Movie Pitch Fiasco at the Austin Film Festival

Jim Picariello at the Pitch Finals - Photo By Arnold Wells

It was going to be my big break.

I was heading to the 2013 Austin Film Festival (AFF) for its infamous screenwriter’s conference. My dream was to 1) rub elbows with my favorite screenwriters, and 2) soar straight to the finals of the elite Pitch Contest — where in 90 seconds I would pitch my screenplay to three, big-time movie producers (including Lindsay Doran), to the roar of applause from over 500 peers.

And I did it all. I even got the roaring applause.

Yet it all went so… so… painfully wrong. And the Pitch Finals went wrong in such a manner that would be considered impossibleContinue reading

The Time I Was Recruited into a Cult

My black tux was a rental. Ali borrowed a pale, blue dress that accentuated her angular Scandinavian features and short, dirty blond hair. We never had occasion to get dressed up for anything, and we had never ventured beyond Olive-Garden-grade restaurants. But there we sat, at a large table, surrounded by about three hundred women and men dressed in gowns and tuxes, in a five-star Westchester, New York restaurant. The place was lit by the glow of a million white Christmas lights, strung over the vast dining room’s low, sloped ceiling.

The excitement was palpable and the people were fascinating. Doctors, lawyers, businesspeople—they’d all inexplicably, and somewhat recently, decided to become computer programmers. As a senior in college, finishing off a questionable combined degree in philosophy and music studio recording at a small state college, I found their professional life-choices bold and impressive on a number of levels.

I finished the last sips of what was the best cup of gourmet coffee I ever had when he strode into the room. Continue reading

Demons Exist

Jill got off the phone with our realtor and told me that the two little girls moving out of our new house in York, Maine, have a bunny and they wondered if we wanted it. I immediately pictured a future with two little girls of our own, running barefoot around the thick backyard grass, laughing and skipping around this bunny, while it sat chomping on a cartoon-orange carrot, fresh picked from our perfect, little garden.

I imagined this as I looked through the smeared window to our Boston apartment’s 140 square-feet patch of browned grass—an abysmal plot of earth abutting our neighbor’s enormous, blacktopped backyard, on which sat a chained, constantly-barking dog. Cue the booming sounds of our upstairs neighbor: a twelve-foot tall man who, we joked, must relish apartment-bowling, rearranging large furniture, and Irish folk dancing. Continue reading

Maypole Viagra

Jill and I moved from Boston to coastal, rural Maine to get away from it all. We wanted a simple, quiet lifestyle, where we could grow our own food and be surrounded by blueberry covered mountains which roll into the island-dotted ocean. Twelve years later we realized we’re not the hard working, back-to-the-landers we thought we were, and we’ve learned why Maine is “The Vacation State” and not the “You-Should-Really-Live-Here-All-Year-Long State.”

Let’s just say, when you move somewhere to get away from it all, you end up not near much. Continue reading