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C.C.Baxter
09-10-2009, 05:05 PM
My friend Michele (25 years as an agent; $1 mill sales to her credit) sent me this article for my blog. Some good info! She has a book coming out next year.

SOCIALIZING! by Michele Wallerstein Screenplay & Novel Consultant email: novelconsult@sbcglobal.net

Socializing is an extension of Networking, but is not the same thing. It goes the next step in helping to ensure a longer life in professional writing. Working in Hollywood is not only about the quality of your work, but is about living in the entertainment community. You will need to become a friend and social connection with others who also live in the world of movies and television.

Networking is your first connection with the people who can give you a hand when you begin that long trek through the labyrinth that will hopefully lead you through the ubiquitous closed doors of show business. Socializing gives you the potential of establishing relationships with the Tinseltown folks who are necessary to your future. They also love the business just as you do.

You might think that writing well and even having a hit movie out is enough. Not a chance folks. One-hit wonders are a dime a dozen in every business. If you want to have staying power you'll need friends who will open doors and give you the benefit of their knowledge and connections. Industry insiders spend an inordinate amount of time at activities that look like simple socializing interactions. The truth is that they are always working. Executives have breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner meetings. They attend dinner parties, galas, award ceremonies, cocktail parties and screenings. Personally, I often found these events both physically and emotionally draining because while they looked glamorous and fun, they were really hard work. For example the person you are talking to may be looking over your shoulder to see who else they want to talk with. The person you want to talk with is too difficult to get close to or too busy with others. The hours are late and it's been a long, long day. The ''phonies'' are all over the place and vying for your attention.

The good news is that you may run into someone who is interested in you or your project or your clients. You might meet some industry executive that you really like and will work with extensively in the future. There are endless good things that can and often do happen at these events. So, we go and go and go to as many as possible.

For writers, socializing is a combination of hanging out and going out. If you meet someone in the business that you like, you might have to make the first move and see if they want to meet for coffee or lunch. If you have the ability to throw dinner or drinks parties, then you must do so. I've found that mixing people who are in and out of the business is not a very good idea. People tend to want to talk to others in the same or similar fields of endeavor. Show business people talk in show business. That's our language, that's where we are comfortable and that's the subject that interests us the most.

Earlier in this book I mentioned that I often orchestrated dinner parties and lunches so that my clients could meet with buyers. Not every agent does this, but it's a good idea to ask your agent to try to put you together socially with development executives and producers. These are the people that you will need. Whenever you are able to attend some social event you must never drink too much, talk too much or do drugs and this applies to your date or spouse who might be attending with you. This will be remembered and you will never be trusted. Certainly you will never be trusted with a writing assignment.

When you are lucky enough to attend events you will need to mention your projects. Don't be shy about it. Everyone will want to hear about them and to put their two cents in on the creative aspects or salability of those projects. Occasionally these folks will discuss their skiing vacations or their personal lives, but not much. We all want to talk about our projects and to hear about others. Ask those questions about their work, the company and their favorite films and they will become your best friend. I don't mean to tell you to befriend people that you don't like. You will find there are plenty of those lurking about and you don't need to pursue them. Find people that you enjoy and simply pursue a friendship. Remember that in business just like in childhood, it's always good to use the buddy system.

I've met some of my best business friends at the aforementioned events and it has made my life easier and much more pleasant. I ask about their children and spouses, their parents and their favorite books. These are effortless ways to begin what could be very fortuitous associations.

Always keep in mind that you might be able to help someone else while you are looking for people to help you. As a writer you might have meetings where you find out information about job openings for development executives or what new projects are being developed. These are not secrets and if you share the information the recipients will ''owe you one''.

All of the above presupposes that you live in Los Angeles or its environs. Obviously, if you are living somewhere that is far from the action it will be nearly impossible for you to socialize in a meaningful way. There's always Facebook and Twitter.

It's always possible to have a script optioned if you live anywhere. The continuation of a writing career means that you must be able to reach out and touch the right people. A writing career is not defined by selling (optioning) screenplays. A writing career means meetings, writing assignments, pitching to studio executives and to producers or development execs. It means building a foundation with your agent and others in your working world. It means getting rewrite jobs and development jobs. These are the things that will keep you in front of the pack.

For writers socializing is more difficult than writing. I understand that these pointers are hard for you to consider and even harder to do.

So get off your duffs and call someone.

