Pitch Perfect at Bloody Scotland 2019
Posted by Robert Craven on Fri, 27 Sep 2019
I am sitting in the front row of The Allan Park Church Hall in Stirling, Scotland. It is nearly 11am. Its nearly showtime. Beside me sit my fellow pitchers for Perfect Pitch 2019; Suzie, Libby, David, Anne, Dave, Elissa and Cheralyn. Selected from seventy submissions earlier this year, we have made it here on a wet Sunday morning from all over the UK and Ireland. We all sent 100 word pitches only, no details, nothing to indicate who we were. Then, three weeks ago, and email arrived from Bloody Scotland director, Bob McDevitt that I had been selected.
I’ve been on the road since 4.45am. Dublin Airport at 5am is a sea of green, Ireland’s International rugby team are playing in the Rugby World cup. A nation is on the move to far-flung Japan, the carparks are full, the airport smells of full Irish breakfasts, tea and coffee. My flight to Glasgow leaves at 6.55am, I am grateful not to have set off every alarm at the security gate. (It’s a regular occurrence when I travel). I run through the pitch one more time. The loose pages are now dog-eared, crumpled and festooned in highlighter. I have my pitch clocking in at two minutes. A punk at heart, this is going to be a Buzzcocks / Ramones mash-up.
Perhaps it’s too short. Is it compelling? Is it interesting? Will it keep the audience’s attention?
I’m met at the airport by two close friends, Ann and Gerald. Gerald has just retired and treated himself to a vintage racing green Jaguar, the 45 minute drive from Glasgow to Stirling is luxury itself. The conversation between the three of us feels like it had never ended. The beauty of Scotland flashes past us; the highlands rise toward the washed out sun in jagged relief. The pale sunlight dapples the valleys. We arrive in Stirling and park beside the statue of William Wallace, aka, Braveheart and walk to the Golden Lion Hotel. Banners promoting the event flutter from the lamp posts. We’re early and settle into the breakfast area, demolishing toast, coffee and tea. Volunteers and authors fill the room with a range of accents from Scottish to the Black Counties, Northern England, Geordie and Londoner. The atmosphere feels tight, but loose. The Green Room opens at 10am and Ann, Gerald and I go our separate ways. They hug me good luck.
The Bloody Scotland Green Room is wood-panelled with two bright chandeliers, evoking a feeling of an old era, long forgotten. Low tables are stocked with books and lanyards. The other authors arrive. Introductions are made, the nerves are palpable. Bob McDevitt and Jenny Brown settle us in. Holly Domney keeps things bubbling along; her enthusiasm is infectious. I’m told by Jennifer I’m the first one on to pitch. She runs this event as a tight ship. Bob gathers us up and walks us toward the Allan Park Church Hall.
Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling straddles the highlands and lowlands, it is a city of stone, situated 26 miles from Glasgow and 37 miles from Edinburgh. The building is an imposing Church of Scotland edifice, the part of the church where the event is being held is a long hall with a stage. Behind the stage curtains, a bright rainbow fills the back wall. The door behind the podium from where we’ll pitch, has pieces of glass missing from the lead panes. You can hear the audience filling the room, you’re too nervous to look over your shoulder.
The venue has a raised dais with four chairs – here the panel will sit. They are flanked either side by mounted TVs and speakers on tripod. To the left, the podium from which we will deliver. To my immediate left sits Matt who will time the pitches, to my right, the PP class of 2019. The panel chaired by Jennifer. Emad Akhtat, Holly Domney, Mark Stanton and Karen Robinson give the audience an overview of what they are looking for – we pitch for 3 minutes, they have 3 minutes to feed back. The tension in the room reaches out to touch your shoulder.
Jennifer announces my name and I rise to pitch The Road of a Thousand Tigers. Two minutes flash by in a heart-beat and I get a huge round of applause. It feels like a huge elastic band has been stretched to breaking point and my pitch has been fired into the rafters.
The panel then gave the feedback which while the blood and adrenaline swirling about my ears is constructive and astute. These are industry professionals who know what the market requires. Then onto the next pitch. The 30 minutes flash past and I am stunned at the quality of the work, we have slaved over hot laptops and A4 pads and each pitch itself, you think 'I'm going to buy that',
The pitches over, the panel move to the room behind the door of missing glass, then unanimously, they pick the winner - Suzy Asply 'One for sorrow'; It was a perfect pitch.
Its hard to explain the feeling, but the PP Class of 2019 are a group who are probably going to remain in touch and I was immernsly privileged to be part of that!
My day ends flying back to Dublin after a two hour delay. Its almost midnight and the flight is full of returning Celtic fans who seem a rowdy bunch, but like me, buzzing. Once the cabin lights dim, we promptly fall asleep and wake up on Dublin Airport's tarmac.