PDA

View Full Version : Need some advice on meetings...


Terrance Mulloy
10-08-2009, 11:49 PM
I know that a big part of being a successful screenwriter these days - is having the ability to convey your ideas in a clear, engaging and concise way. Be it to your reps, producers, or anyone else who thinks you're worthy enough to call into a room. In other words, being good in a room, and pitching your ideas is all part of the game. I get that.

Unfortunately, and I know I'm not alone here, this is my weakest attribute. I have a hard time talking about myself and my projects some times.

Does anyone have any tips on 'meet and greets', as well as pitching in a room. Yeah, I know it pays to be you, and don't try too hard, etc - but I've never done this before, so I'm still a little wet behind the ears.

Any advice on pitching would be greatly appreciated.

Also - I think it's a good idea to get some business card printed, and maybe take a thumb drive in, just in case. But would it be a good idea to just take one sheet of paper along, with some logs and ideas typed out. Something I can refer to when I'm talking about ideas - or would this look unprofessional?

-XL-
10-09-2009, 01:04 AM
I've been in the pub for 7 hours. If I'm less clear than usual (and I'm usually pretty sh!te) that's why.

Being good in a room is as important as you think. Meet and greets are pretty standard -- they're basically a first date. You pretend to be more attractive, more interesting, smarter, and funnier than you actually are. I was born with the bullsh!t gene so it comes a little easier to me. I've posted this before, elsewhere, but I thought it might help:

Execs here have the general down to an art form. There's a formula to them, and while they don't always follow the exact same path they all hit the same beats:

I really liked/loved (your script).
So tell me about yourself.
How'd you get into writing? (How long have you been doing it? Why? Blah blah.)
What made you write (your script).
What are your favourite movies/books?
What are you interested in doing? (Adaptations, Rewrites, just Originals? What genres/scale? Any specific books, remakes etc you've always wanted to do?)
What are you working on now?
Here's what we do.
Here's some of the things we're doing at the moment.
Here's something/some things we're doing/looking to do that you'd be great for. (Worth asking if they don't offer it first. Sometimes they won't have anything. Other times they might have a bunch. Also not a bad idea to get a heads up from your rep on this if they know.)

Meet and greets are pretty much that simple. A little practice and you'll have it down. Pitching projects is a beast I haven't yet conquered. Generally, you'll be giving people the extended logline of something you've already written or are thinking of writing: the cool-and-fresh-as-fvck story beats that make up your script. It's a tough thing to coach except to say that if you're focusing entirely on the plot, rather than getting them involved emotionally, then you're doing it wrong. I tend to start with who it is about.

Pitching on a project (an assignment) is a whole other beast. One I'm nowhere near coherent enough to weigh in on right now.

There was a thread on business cards very recently. I don't think they hurt but some people don't like them. Regardless, it's not a huge deal. You really don't *need* them.

Thumb drives... I wouldn't. Again, it won't hurt but if they want something in specific then you can email it when you get home. Easy (and gives you an excuse to follow up).

The one sheet... It wouldn't look unprofessional. I doubt they'd care. But when it comes to concepts I believe in selling them as something concrete. If I know them by heart, and at least act like they're fully realised, then they're something much more tangible than stumbling my way through a few lines on a page. Confidence is a huge plus.

gravitas
10-09-2009, 07:56 AM
Thanks for that XL, I'm a bit green in this department too. Terrance, I asked the same question awhile ago because I have a few meetings coming up. I'm hoping the all the semi-pros/ pros here will chime in about their experiences. I guess I'm concerned about what not to say. It's easy (for me at least) to say too much and talk myself right out of it.

zenplato
10-09-2009, 08:11 AM
Great post XL.

To me, I think the one thing that I would try to convey, is that my writing has something to say.

BECAUSE I think being a writer means you have a voice that people want to listen to...what are you trying to say with your voice?

Of course, I know nothing, so please take that into consideration. :)

But anyways, best of luck Terrance. Seriously mate, hope to see your moving to LA soon, :).

adam612
10-09-2009, 08:43 AM
I spent a very busy week in LA this August cramming a lot of meetings in. I was in a similar situation as you, Terrance.

