As you may or may not know, recently my TV concept Endgame was a finalist in the AACTA Elevate Pitch competition. This in and of itself is a big deal; the winner gets some development support and the prestige of the AACTA name on their project, but every finalist gets to pitch onstage in Sydney in front of an audience of industry people. So, first thing Saturday, producer/friend Dan Nixon and I were flown up to Sydney to basically try and sell the show.
I was not prepared. It’s been a busy time and to be honest, the Endgame pitch was at the back of my mind. I kept trying to make myself rehearse or even write out what I was going to say, but other things kept getting in the way and so I got on the plane Saturday morning with only the vaguest notion of what I was going to do.
The moment we arrived at the Factory Theatre reality started to set in and so Dan and I ran through our pitch again and again. We only had two minutes to convey what was special about the show, but pretty quickly we settled on a pitch that felt right, engaging. Not that that in any way assuaged nerves as the clock ticked down and two really great pitches preceded us.
We didn’t win, but given how deserving the pitch that did was, how clearly the creator understood her product and how perfectly she articulated her ideas, it was hard to be too upset about that. In the end I think we did well. We got laughs in the right places and plenty of people approached us afterwards to congratulate us on the pitch, give us their details and ask to know more about the project. It was thrilling enough just to be there and to see how much potential and marketability Endgame really has. For the project, it was a super energising experience and leaves me excited to see where it can go next.
Sunday was pleasantly lazy; Dan and I wandered around the city, had breakfast overlooking the sunny harbour, browsed bookshops and drank beer at the Rocks before Dan headed off for his flight home, leaving me alone and ready to take Sydney by storm. By which I mean I drank Guinness and did some writing at the Irish pub near my hotel before being in bed by 8:30.
The reason I was sticking around longer than Dan was because I had organised to have lunch with my agents Tara and Jerry on Monday. These are the two people responsible for changing my life almost overnight; Tara having sold the book rights to The Hunted and Jerry, visiting from LA, the one who sold the film. It was the first time I had met Jerry and it was great to be able to chat in person over lunch, to try and fail once again to adequately convey just how grateful I am to these two people.
The AACTA pitch and the lunch with Tara and Jerry feel, in some ways, symptomatic of the totally different speed my life seems to operate at these days. If you told me a year ago that I would be regularly flying to Sydney for pitches and meetings, that I would be sending emails back and forth with major Hollywood producers and some of the biggest publishers in the world, I would have laughed you off while desperately hoping you were right.
But in some ways the more things change the more they stay the same.
Next week Bitten By Productions’ new show, a revival of my 2016 comedy The Critic, opens at the Butterfly Club for Melbourne Fringe. I’m super excited about this; the cast and director are amazing and the rehearsals I’ve sat in on have been uniformly brilliant. But, of course, independent theatre is independent theatre, by which I mean there’s no money and lots of competition, particularly during Fringe. So my time-honoured techniques of guerrilla marketing come into play; namely spending the day running around the city surreptitiously sticking up posters and leaving flyers in obvious places in the hopes that more people will see them and come to see the play. It’s a very stark difference from being wined and dined by publishers and agents or getting on stage at major industry events.
But this, I guess, is my life now. For all that the most incredible and formerly inconceivable things have happened in the last six months, things just haven’t changed that much on a day to day basis. I still have my old commitments and I still have to trudge around trying to look casual while leaving flyers and posters in places I’m probably not supposed to.
I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Writing words about writing words.