Ravenlocks
09-10-2009, 05:43 PM
I've always hated the term "networking" because to me it implies you're only trying to find people who can do things for you, not people you actually like or want to spend time with. So I don't network. Now I can't socialize either? :eek:

DavidK
09-11-2009, 03:43 PM
For some reason, so many people who jump on the 'How To' books bandwagon write as if they are being paid by the word. And much of what they write doesn't pass the 'So what?" test. In this case the author could simply have said that the best way to make networking effective is to also socialize. Anyone who needs to read an essay on how to socialize is probably not equipped to do so.

What Michele fails to point out is that in the industry there are plenty of very successful networkers and socializers who are quite inept and ineffectual in their chosen specialty, be it writing or something else. So selling one's work is what defines it as a career as opposed to a hobby or obsession. The rest - networking and socializing - is usually useful and often valuable, but it's also optional.

I know, sometimes I sound like Josh Olson.

Bunker
09-11-2009, 05:07 PM
Essays like this distort how networking really works in this town. Hollywood clubs, bars, and coffee shops are filled with people doing what they think is "networking" - being hip, being gregarious, being Type-A... but only to the people they think will help their career immediately. Then, the first opening they get, they force upon people their script, email, phone number, and a Facebook friend request. These young guns ignore everyone else.

And what happens? The exec smiles and laughs along and then walks away whispering, "Ugh. Who the hell was that guy?"

Real networking takes place this way:

1. Get a job in the industry, whether as an assistant or PA or other low-dweller. This will put you around industry people on a professional level instead of being another kid in a bar.

2. Be nice to EVERYONE. Make legitimate friends.

3. Kick ass at your job. Be professional, responsible, and dependable.

4. Make it clear that you're a writer. You're not in town to be a career PA. You're a writer. But DON'T force your scripts on anyone. Although you should drop your genre and your awesome loglines often.

5. Wait. Wait for years. All the while, keep up with the cold queries and the writing and the self-promotion. But don't worry about your networking. If you've done all the steps, the real networking will take care of itself.


Then one day, a friend will know someone who knows someone who's looking for a script like yours. Or a friend's cousin is being promoted from assistant to agent and is looking for new clients. You never know. But you've baited enough hooks that perhaps someone will finally bite.

The point is, you can't walk into LA like a shark looking for someone who's going to make your career. Real networking takes time and will pay off in the strangest, most obscure ways.

DavidK
09-12-2009, 04:30 AM
Bunker I totally agree with you. Networking/socializing isn't about sycophantic opportunism, it's about establishing and nurturing long-term professional relationships. And while it might seem impossible there are people who do that successfully without going to any cocktail parties. (Not that there's anything wrong with cocktail parties.)

C.C.Baxter
09-12-2009, 08:11 AM
Bunker I totally agree with you. Networking/socializing isn't about sycophantic opportunism, it's about establishing and nurturing long-term professional relationships. And while it might seem impossible there are people who do that successfully without going to any cocktail parties. (Not that there's anything wrong with cocktail parties.)

Agree. The recent article "I don't want to read your ****ing script" shows the awkward position you put someone in requesting a script read off the bat. Establish a friendship first and hold off on the hard sell.

Remember hearing a story from the Gary Goldstein mentorship program. A writer there was a published non-fiction author. After hearing a top pro speak and mention he had a lot of articles/blogs but no book available she offered to help him organize the material. As a result he later offered to forward her script to a top producer. Mutually beneficial relationship started from her offering her help first.

Michele has a book coming out next year, btw. So many books out there by writers. Good to hear from an agent what it takes to actually get a sale.

Telly
09-12-2009, 08:39 AM
Bunker is spot on.

When I first moved here I tried to "network" at bars and realized how dumb that was quickly. No one wants to hear a stranger chatting up how much he wants to be a successful writer when they are trying to wind down at a bar. Not to mention the people that can help you are usually not even at the bar, they are home, tired from busting their ass all week. What you end up meeting is other waiters just like you.

I hunted down TV PA, and small film crew gigs and everything changed. I busted my ass and made friends. Everyone knew my aspirations to write. What happens is, you end up at all the real parties, the ones where the AD has a birthday and the crew is invited, along with producers, etc. You walk in as a trusted friend or even working acquaintance, but people are willing to talk to you and better yet, get to know you.

You can chat up your aspirations at work, but I avoided it because I knew these get togethers and outside functions would eventually happen, and they did. No one wants to invite the douche that talks about being the next big writer at work all the time, so if you do land a PA or industry gig, don't chat it up at work. Chill out and the time will come.

Most people do not know how to network because they are socially retarded. That's a major element many folks forget when complaining that it never works. It's usually because you come off either arrogant or inept. Slow down, meet people at work and things will unfold. Nothing happens without your own diligent writing efforts but this is one way to find a solid support system.