I posted my own personal experience over at 2A, but here are some overall suggestions:

Do a little research about the company before you go in. It's worth joining imdbpro for a month so you can see their in-development titles.

XL's list is a pretty good one, most of my meetings followed that pattern.

If you know another writer who knows an exec, that's not a bad icebreaker. There were a few meetings I opened by saying I had dinner the other night with MrJonesProds and he says hello.

Your obviously not from LA, right? Your accent will be a good opening... sometimes I felt like these people were happy to have something different to talk about.

Take the water. Ask if they validate on the way out. And LA has some weird parking rules, even if there's a meter accepting money, read the signs carefully.

Don't wait too long to turn the conversation towards you. A few minutes on what they're working on should be sufficient-- ask a question or two-- but then find a way to shift the discussion to what you're working on.

The most common question was without a doubt "what are you working on next?". I learned that you can't always predict what they want based on what type of company they are. Example: I panicked going into a meeting with a guy who helped developed a huge action movie this summer-- why didn't I bring my expanded list of loglines with me so I could find something that was more action-based-- but this is the company I ended up choosing to develop my new spec... and it's a comedy/adventure. Meanwhile, when I met with a big comedy star's prodco, thinking this new idea would be perfect for them, they had no interest.

You should be prepared to go into a handful of ideas. Anything past 3 or 4 and it starts to feel desperate, like you're throwing a list at them. But I found that in my 17 or so meetings, I used 7-8 ideas... I just shifted them around a lot. Like my #2 idea at the beginning of the week got no love several times in a row, so I pulled it out of the rotation as the week went on. There was another idea I only mentioned in passing that more than one person added to/commented on... by later in the week, I was using the new version of that idea and getting positive reactions.

A logline is sufficient. (I think you'll sound better if you memorize it, and since it's only a log, I'd spend some time doing that.) If they're interested, they'll ask more and you can go into more detail. Keep it loose, so if they want to contribute to it, they will. Plus, this way you don't have to memorize too much. I found it was better to be honest and admit I was still figuring out that beat or that character.

I brought a folder with me but I don't think I gave anyone anything. Once I wrote a bunch of things down when a lot of ideas were thrown at me from a producer. Personally, I think the business card idea is tacky.

If you have other scripts that you think hold up, definitely mention them. There's a very good chance they'll ask to read one, but I don't think you need the USB drive... everyone just asked me to email them the script.

But definitely take THEIR card.

In the end, these meetings are really just a small step. Be prepared to go right back to writing when you get home.

Good luck.

Telly
10-09-2009, 08:51 AM
XL, that information is property of the represented screenwriter's forum. You will be hearing from our attorneys.

:D

Geoff Alexander
10-09-2009, 09:45 AM
I know that a big part of being a successful screenwriter these days - is having the ability to convey your ideas in a clear, engaging and concise way. Be it to your reps, producers, or anyone else who thinks you're worthy enough to call into a room. In other words, being good in a room, and pitching your ideas is all part of the game. I get that.

Unfortunately, and I know I'm not alone here, this is my weakest attribute. I have a hard time talking about myself and my projects some times.

Does anyone have any tips on 'meet and greets', as well as pitching in a room. Yeah, I know it pays to be you, and don't try too hard, etc - but I've never done this before, so I'm still a little wet behind the ears.

Any advice on pitching would be greatly appreciated.

Also - I think it's a good idea to get some business card printed, and maybe take a thumb drive in, just in case. But would it be a good idea to just take one sheet of paper along, with some logs and ideas typed out. Something I can refer to when I'm talking about ideas - or would this look unprofessional?

Honestly, I think the best way to approach it is going in knowing that nothing's going to happen in the room, on that day, out of that conversation. You are just there to have a fun conversation, let people know what you like, find out what they are up to and what they want to do, and talk about some ideas that you are excited about. It's basically a first date. If you come off looking like you really need to get laid, it just makes you look desperate.

carcar
10-09-2009, 10:46 AM
This is a great thread, you guys. I have nothing to add but my thanks.

mrjonesprods
10-09-2009, 12:28 PM
If this is an agent meeting, how flushed out do you think you should be when they say, "What are you working on next?"

