By and © Justin Zimmerman
2. So What?
You have an idea. Hopefully a couple. Where to start? Before anything else, before we talk about form or function or timeline or anything, let’s cut to the chase…
Yes, obviously you do, but unless you want to sit in your basement in your underwear surrounded by “art” only you will ever see, your idea HAS to matter to others. Hopefully, many, many others.
(I’ll admit that this basement / underwear scenario sounds kind of interesting, though I’ve never tried it. That said, there are definitely folders upon folders of projects in my filing cabinet that will never see the light of day. Someday, when this world has completely broken me, perhaps I will try this unlikely experiment…and they will find me wasted away on top of a paper ocean of my lost words and ideas.)
Anyway, another way to look at the relevance of your idea in terms of project application is SO WHAT? Can you answer those two questions? Great. It’s a start. Now, you’re going to need to ask everyone you know.
Two sentences, maybe three. Identify the characters, the plot, what’s at stake, the engine of the story, yadda yadda yadda. Practice this. Hone it. Make it precise. In front of the mirror, in the basement, in the bathroom, and eventually, sooner than later, in front of real, living, breathing PEOPLE.
Yes, it has to be that short. This breaks your idea down into its relevant pieces and allows you to identify strengths and weaknesses immediately.
When you submit your film to film festivals, they want a pitch. When someone asks you what your book is about at a comic convention, they want a pitch. When a Hollywood producer looks at you over a sun-drenched LA table, they want a pitch.
But we’re not there yet. You’re not done. You’re just starting. So get out there and deliver your idea until it’s as sharp as it can be.
But there’s a tinge in the back of your head. A little alarm going off. You’re not supposed to share your ideas. They’re precious. To be guarded. Safe. Safe from thievery, ridicule, mockery and the like.
I hear that noise too, and you know what? I tell it to shut the f@#$ up. This process is about sharing with others. It’s about creating something and letting it go. You’re not going to be able to baby-sit it, explain it away and make excuses for it when it’s a finished product, so deal with that fact NOW. And if you can’t trust your friends and families with your precious idea, go find a stranger in your local greasy spoon. Buy ‘em some breakfast. And go for it!
Oh, real world application? Okay. I had an incredible cool student, Sean, who hated pitching. HATED IT. Not in the way some students did – he didn’t faint or cry – but he despised the process. But he practiced. And he got better. And then he went out into the world as all students do, and I didn’t hear from him for a while.
But one day, I got a message. Sean’d been working on a documentary about the military and sickness and Agent Orange and his father and he was in a big meeting of veterans in LA and they asked him, suddenly and unexpectedly, to speak. To explain his project to the assembly and to tell them why they should participate.
(So what? Who cares? Right?)
And he got up there and he PITCHED.
And he knocked it out of the park.
Next week I’ll give some specific real world pitch examples coupled with my own work, but for now, go practice!
New albums I’m listening to on repeat:
You can find my print work for sale here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BrickerDown
You can see my shorter film work for free here: http://www.youtube.com/zimfilm
Stay out of trouble,