One note, I NEVER asked a co-worker to read a script. However if one of my scripts ever came up, I'd talk about the idea and usually one or two would say, sounds cool, shoot it to me. That's how you "network".

Good luck :)

Telly
09-12-2009, 09:26 AM
Real networking takes time and will pay off in the strangest, most obscure ways.

One more note. After those years of real networking that I just mentioned the only networking that made a difference was by chance. My kids were in a basketball league and one day at practice another dad struck up a conversation with me. We ended up going out to lunch and really hitting it off, because we both loved sports and our kids. His name was Billy. Finally the topic of work came up over tacos one day. He asked me what I did, I told him I was a writer. He laughed and said, me too. I had just made friends with Billy Ray.

Later, he helped me secure my agent at ICM. I never once asked him to read my work, but we became friends and he offered his help. Billy Ray is a true class act. Again, real networking.

Good luck.

Ernie Santamaria
09-12-2009, 12:52 PM
... I had just made friends with Billy Ray.

Later, he helped me secure my agent at ICM. I never once asked him to read my work, but we became friends and he offered his help.
------------------------------------------------
Just curious, Telly. I completely understand that commendably, you never asked him to read your work.

Did he perhaps initiate his own request to read your work and then upon reading it, helped you later in securing an agent? Or did he possibly recommend/refer you based solely on general conversations about writing (or perhaps based on what mutual acquaintances had said about your writing after reading some of it)?

I myself am generally reluctant to recommend a writer to a rep or producer without having read at least a few pages (or more) of his/her work, but I can well imagine someday hearing from a very trusted source about an emerging writer's exceptional talent and then trying to help without having read his/her work.

Ernie

maralyn
09-12-2009, 06:16 PM
Networking/socializing isn't about sycophantic opportunism, it's about establishing and nurturing long-term professional relationships.

No it's not.

It's about sycophantic opportunism DISGUISED AS nurturing long-term professional relationships.

Ulysses
09-12-2009, 11:44 PM
How many people can you seriously relate to? How many people's work can you truly love? If you're honest with yourself, not that many.

The rest is networking, a talkative silence.

Books about the industry are full of it (you may read this both ways). Many gobble it up and become Rolodesk jockeys. It's one reason why the social barriers are high. Any person you'd like to work with has his guards up against networkers.

Good people will not choose you because you are there and buzz about in front of their face. They look for people that can deliver a certain quality. Quality is rare. They are going to look for you. So, a basic, professional contact will do. You can keep your private life private.

Those who are always there are naturally less valuable. The more someone networks, the less talented he is.

kidcharlemagne
09-13-2009, 08:42 AM
Almost all of my industry contacts have come from networking via real meetings discussing actual projects rather than through any social setting i.e. parties, bars etc

Telly
09-13-2009, 10:27 AM
Almost all of my industry contacts have come from networking via real meetings discussing actual projects rather than through any social setting i.e. parties, bars etc

But does that discount networking in social arenas when it makes sense? No one is saying you don't connect through normal avenues like the meet & greet.

dtrimble
09-13-2009, 03:09 PM
I am new to this gig and appreciate the insights from the silverbacks of this community (Maralyn...really? 2425 posts! Wow! Ravenlocks is moving up there quickly with 1400+). Thanks.

Okay, so I am an out-of-towner. Socializing in person is a little tough. That is the primary reason I am attending the Screenwriting Expo in October -- to meet fellow screenwriters and anybody else that I can. My aspiring director friend and I are staying in LA for three additional days for follow-up appointments and meetings.

We want to make the most of our time. How we will measure the success of trip are our connections with people that might become friends and perhaps eventual working relationships. Once back home we can stay in touch through social networks etc. But in LA...we are little fish in a VERY big pond.

Does anybody have suggestions for meeting quality folks face-to-face while we are in LA?

Ravenlocks
09-13-2009, 04:11 PM
Does anybody have suggestions for meeting quality folks face-to-face while we are in LA?
I think it will be difficult to do in three days, and you're definitely not going to establish meaningful relationships in three days. It would be better if you'd already made friends with people in L.A. and just wanted to meet them in person for drinks and a chat or whatever while you were here. Message boards like this one can be good tools for connecting with cool folks you click with. There's also Artful Writer, where a lot of pros hang out.

"Aspirings" trying to "network" (still hate that word) really have nothing to offer except their friendship. It should be all about making friends with folks you like, whether or not they can help your career.

