This past weekend I attended the Broadcast Education Association Convention and Festival of Media Arts at the Westgate Resort in Las Vegas. During the fall semester, I studied abroad in Scotland. While there I wrote a script for a short film that I entered into the BEA Festival and won second place in Short Subject Scriptwriting. I travelled to Las Vegas in order to receive my award, network with media professionals, and attend seminars at the conventions.
My first day at the convention started with the awards ceremony, where I had to give a short speech after receiving my honor. I did not know that I would have to do so and I had to think of a few select words on the spot, which is not always my forte. I prefer writing because it gives me time to think and review. The seminar that followed was a Q&A with two Hollywood screenwriters. It was enlightening and encouraging hearing their stories about how they got into screenwriting and the paths they took to break into Hollywood. I was able to ask them whether they believed it is necessary for screenwriters to move to Los Angeles or not in order to have a successful career. They both agreed that it was highly encouraged, if not required, to live in LA to meet people and build relationships and trust with others in the business. This was not the answer I wanted to hear, however, it was the one I expected. It was very valuable to hear get their input about starting a career in screenwriting and it will certainly help me in my decision whether or not to move back to LA after graduation.
The next seminar was a pitch session with the same two writers. I had the opportunity to pitch an idea for a script to them and they provided me with feedback about both the pitch and the story. I pitched them the script for which I won my BEA award. Again, I had to think on my feet and prepare my words quickly and concisely. I started by handing them my resume and cracking a joke, which helped to break the ice. I was surprised by my confidence as I told them my idea. But I am very proud of the script I wrote, so I believed in what I was saying. I am learning that is one key to success. You must be fully invested in your own idea before anyone else will be. This becomes more apparent to me each day, especially as I continue writing and creating comedies. Comedy is so subjective and requires a lot of balance to determine what is funny versus what may just be stupid or crude. I have to believe in my ideas and trust my gut more in comedy than in any other creative endeavor I have attempted in the past. Both screenwriters liked my story a lot and commended me on my pitch. They also gave me a couple suggestions about how I could strengthen my story further. I will definitely go back and apply their notes to my script and keep those thoughts in mind as I continue on future projects.
The next day I went to a seminar about incorporating faith into the filmmaking process. It was a very interesting talk by several professors and filmmakers at Huntington University. They have made several films in the Midwest with big name actors like Tony Hale. I spoke to one of the professors after the seminar, gave him a copy of my resume, took his business card, and told him I would love to be a part of any upcoming films they may be making in the Midwest. I have never “networked” per se, so talking to and handing out my resume to some of the professionals at the BEA this past weekend was great practice for me. It helped me learn tactics for breaking the ice, which feels so overwhelming before you do it, and mustering the confidence to get up and speak about my work in an intelligent way.
To any students considering applying for the BEA Festival next year, my advice is do it! There is no harm in submitting your work. If you win, attending the festival is an invaluable experience for soon-to-be graduates wondering what direction to take. Special thanks to Bearcast and the university for helping fund my trip! #LGUC