Are we talking broad strokes here, or entire plots beat out? More than just a log I take it.

Just the broad strokes are fine. Give a log line. Maybe a few story points. They'll engage you from there.

RichMike
10-09-2009, 01:23 PM
1) take the water and drink it? or take it home? i was at a prodco on a studio lot and THERE WAS NO TRASH CAN.

2) i took a cab to the studio lot. do you need parking validated on the lot, or is that secured / free?

3) i assume most agencies in hollywood have garages nearby that they use? or do you end up with street parking?

thanks!!!!!!


I spent a very busy week in LA this August cramming a lot of meetings in. I was in a similar situation as you, Terrance.

I posted my own personal experience over at 2A, but here are some overall suggestions:

Do a little research about the company before you go in. It's worth joining imdbpro for a month so you can see their in-development titles.

XL's list is a pretty good one, most of my meetings followed that pattern.

If you know another writer who knows an exec, that's not a bad icebreaker. There were a few meetings I opened by saying I had dinner the other night with MrJonesProds and he says hello.

Your obviously not from LA, right? Your accent will be a good opening... sometimes I felt like these people were happy to have something different to talk about.

Take the water. Ask if they validate on the way out. And LA has some weird parking rules, even if there's a meter accepting money, read the signs carefully.

Don't wait too long to turn the conversation towards you. A few minutes on what they're working on should be sufficient-- ask a question or two-- but then find a way to shift the discussion to what you're working on.

The most common question was without a doubt "what are you working on next?". I learned that you can't always predict what they want based on what type of company they are. Example: I panicked going into a meeting with a guy who helped developed a huge action movie this summer-- why didn't I bring my expanded list of loglines with me so I could find something that was more action-based-- but this is the company I ended up choosing to develop my new spec... and it's a comedy/adventure. Meanwhile, when I met with a big comedy star's prodco, thinking this new idea would be perfect for them, they had no interest.

You should be prepared to go into a handful of ideas. Anything past 3 or 4 and it starts to feel desperate, like you're throwing a list at them. But I found that in my 17 or so meetings, I used 7-8 ideas... I just shifted them around a lot. Like my #2 idea at the beginning of the week got no love several times in a row, so I pulled it out of the rotation as the week went on. There was another idea I only mentioned in passing that more than one person added to/commented on... by later in the week, I was using the new version of that idea and getting positive reactions.

A logline is sufficient. (I think you'll sound better if you memorize it, and since it's only a log, I'd spend some time doing that.) If they're interested, they'll ask more and you can go into more detail. Keep it loose, so if they want to contribute to it, they will. Plus, this way you don't have to memorize too much. I found it was better to be honest and admit I was still figuring out that beat or that character.

I brought a folder with me but I don't think I gave anyone anything. Once I wrote a bunch of things down when a lot of ideas were thrown at me from a producer. Personally, I think the business card idea is tacky.

If you have other scripts that you think hold up, definitely mention them. There's a very good chance they'll ask to read one, but I don't think you need the USB drive... everyone just asked me to email them the script.

But definitely take THEIR card.

In the end, these meetings are really just a small step. Be prepared to go right back to writing when you get home.

Good luck.

gravitas
10-09-2009, 01:29 PM
Just the broad strokes are fine. Give a log line. Maybe a few story points. They'll engage you from there.

That's my plan. Input greatly appreciated, thanks.

seh
10-09-2009, 02:40 PM
When you said thumb drive, T, I thought you were planning on hitch hiking. Now I got it.

Good luck, my friend.

-XL-
10-09-2009, 02:59 PM
1) take the water and drink it? or take it home? i was at a prodco on a studio lot and THERE WAS NO TRASH CAN.

2) i took a cab to the studio lot. do you need parking validated on the lot, or is that secured / free?

