University of Arizona alumni and other film and television experts, together with the Hanson Film Institute and the Tucson Film Office, are offering an opportunity to learn how to pitch entertainment story ideas to industry professionals.
UA alumni Dennis Leoni, president of Mirador Entertainment, and Josh Murphy, manager of development at Pilgrim Studios, are among a group of producers and development executives who will judge and award prizes to the top three pitches heard during events to be held April 20-21.
The first event, the Art of the Pitch, is a workshop taking place April 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. that will teach participants how to pitch ideas to industry professionals. Attendees will then display their newly-honed skills at the Tucson Pitch Fest the following day.
The Tucson Pitch Fest takes place on Saturday, April 21 from 1 to 4 p.m., and provides the opportunity to meet one-on-one with UA and other entertainment industry professionals – who will listen to pitches and provide feedback.
The events will take place at the UA, but participants must register.
"Never read a pitch and always be captivating while giving the pitch," said the Art of the Pitch workshop instructor Lorna Soroko.
She is a writer, producer and former vice president of development for a TV production company affiliated with Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox. She began her career as an entertainment attorney.
During the workshop Soroko will teach participants how to create a logline, a one-sentence summary of the story being pitched, and will share the biggest pitfalls and most valuable tips on how to make the pitch to the industry judges successful.
The top three pitches, to be judged in private by the professionals, will win prizes.
Soroko said the UA and surrounding community was chosen to host Pitch Fest because of the University's great film and TV program.
"The UA alumni who will serve as judges agreed to participate primarily because of the value they place in their education at the UA and the Hanson Film Institute, and their commitment to give back to the community," said Soroko.
There will be five industry executive judges:
- Deborah Leoni is a writer, producer, former vice president at ABC and a former producing partner with George Clooney. She has developed hundreds of television pilot and movie scripts and currently runs Flagstaff Pictures, where she is developing and producing movies and pilots for HBO, Showtime, Disney and TNT.
- UA alumnus Dennis Leoni is president of Mirador Entertainment, where he is developing and producing TV and web series and features. He is an award-winning executive producer, writer and director. Leoni created Showtime's "Resurrection Blvd.," the longest running Latino dramatic series.
- Victoria Lucas has 20 years of experience as a development and production executive at major studios and independent film companies. She has developed and produced diverse award-winning projects such as "The Island on Bird Street" and "The Black Dahlia."
- UA alumnus Josh Murphy is manager of development at Pilgrim Studios, where he develops non-scripted TV programming. He was formerly director of development for feature film and TV projects at Drew Barrymore's production company, Flower Films.
- Shane Riches is a film and TV writer and producer. He also writes and publishes graphic novels, including "R.P.M," with bestselling author Mick Foley. He has film and TV projects in development at Disney, MTV, SyFy, Paramount and Dimension. He is currently a producer in residence at the UA.
Pitch Fest is planned to be an annual event that is open to both the UA and surrounding community.