Hollywood meets Tucson at Pitch Fest

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Courtesy of Pitch Fest Tucson

UA alumnus and Pitch Fest Tucson judge Matthew Lee Martin

This weekend, eight professionals who work in the film and television industry will make their way down to the UA to take part in the annual Pitch Fest Tucson. The event is a two-day workshop for community members who aspire to work in the industry. There will be two different components of the fest — a workshop on Friday and the opportunity to pitch to the professionals on Saturday.

The first Pitch Fest Tucson was in 2012 and was created by Lorna Soroko, a Jack and Vivian Hanson Arizona Film Institute Fellow. The fest provides an opportunity for everyone to work on their pitching skills, regardless of age.

“Pitch Fest is for students, faculty and members of the community,” said Vicky Westover, director of the Hanson Film Institute. “Students come from different disciplines including film and television, theater and creative writing. Ages range from 20s to 60s.” 

The first day of the pitch fest is Friday, when the workshop will take place. According to the official Pitch Fest Tucson website, during the workshop, in addition to teaching participants how to pitch, “teacher[s] will demonstrate pitching techniques and principles with a few volunteer participants’ pitches in the final portion of the workshop.” The workshop generally accepts about 25 participants, and there are always people on the waiting list to get into the event. 

During the second day of the festival, participants will choose three industry professionals to pitch their ideas to, and at least one of their three judges will be chosen from their top three. The pitch is limited to five minutes in length, followed by three minutes of feedback from each industry professional.

The eight industry professionals that will serve as judges are Will Conroy, Susie Hernandez, Victoria Lucas, Matthew Lee Martin, Josh Murphy, Peter Murrieta, Shane Riches and Soroko. Each individual is involved in a different aspect of the film and television industry; therefore, participants choose the three judges based upon their desired facet of the industry.

“The eight judges in total listen to 87 pitches,” Westover said. “At the end of listening to all the pitches, the judges get together for about one hour to deliberate on the first-, second- and third-place winners.” 

The first place winner receives “a formal Skype or in-person (if you get yourself to LA) pitch with Matt Luber, one of L.A.’s top producers,” the website states. Second place wins a 20-minute pitch consultation with an industry professional of their choice, and third place receives a 15-minute consultation. In the first year of the pitch fest, a UA student won, and in the second year, the winner was a member of the community.

“It is very rare that a student or someone living in Tucson would be able to get access to and pitch to a producer or agent from Los Angeles,” Westover said. “Pitching a movie or TV idea or screenplay is not an easy thing to do and it takes practice, and the only way you learn and improve is by doing it.”

The skill of pitching is one of the most important skills for a producer or screenwriter to possess, and Pitch Fest Tucson is an excellent way to build your knowledge and practice.

Pitch Fest Tucson runs this Friday and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. each day. Although registration closed on Feb. 13, aspiring screenwriters or producers should keep this opportunity in mind for next year.

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Follow Chelsea Cook on Twitter.


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