Thursday, 13 September 2012

Stripping the Pitch

Nick drapes a friendly arm around my shoulders.

"Don't worry," he says, walking me through the grubby door. "The first time's always the worst."

Dark rickety stairs lead down into a small bright room crammed with people.

Nick pushes me through the crowd. I bump into a girl, her eyes dart up from her manuscript, flash contempt then return to the text. She begins whispering the same line over and over.

"...Blade Runner meets Harry Potter..."

"Here we are," Nick waves an old man from a seat and shoves me into it. "So you're all set?"

"Yeah, I think so," I reply, looking back to the girl. she's biting her lip, every finger is crossed.

Nick leans back against the wall, letting his head thunk against it.

"Look, Mark, there's no 'think so' about it. If you aren't ready they'll eat you alive."

A man with a clipboard waves at the girl and leads her through a curtain. Seconds later I hear muffled cheering.

The old man who Nick has moved is standing next to me muttering.

"...Star Wars with mice..."

"It can't be that bad," I say, but my whole body disagrees.

The curtain pulls back and the man with the clipboard waves at Nick.

"You'll be fine," Nick drags me to my feet. "Just don't let them rattle you."

The man with a clipboard looks me up and down.

"First time?"

"Yeah."

"Well, it's a big crowd tonight, just remember that's a good thing."

He holds the curtain aside and I walk out and squint against the bright lights. I'm on a tiny stage, only room for me and the sharp drop. Through the lights I can make out dozens of eyes staring up at me through the smoke and booze fumes.

The cheering starts. It knocks me back and I turn trying to find the man with the clipboard.

"What do I..."
Someone whistles, others start banging tables.

"SHOW US YOUR PITCH!"

I turn back.

"Look, I..."

"PITCH! PITCH! PITCH! PITCH!" the crowd cry out.

I freeze. The cries continue, someone throws a slice of lemon at me. It smells of gin.

I close my eyes, breathe and pitch.

"Oh, look at the hook on that."

"Yeah but the synopsis sags in the middle badly."

"Great voice."

"Not sure about the title."

I finish, and open my eyes. I'm no longer on the stage but in an alley. Nick is nowhere to be seen. Someone sniffs behind a bin and I see the girl, tears streaking her cheeks and manuscript.

A large shiny car pulls up at the end of the alley, one of the rear doors opens.

I climb in.