Thread: Meeting tips
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Old 06-15-2005, 02:03 PM   #1
GreatOz
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Default Meeting tips

The past several years I have managed to get meetings with about thirty production companies, a lot of them major players on the studio lots. I thought I’d share what to expect so you’re ready when that day comes for you.

My meetings were the result of several scripts going wide. The creative executives liked my writing and requested a meeting to check me out. That’s the best kind of circumstance.

Don’t dress up. Prodcos are very casual places, even the big ones. But don’t dress down either. This is a job interview.

Most CEs are in their low to mid-twenties. Don’t let this throw you. It doesn’t matter what your age is as long as you’ve got great stories.

Keep in mind a CE can’t buy your screenplay. Their job is to work with writers on existing projects and find new material. If they like your material, they can send it to the next level, but that’s about it.

The vast majority of CEs are very nice, normal people doing a hard, unglamorous job.

Production offices vary from great opulence on top of skyscrapers to little bungalows in bad need of a paint job.

CEs are VERY busy. They live in meetings. Don’t be put off if yours is rescheduled.
Don’t be late and don’t be early. Be on time. Sit in your car if you have to. And the CE will almost certainly be late.

Ask about parking or you may find yourself burning up time trying to find the mythical empty parking space in the Mid-Wilshire district.

If you’re going into a studio, ask which gate.

At the studio gate, you’ll be given a pass (if you’re on the list) and a map. You’ll be told where to go and where to park. Don’t deviate. Don’t wonder around.

You’ll walk into these offices and see scripts EVERYWHERE. Scripts stuffed in bookcases, covering desks, covering floors. Outside one office I saw a refrigerator-sized box filled with scripts to be recycled.

Chat up the receptionist if they’re not too busy. He/She could be a CE next week.

Take copious notes. Write down people’s names.

In prodcos big and small, you’ll always be offered a bottled water (except at Castle Rock where they give you the water in a huge glass filled to the brim with no ice, very awkward. So bring your own.)

Hopefully you’ve done your homework and know something about the person you’re talking to as well as the company. Most prodcos will have posters of their movies on the wall. Look around the CEs office and see if you can spot anything you have in common. For example, one office I visited was decorated with action figures from the Dark Crystal. Also being a fan of the Hensen Company, I started our conversation from there. It was the longest meeting I ever had at forty-five minutes.

The average meeting will be between twenty to thirty minutes. That may sound like a long time, but it goes by fast.

The first part of the meeting will be idle chitchat “How long you been writing?” “What movies have you seen recently?” I get that a lot. “What are your favorite movies?” That too. “What did you think of (the company’s latest movie)?” Tell them you loved it.

The CE will give you a description of the company and what they’re looking for. If you’re lucky, they’ll tell you a specific idea they’ve been toying with ““ THIS IS YOUR INVITATION TO COME UP WITH A TAKE ON IT. If you can’t come up with anything instantly, say it’s a really interesting idea and you’d like to think about it and get back to him with a fax or email.

ALWAYS leave a business card. Giving the CE your card (at the END of the meeting) will almost always result in their giving you their card. THIS IS A CONTACT. THIS IS NETWORKING. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT EMAIL ADDRESS. Cherish it. Don’t share it. Don’t abuse it. Only use it to share your ideas, if they’ve invited you to.

Don’t be in a hurry to pitch. You’ll know when it’s time. Ease into it. Pitching is a whole other subject. Keep it to two minutes or less or their eyes will glaze over. If they want to know more, they’ll ask questions. And it’s okay to read the pitch from a sheet, as long as you keep some good eye contact.

I always give them a logline first and if they’re interested continue with the pitch.

Don’t waste their time. Don’t pitch a comedy if the CE has said they don’t do comedies.
Sometimes it’s clear very early you have nothing this company is looking for and things grind to a halt. That’s okay. It happens. Tell them maybe you’ll have something in the future. Whip out your card and hopefully get theirs. CEs move around a lot. This person may be at a whole different company three months from now that needs exactly what you’ve got. 50% of the CEs I’ve pitched to are no longer at the company I met them at.

Don’t even schedule a meeting unless you have three or four specs as good as the one they’ve read and a bunch of amazing high concept ideas. This is your chance. Don’t waste it. Be prepared.

Good luck!

Last edited by Done Deal Pro : 06-13-2008 at 05:14 PM.
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