concept video of 100% original footage to show off our (by “our” I mean “James’s”) special effects skills.
I thought my voice was shaking pretty bad but when I got off stage people kept saying “wow, you sounded so confident”, so I guess I’m going to start saying “I was extremely confident and it showed” the next time anyone asks whether I was nervous.
The afternoon of speed-dating style meetings that followed the morning of pitch sessions flew by in a total blur. Every half an hour, a new person would sit down, we’d chat excitedly and then a bell would ring and everyone would play musical chairs. Of the many highlights were our two meetings with super-producers Travis Stevens and Brian Udovich, who did us the incredible courtesy o reading the current draft of our script in advance, so that they were able to release some hardcore real-talk on us about how to improve it. I feel very inspired to spend August working on the next draft.
In the evening, we went to the networking cocktail party to schmooze with pals. Everyone had so much excess adrenaline to burn off that it was really nice to do it over wine on a gorgeous rooftop terrace. We went for post-cocktail drinks at ye olde Irish Embassy because we had some time to kill before the post-birthday present that the world’s greatest husband had planned for me – dinner at Au Pied de Cochon, where I’ve wanted to overstuff myself with meats for yearssssss.
We watched the table next to us get a pig’s head with a lobster coming out of its mouth. It looked impressive. Our own family style meal involved foie gras, tuna tartar, clams in blue cheese sauce, a veal porterhouse steak, a crazy pot of pork belly, sausages and cheesy polenta, and the restaurant’s signature “duck in a can”. Oh yeah, there was also maple bread pudding and a rhubarb pastry that almost killed me.
I was mostly incapacitated after that meal, so a single drink at the Irish had to be followed by almost immediate lying down. Holy. The meat.