Tuesday, May 22, 2007



The first
On The Lot (OTL) was a good show! As many people predicted, it follows the template of other competition shows and, among other things, spends more airtime showing the bad tries than celebrating the good ones.
Still, there is no doubt from the judging they showed, that this is a tough competition to pick a versatile and skilled filmmaker. Indeed, almost without warning (though they might have guessed something like this would be thrown at them), the contestants immediately faced two difficult, grueling tasks -- the first, to create overnight, and then deliver, a pitch for a feature film; the second to create, in twenty four hours, with a team of three competing directors (coopetition as a test), a 2 1/2 minute film. Anyone who can do these two tasks well is already proven to be extremely skilled.

The rest of the competition, making a dozen or so additional short films, one a week, that the public will like, is a severe test of filmmaking ability. Whatever mishaps the show's editors and producers may choose to show on TV, the contest itself is very, very real and a great test of directing expertise, agility and versatility.

Meanwhile, the Pitch Game could replace charades and other improvs as a parlor game.

Here's the non-competitive version: Sitting in a circle, one person throws out a log line (that's the theme or basic idea). The next person tells the first scene in a sentence or two. Each person in turn then adds a scene. The tenth person (or -- coming full circle-- the first person, if there are around 10 people in the group), then wraps up the movie pitch with a great ending.

The competitive version of the Pitch Game has a bunch of log lines thrown into a hat. Each person takes a random log line and has about 20 min to make a story for a movie out of it. They deliver the pitch to the group. Each person in the group votes with points for story, beginning, ending, characters, confidence, and overall impression. At the end, each person's score is added up to create a winner. With 20 minutes instead of all night to create the story, this is even harder than the OTL version, except you are not pitching to Garry Marshall, Brett Ratner and Princess Leia, you are not pitching for your future, and you don't have to stay up all night worrying.

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