Selling the South in 90 Seconds

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I’m a native Oregonian. I gagged the first time I tried boiled peanuts. When I applied for my first TV job, I honestly couldn’t point out South Carolina from Alabama on a map. And yet here I am, wooing Hollywood execs on Southern Charm. At least my take on it, a la “The Wedding Photographer,” the romantic comedy I started pitching at a festival last weekend in LA. My logline (the three sentences you’d read on the Netflix envelope if it gets made) goes like this:

When his own picture-perfect wedding proposal is rejected, a hip Chicago studio photographer tries to cure himself of romance by shooting a season of weddings in the Deep South. Think hair-of-the-dog, but for saps. He doesn’t count on falling for the one bridesmaid who calls his bluff.

What was a blast was explaining how the script makes you fall in love with the South as much as any one character. I told them that it’s a lushly beautiful setting, quirky and inherently romantic. That nothing matters more than family, tradition and love. Of course I let it slip that when the hero hooks up with the girl  –  skinny-dipping in a tidal creek filled with bioluminescence – it’ll do for this movie generation what “Ghost” did for throwing pots or “Dirty Dancing” did for learning to dance on a log in a lake. The reaction was good – of the 33 producers I pitched, all but three asked for my one-sheet (the faux movie poster by Paul Nurnberg starring Jenny Rone and Todd Wood). Seven asked to read the script right off the bat – which sounds great until I realized I have no idea if they have two dimes to rub together.

You get line blur after about three hours

Those of you who follow this blog know these pitch festivals are like speed dating. Only this one, InkTip, is speed group dating. You stumble around a convention ballroom, squinting up at tiny signs indicating which productions companies are looking for your genre. There are usually three or four companies per table, but of course the one you’re really interested in never shows so you end up pitching to companies you’ve never heard of. My favorites, just going by the crazy names, were Bugeater Films, Clownfish Productions and Purple Octopus Inc. I decided against pitching ShoeZart inc, apparently known for the film “Scorpio Men on Prozac” and Weirdsmobile Productions who wanted Sci-fi in the vein of their other film, “Chastity Bites.” Can’t see either of those wanting to shoot a romantic comedy in Beaufort, can you?

I should have handed out coffee, clearly

One thought on “Selling the South in 90 Seconds

    J Michael Shoemaker said:
    September 12, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    I just stumbled across this article and I must say it gave me a huge laugh. To be more specific, this passage gave me a laugh out loud moment of my life. “I decided against pitching ShoeZart inc, apparently known for the film “Scorpio Men on Prozac” and Weirdsmobile Productions who wanted Sci-fi in the vein of their other film, “Chastity Bites.” Can’t see either of those wanting to shoot a romantic comedy in Beaufort, can you?”

    I mean really? What were the odds that the owner of ShoeZart, Inc. was born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, where his family has been for generations, and was at the InkTip event looking for a project that could be shot in Beaufort, S.C.? I mean really, what were the odds? I wouldn’t bother with them now though… They don’t have two dimes to rub together. This real life event reminds me of one of those romantic movies where the two people that should be together never meet.

    Like

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