IT'S THE REEL THING

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Anyone who's seen Robert Altman's The Player will have relished the spectacle of Graduate screenwriter Buck Henry pitching an idea for The Graduate 2 in which a bed-ridden Mrs Robinson moves in with Benjamin and Elaine. The satire holds true wherever there's a film industry, and in Britain there's no shortage of similar desperados and visionaries, all looking for the millions to turn their pitch into a picture. This week, screenwriting hopefuls get a chance to swim with the sharks at Live! Ammunition, Raindance's annual bear pit, which invites anyone with an idea for a movie to stand up and dazzle a panel of industry professionals - this year headed by independent film guru Dov S-S Simens, the man who taught young pretenders Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino. "He's an ex-green beret," explains organiser Jamie Greco, "so he'll say exactly what he thinks of people's ideas. It can get quite brutal. You only get 120-seconds and if you're incoherent or boring you get bonged off.

The wonderfully named Aron Paramor, who was a runner-up last year was surpised by the reticent worthiness of some contenders. "I think I did well because I didn't pitch something about Ethiopian basket-weaving," he ponders. "My film is about Alistair Crowley, the drug-fiend and satanist. The women on the panel tried to slag it off, but Stephen Woolley lapped it up."

According to Paramor, there were plenty of people there who "didn't have any noddle about showbusiness. There were these teachers standing up as if they were at a poetry reading and saying `This-is-a-story-about-a- woman-who-got-on-a-bus'. When I heard that I threw my notes away, because they don't want to know about the story, they want you to sell them the concept. It's like selling a car - you don't go on about the gaskets, you talk about the design, engines, things like that."

Paramor who has played "Robbie's doctor" in EastEnders and can be glimpsed as "the evil alien who blows up the space station" in The Fifth Element is still working on his script but, in the meantime, he's just starred in Raindance's own "no-budget" film, a 35mm-feature shot largely in Conran's Mezzo cafe about, surprise, surprise, a film producer trying to get a movie made - who ever said the British film industry was a navel-gazing clique of Wardour Street narcissists. LS

Live! Ammunition, Limelight, Shaftesbury Ave, London W1. Thur 26 Jun. Admission pounds 19.99, including free tequila. Pitching on first-come-first- served basis

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