3) i assume most agencies in hollywood have garages nearby that they use? or do you end up with street parking?

thanks!!!!!!

1) Take the water. You'll need it, especially for the longer pitches. Hold it in your non-shaking hand before the meeting (or you'll end up giving them a frozen grip -- not pleasant). Whether you drink it or take it home is up to you. You can always leave it in the exec's office or hand it to the assistant on the way out.

2) Parking is free on the lot but you'll need to ensure you have a drive-on pass organised beforehand (and if someone else is driving you, other than a cabbie, they'll need to be on the system too). As a sidenote you'll want to take some form of ID -- passport/driver's license -- to hand the guard at the gate.

3) is better answered by someone who actually drives. I'm sure there are optimal parking places for the different agencies (are CAA still charging for parking?). UTA has a garage and validates.

jyangwrites
10-09-2009, 04:44 PM
3) is better answered by someone who actually drives. I'm sure there are optimal parking places for the different agencies (are CAA still charging for parking?). UTA has a garage and validates.

Wait a tick -- question about this -- are you saying you live in LA and don't drive a car at all?

I was under the impression that you needed to drive to do business over there. I'm from NYC and have never had a license.

Terrance Mulloy
10-09-2009, 06:06 PM
Thanks, guys. Some great advice there.

The main thing that worries me, is that a lot of my ideas atm, are still very vague in premise. My manager likes the new spec idea I pitched him a week back - but I'm still figuring out all the nuts and bolts, and won't be sure if it's fully realized before I get to those meetings.

And these will all be studio/prod co meetings as well - so hopefully, with a little luck, they'll be telling me about their ideas, and asking if there's anything I'd be interested in working on. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and yes, I will be driving to all these places, so I'll be sure to ask about validation. I know LA parking inspectors are some of the most brutal in the world.

-XL-
10-09-2009, 07:24 PM
Wait a tick -- question about this -- are you saying you live in LA and don't drive a car at all?

I was under the impression that you needed to drive to do business over there. I'm from NYC and have never had a license.

That is, indeed, what I'm saying. It's the bane of many people's lives (my reps and their assistants especially) and an endless source of humour to others. Some folks come to me, some places are bus-able, sometimes an intern gets a couple hours off to drive me, and occasionally I spend a fortune on cabs. It's the price I pay for being a big pvssy when it comes to driving and, while I remind them that it's the only real way I'm a pain in the @ss, pretty much every other conversation with one of my agents contains a joke about whether I've started taking lessons yet. It's not, in any sense of the word, an easy city to get around without a car. Living in England I never had any desire to learn but if I end up here for good there'll come a point where it gets too much for me.

Telly
10-09-2009, 07:33 PM
That is, indeed, what I'm saying. It's the bane of many people's lives (my reps and their assistants especially) and an endless source of humour to others. Some folks come to me, some places are bus-able, sometimes an intern gets a couple hours off to drive me, and occasionally I spend a fortune on cabs. It's the price I pay for being a big pvssy when it comes to driving and, while I remind them that it's the only real way I'm a pain in the @ss, pretty much every other conversation with one of my agents contains a joke about whether I've started taking lessons yet. It's not, in any sense of the word, an easy city to get around without a car. Living in England I never had any desire to learn but if I end up here for good there'll come a point where it gets too much for me.

I assume I'm picking you up then for that pint? :)

-XL-
10-09-2009, 08:00 PM
I assume I'm picking you up then for that pint? :)

Hah. Maybe not. Unless something goes awry I'm gonna try and make tomorrow. West Hollywood is an easy bus ride from Santa Monica.

phatgirl
10-09-2009, 08:43 PM
And LA has some weird parking rules, even if there's a meter accepting money, read the signs carefully.
Adam - can you elaborate?

jyangwrites
10-09-2009, 09:25 PM
That is, indeed, what I'm saying. It's the bane of many people's lives (my reps and their assistants especially) and an endless source of humour to others. Some folks come to me, some places are bus-able, sometimes an intern gets a couple hours off to drive me, and occasionally I spend a fortune on cabs. It's the price I pay for being a big pvssy when it comes to driving and, while I remind them that it's the only real way I'm a pain in the @ss, pretty much every other conversation with one of my agents contains a joke about whether I've started taking lessons yet. It's not, in any sense of the word, an easy city to get around without a car. Living in England I never had any desire to learn but if I end up here for good there'll come a point where it gets too much for me.

