UPDATED: The 2012 Just For Laughs comedy festival and Comedy Conference are under way in Montreal right now and Scott Goodyer, who wrote this article, is there shooting for CTV, so we thought we'd bring back some of the stellar advice he shared from a previous festival year.
The 2011 Just For Laughs Comedy festival is fast approaching and for the fourth year the festival is simultaneously hosting their annual Comedy Conference where top film and television execs and insiders share the secrets to their success in a series of panels.
I smuggled out some of the best advice offered up from last year's conference…
From the film bootcamp session, featuring (as seen above from left) Kit Giordano (Creative Executive, Red Hour Films), Kirsten Smith (Writer/Producer, 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth), Joe Medjuk (Executive Producer, Montecito Picture Company) and David Milner (Producer/Executive, 3Arts Entertainment) here are the top 5 tips for pitching your comedy movie:
1. Get paid – You could lock yourself away in a tiny garrett and live on Ramen noodles while you pen your masterpiece but a lot of writers think spec is for suckers. Pitch the idea – not the completed script- and you could actually get paid to write.
2. Pimp yourself – This is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments or experience. This is the time to convince people that you are actually capable of executing what you propose to do, so by all means toot your own horn and make them have faith in you.
3. Keep it snappy – pitch meetings with studio execs or production companies are generally 25 minutes or less. In that time you need to communicate the theme and tone, the story arc, principle relationships, maybe a few key actors who'd be perfect for the part and some killer moments or lines. Make sure it's all killer, no filler, but still know your story and characters well so that if they ask you a question, you can elaborate with ease.
4. Be original – Apparently The Hangover was a movie no one wanted to make for a long time. But once it was made, everyone wanted another one or some reasonable facsimile. That's just how the business is. But what film execs are really looking for is a new idea and a new story from a unique perspective.
5. Cry – The purpose of a pitch meeting is to make people fans of your project, so excellent storytelling is crucial. Good pitchers have been known to laugh, cry and do whatever it takes to engage the people in the room as they take them through the ups and downs of their story. If someone is a funny person, execs believe that they'll produce a funny script. So, if you haven't got the chops, consider pairing up with someone who does.
The Just For Laughs Festival has show dates throughout the month of July, with a concentrated schedule in Montreal from July 27-30. The Comedy Conference runs from July 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency Montreal. Industry members can register here but the conference also offers a very affordable Comicpro Pass for comedy fans and hopefuls.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the comedy industry you wanted answered, post them in the comments section below and we'll hook you up with answers.