Torrey Pines alum recognized at Austin Film Festival competition


Recent Chapman University graduate and Torrey Pines High School alum Jacqueline Fisher was a finalist in the Austin Film Festival’s second annual Virtual Pitch Competition

Jacqueline Fisher
Jacqueline Fisher

“You have to rehearse quite a bit, but I liked that everyone was given the same amount of time, and so there’s only so much they’re going to know about your show or film or whatever you’re pitching,” said Fisher, who completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in screenwriting and minor in entrepreneurship at Chapman. “So it gave everyone an equal chance.”

Fisher pitched a pilot for a 30-minute television comedy called “Grin & Bear It,” a project that previously made her a quarter-finalist for the Inroads Screenwriting Fellowship.

“It’s about a recovering addict and former child star when she decides she needs to kickstart her failing career,” Fisher said. “She gives her mom one last chance as her manager, enlisting the help of her ditzy best friend and Oscar-winning grandmother.”

The organizers of the Austin Film Festival Virtual Pitch Competition asked participants to create and record a 90-second video pitch about the scripts they submitted. Finalists had a chance to make live, virtual pitches in front of three judges, who are typically managers, producers or other industry pros. At least six winners will receive a one-on-one video conferencing call with one of the judges to further discuss their submissions, according to the event’s website.

“The nice thing about it was that they have our script attached to the pitch as well, so now when they read the script they have a face to the name,” said Fisher, who won Best Comedy Screenplay for another one of her scripts, “Tight-Lipped,” at the Austin Micro Short Film Festival in September 2020.

The Austin Film Festival holds a wide array of other events and professional development opportunities for writers.

“It’s hard, this profession,” Fisher said. “I think people either have an idealized version of how hard it is to enter the entertainment industry or they know how hard it is and are a bit jaded. But I feel like because of the pandemic, there have been more opportunities for writers with these virtual pitchfests. There are competitions, there are online writers rooms that you can join to meet other people and network. So in some ways I feel like there are more opportunities in the current climate we’re in.”

Some of the work that has influenced her include “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Ally McBeal” and “Jerry Maguire.”

“I feel like as long as you are passionate about what you’re doing and stay true to your craft, then eventually, because it does take a long time in this industry, you will see the results,” Fisher said.