"She cannot talk. If there's something urgent she has to tell her mother, she has to find her voice to deliver that message. That's cool, exciting, kind of a psychological thriller," Kettner said. But "if it's just to say, 'I love you, mom' or 'I don't love you, mom,' then it's not enough of a story to get somebody to write a check for."
After the practice pitch period ended, Rivers and Adams mulled over their options. He paced at the side of the recreation room. She sat slumped in a chair near the corner. Both wondered if their movie proposals could be tweaked before the story-buying producers showed up for the event's second half.
"People start getting killed as soon as the demon creatures get unleashed. As soon as they hit the hotel lobby, they start eating guests and doing horrible things," Rivers said. "Do I want it to be a really dark kind of movie where I can kill off those characters and have those consequences, or do I want it to be more of a family-friendly movie?"
Adams was in her own quandary.
"I realize now that one of my main characters in the story I've been working on for years does not have a concrete obstacle and a concrete destination," she shrugged.
By the time the producers arrived, Rivers had come up with an easy way out of his dilemma. He bumped up the age of the girl who is his lead character from 13 to 18 so she would appeal to an older audience. A second change was easier still.
"I switched from calling it a 'fantasy adventure' to calling it a 'fantasy thriller,' " he said.
Several of the professionals voiced an interest in Rivers' work, as they did with several other Boston students' stories. Adams did not get a nibble.
"There's a little disappointment since I've been working on my story a long time," Adams said.
"I love to write. But I'm a talented actor, a good singer. I can go a lot of different directions. This is a learning experience."
That's character development.