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Radio-TV-Film Green Honors Chair

Invite campus Hollywood producer Kurt Inderbitzen, the Green Honors Chair for radio-TV-film, and he just might bring Hollywood with him

The Hollywood Pitch

An original screenplay by David Van Meter


Overhead, a camera pans the TCU campus, slowly descending to the Moudy Building.


We see to our left five or six students lounging in the Moudy Building's "green room." They sit a little closer than they normally would, dressed a little nicer.

VOICE (off camera): "Okay, you're up..."

The first student stands and walks across the foyer to a room labeled Moudy 156, an apprehensive smile frozen on his face.


The smallish room contains about 25 observers. At the front is an elevated platform used for classroom lectures. Two chairs face each other. In one chair sits Kurt Inderbitzen, the Green Honors chair selection for the radio-TV-film department and the president of Abandon Television. A hand-waving, fast-talking sort, Inderbitzen's producer credits include a string of made-for-TV movies, including The Crosby Story. His 1996 work, Abducted: A Father's Love, was NBC's highest-rated movie ever. And the night before, students screened Inderbitzen's latest work, Time Shifters, about people who travel back in time to participate in historical events.

The first of six students sits down opposite Inderbitzen.

INDERBITZEN: "So, tell me about yourself."

The camera now records each student in fast-forward fashion, at the point each tells Inderbitzen about their background. A poem published in a church newsletter. A year's worth of writing samples. A single writing class.

INDERBITZEN: "Great. Okay, what's your screenplay about?"

One student tells the story of a man, scorned by love before, visiting his past relationships in flashbacks, ultimately finding love right under his nose . . . A Japanese immigrant makes friends with an American because -- though neither speaks the other's language -- they both are huge Star Trek fans and speak Klingon . . . Two girls, one rich and one poor.

The climax is a school dance, where the poor girl's quest for popularity and material status through the rich girl leaves her friendless and empty. Inderbitzen politely listens to each student for the first few minutes and then begins interrupting, as none of the students gets his or her point across quickly enough for Hollywood. The camera now focuses on his facial expressions and responses.

INDERBITZEN: "Okay, I don't get it. What is this guy doing, just sitting in a room talking? That could be boring. . . . I still don't get it, how does the Japanese guy meet the American girl? They're both at the same seminar or what? . . . . A school dance? How are we going to film that on this budget?"

Minute hand ticks five times.


INDERBITZEN: "To be harsh, shame on you. With this budget you have, you can't do more than two locations in a day. C'mon, you should know better. You really have to be harder on yourselves or be more inventive."

Camera pans to six students who now sit, shell-shocked, together. Slowly, it moves across their faces as Inderbitzen speaks.

INDERBITZEN: "I'm going to tell you the hardest thing about writing for screenplays. And it probably won't matter because you have to learn it and feel it at a very deep level: You must always, always have your theme in mind. What is my movie about? Then as you write every line of prose and build every scene, always have that theme in the back of your mind. It should influence every page, every scene and every line of dialogue.

"That is how average movies become great. If you can remember that, you can save yourself seven years of writing stuff that doesn't connect with your audience."


Radio-TV-film senior Melissa Triebwasser lies on her stomach across her dorm room bed and is in the middle of a phone conversation. Nearby is a marked-up screenplay titiled All Fall Down. Dozens of older revisions lie scattered. She crumples a written phone message from a reporter between her fingers as she returns the call.

TRIEBWASSER: "None of us had ever pitched a screenplay, so I think we were all extremely nervous. Kurt is this big Hollywood guy, he's high energy, he's so Hollywood, so L.A. "I've been writing screenplays for a year ╔. It enables you to take nothing, take space, and make characters that have personalities, conflicts and resolutions. It allows you to say things you would never share in a face-to-face conversation. Only by putting it on paper can you release it."


Radio-TV-Film Prof. Roger Cooper cuts open an envelope and opens the enclosed letter from Abandon Entertainment, Inderbitzen's entertainment company.


"Dear Roger, let's start with your students . . . . In the Aesthetics of Film class I taught while on the TCU campus, my own stubborn mind was pried open by their startling good ideas about how to improve a scene in a show I myself had worked on. "During the ďpitch' sessions for the short film, I found myself having to reject students who were, to put it bluntly, better prepared (and perhaps more able) than many experienced directors and producers I have met with out here [in Los Angeles].

"If you had been running my school when I was a college student, I would have spent a lot more time in class than learning to spin a basketball on my finger ... which I must say I now do rather well."


In a dark room, a single projector whirs to life. A film begins, the title credit, All Fall Down, scrolling across.

VOICE OVER: Before Kurt Interbitzen left the TCU campus, he selected junior Darren Thiesfeld to direct and senior Rebecca Wren to produce the screenplay, All Fall Down. A budget production under $1,000, it was taped during the first summer term in late May.

Shortly after the film, Melissa Triebwasser graduated and moved to Los Angeles.