Ahhh ok, thank you for elaborating. Looks like I'll be taking some driving lessons soon...

corduroy
10-09-2009, 09:29 PM
What XL said about how meetings go. Meetings are not as exciting and important as you think they are when you start having them. Unfortunately. :(

1) take the water and drink it? or take it home? i was at a prodco on a studio lot and THERE WAS NO TRASH CAN.

2) i took a cab to the studio lot. do you need parking validated on the lot, or is that secured / free?

3) i assume most agencies in hollywood have garages nearby that they use? or do you end up with street parking?

1) I have many half-empty bottles of water in my car.

2) No, on a lot you don't need to validate. Some lots have weird localized parking spots instead of central lots or garages, but the guard will tell you where to go. When you arrive, if you're in any doubt, ask the assistant if you're in the right spot. Parking in LA, even on lots, is fraught with peril. I don't care if people think I'm paranoid, I just don't want to get towed.

You will need a drive-on (sometimes people will call this a gate pass) - the assistant should take care of it. If for some reason they don't have you in the system at the gate, the guard will just call the office. It's no big deal. But remember to bring photo ID.

3) Mostly they have garages. CAA (and the other companies that are in the CAA tower) don't validate unless you're really fancy. (I don't get validated, obviously.) So if you're meeting there you park at the mall and walk over.

Many companies have some kind of parking. Your rep's assistant (or the company's assistant) will tell you how and where to park, or if there's street parking.

If the company doesn't have parking or doesn't validate and you have to park on the street, like a previous poster said, read all the signs. It's common to have one-hour or two-hour metered parking that isn't allowed during certain hours, etc. LA parking enforcement is on top of their stuff. You will get a ticket.

The OP asked about pitching - when I'm pitching whatever I'm writing myself, I don't give them the whole story (they can read it when it goes out, also I'm lazy), I just give them the setup and a couple of turning points. "It's about this kid who somethingsomethingsomething. So then he discovers that his father is actually the President, and the CIA is after him for his DNA, somethingsomethingsomething, it's going to be really cool."

When you're pitching on an assignment you pretty much have to give them every beat of the story. It sucks. I am not great at it.

Someone asked about cards - I have cards. Mine are funny. People like them a lot. They say only my name and my phone # and my email. I think cards are a great idea - producers often email me directly - but don't put "writer" or "screenwriter" or anything embarrassing like "visionary" on there.

I carry a notebook with me into meetings. I write down anything the exec tells me to watch or read, or any ideas they'd like me to mull over. And I use it to hold my pitches. People interrupt you, and I'm no performer: frankly I need the black-and-white reminder of what the heck I was just saying.

I would not bring any other kind of prop.

Good luck!

maralyn
10-09-2009, 10:00 PM
When I go into meetings they hug me, and then they kiss me. They do. I find it mildly awkward, but that's what they do. They hug me and then they kiss me. Not in a sexual way, mind you.

odocoileus
10-09-2009, 11:42 PM
When I go into meetings they hug me, and then they kiss me. They do. I find it mildly awkward, but that's what they do. They hug me and then they kiss me. Not in a sexual way, mind you.

Xanax. It's not just for breakfast anymore.

maralyn
10-09-2009, 11:53 PM
haha, for me or for them?

But they do. Sometimes I can still feel that coolness on my cheek where they left a bit of spittle behind. But I force myself to not wipe it off, because that would just be rude.

Terrance Mulloy
10-10-2009, 01:00 AM
I assume I'm picking you up then for that pint? :)

I'll have a hire care - I'll pick him up if you want. For two pints (I'm Aussie, so two is suffice). :)