So just make friends. Don't network. Don't ask anybody to read your work (or in your friend's case, watch his reel). If you mention you're a writer and the person you're talking to asks what you're working on, give them the logline (if their eyes glaze over, the logline sucks; this is how I test mine :D). If they're interested, they'll ask to read the script.

Maybe see if there are any film festivals taking place in L.A. while you're here. I see signs for various small ones throughout the year. That will put you with people who love film. Also, the panels, if they have them, can be informative.

Ultimately, if you've got a quality script, doors will open, because then you'll have something people want.

maralyn
09-13-2009, 04:58 PM
Does anybody have suggestions for meeting quality folks face-to-face while we are in LA?

I know, get super drunk and drive your car really fast downtown while crashing into a few things along the way, then yell out a lot of profanity as you get arrested, and then go looking for any interesting people in jail.

(they won't have any choice but to listen to you)

Tony R
09-13-2009, 05:04 PM
:rolling:

dtrimble
09-13-2009, 06:57 PM
Love it. How to get noticed between 0 - 100. Perhaps we will rent a white Chevy Blazer for our visit.

dtrimble
09-13-2009, 07:28 PM
Yeah... I don't really expect to make friends in a week. I do expect to make acquaintances that might develop into friendships.

(Ravenlocks), you are also right regarding the question "what does a industry neophyte bring to a relational table?" Since writing is only a part of who I am and what I do, I want to find common interests that I might have with those I meet. I long ago stopped asking people at parties "what do you do?" I usually get an auto-response that leads to a conversational dead end. I imagine there is an aspiring (fill in the blank) around every corner in LA. To hear “I am a writer” in a conversation must be a deadening experience for most industry folks in town.

Thanks for the tip on the Artful Writer. I’ll check it out. We will also look for some film screenings, writer groups, and anything else that may afford us opportunity to meet people. Three days or even a week is not much time, but we still have to make the most of it.

As for my scripts, I don’t know if they are good or not. I enjoy them and those that have read them enjoyed them. However, I have neither sought nor received peer or professional feedback. But that is subject for a different thread

Ravenlocks
09-13-2009, 09:55 PM
Trimble, your approach sounds reasonable and you sound like a grounded person. Hope you have a great time here in L.A. :)

Maralyn's suggestion works better if people have heard of you. :D

maralyn
09-14-2009, 03:08 AM
hmm, yea, and he might break his front teeth when his face hits the pavement after he's been tasered.

Not a good look.

Ravenlocks
09-14-2009, 02:01 PM
hmm, yea, and he might break his front teeth when his face hits the pavement after he's been tasered.

Not a good look.
On the other hand, it's memorable.

"Oh, you're the writer with no front teeth! I remember you! Sure, send me your spec All I Want For Christmas. Love to read it!"

Code7Films
09-14-2009, 02:42 PM
On the other hand, it's memorable.

"Oh, you're the writer with no front teeth! I remember you! Sure, send me your spec All I Want For Christmas. Love to read it!"

I'm known because I carry an AR-15 over my shoulder into meetings. They're afraid to be critical of my loglines and scripts. :D :D Gotta love our 2nd Amendment Rights.

maralyn
09-14-2009, 04:34 PM
oh well, you'll be the first to get tasered then.

okay okay, I've got a better idea. Get your wife to dress up as a snappy business woman, the works, high heels, make up, perfume, snug fitting two piece skirt suit. Print up a stack of your scripts, on the cover it should read "requested screenplay" above the title and contact info, and then get her to go to managers offices, all the big ones, and rush in with a script, leave it at the desk, and say "someone dropped this out the front", and then bustle out again, if anyone calls out any questions, tell her to say "sorry sweetie, I don't know", shrug and smile politely and rush out the door again.

JKB
09-17-2009, 09:54 AM
Love it. How to get noticed between 0 - 100. Perhaps we will rent a white Chevy Blazer for our visit.

Right. Anything that attracts news coverage. That's key.

No such thing as negative attention. :bounce:

elevenbulls
09-18-2009, 10:18 AM
When I was in film school 5 years ago, I was constantly kicking myself for not "networking" more. I guess I considered networking to be kissing the ass of whoever won the latest Young Filmmaker contest or smothering any studio execs lured onto campus.

But in the years since, some of my handful of close friends have become quite successful. For a while, I thought it was just some weird stroke of luck. But I think it boils down to our friendships being based on genuine, mutual interests - some of which, like our love of story, lend themselves to success.

Trying to force a friendship with someone only for connections is like dating a smoking hot woman with a doorknob personality. You can only fake interest for so long.