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Old 09-16-2016, 03:27 PM   #1
KitesAreFun
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Default Strange feedback

Has this every happened to anyone? Maybe it's not as weird as I think.

A mutual friend sets up a pitch meeting for me with a wealthy guy who finances movies. He recently funded a film starring several well-known actors that did reasonably well.

The meeting itself is odd. The guy picks me up in his extremely expensive car on a street corner, which reeks of cigarettes. I used to smoke and don't mind the smell, but the guy chainsmokes to such an extent that by the end of our 30-minute meeting, I'm starting to get a headache.

We drive around while I pitch him a few ideas. He tells me that he doesn't read scripts and I should condense the two ideas that he likes into short PPT documents. Fine. I can do that.

Spend a couple of days working on them. They're good. One idea is commercially viable, but is based on a book that would have to be optioned. The other is an urbane comedy in the Noah Baumbach mode. My guess is that he'll be interested in the former and pass on the latter, but so be it. There's no script for the first project, but one for the second. The film financier told me that the guy on his payroll who reads stuff will check out the script. If he likes it, the film financier himself will read it.

Within a day of sending off the PPT files, I get a response. It's a pass on both. Again, no biggie - I can deal with rejection. It's in my blood at this point.

The weird thing is that the film financier's guy who read the PPT material, whoever he is, gave a reason for passing on the comedy is that the script is 120 pages long. According to his feedback, this automatically means that the story is meandering and unfocused. But he also makes it clear that he hasn't read it and is basing everything on the PPT files.

Is this the norm? Again, it's fine. I'm just curious. I've never had any pitch meetings or feedback go like this before.
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Strange feedback

Firstly, you were lucky to get set up with that dude, so don't burn any bridges - you should have more than one script and an idea based on a IP you don't own anyway.

120 pages?
Well, to be honest, it sounds hell-long for a comedy, but it's a detail you should have left out, giving instead a running-time estimate of the completed film (witty back-and-forth dialogue can take up pages of a script but the actual screen-time can only a minute or so - it's tough to gauge unless you're timing actors read through it).

For the future, I'd recommend that you get some people to read your work before you approach a financier. It may end up costing you some cash, but a good grade on the Blacklist or an industry pro' who's read and okayed a ton of produced scripts giving you a quote will always work in your favour.
I can't advise because I've never used them, but there used to be a couple of pro' readers on here (Mechanic and Script Gal, if I recall)... the point is, imagine a quote such as:

"The best comedy since Something About Mary"
Mary X, Professional Screenplay Executive, formerly of Paramount.

Or, you can approach industry pro's and ask if they'd be interested in working on it, should you succeed in getting it funded. Then your quote would be something like,

"A hilariously witty comedy"
John Z, Gaffer, Candid Camera.

Anyway, you get the point.

And nothing weird about being blown out because your comedy is 120 pages long; financiers can turn you down just because they don't like your hair style. Keep hustling!
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Old 09-17-2016, 07:59 AM   #3
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Default Re: Strange feedback

Thanks for your response, Grandmaster. I definitely don't want to burn any bridges. I thanked him for his time even after he sent me an email telling me that they're passing.

The reader knew the script was 120 pages because I sent it to the film financier along with the two PPTs - they had asked me to do that so they'd have it to read.

I hear what you're saying about having an industry pro read it - I used Roadmap Writers to have a well-known manager look at it and we had a really nice phone conversation, during which he said the first 15 pages were strong. Suggested heightening some of the comedic moments.

I'm not saying it couldn't be improved, but I'm not sure a good quote would've mattered with the financier - he made a big point of saying he doesn't like to read and our mutual friend described him as "barely literate." He made a lot of money in another industry and now finances movies for the fun of it. At one point, he asked if I'd ever directed anything, and I told him that I had a short that had played at festivals around the world, been written up in the New York Times and had a theatrical run. He just shrugged and said it didn't count because it didn't make any money. He also made a point of boasting about how little he pays writers who do work for him.

I realize I have a lot to learn and I'm totally cool with what happened. It just felt like something out of a parody of the movie business, from the meeting in the smoke-filled car to the notes on a script that nobody bothered to read.

Just for future reference, what's considered the normal length for a comedic script? Something closer to 90 pages?
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Old 09-24-2016, 01:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Strange feedback

Apologies for the belated response.

To be honest, I don't write comedies so I can't advise on them too much. It could be that the 120 page thing was a polite excuse, but take a look at some comedies on some script hosting sites to get a rough idea on ideal length.

Another thing was that you approached a financier with an idea... and that's probably about it.
Now, that's fine if your plan was to get a producer on board to run the show should the financier have been interested, but a lot of these people don't think that way - they want to see a business plan, get some figures and decide if they're in or out.

It's very Catch 22, I know, but so is the whole agent/producer thing. The only way around it seems to be finding someone who'd like to finance a film, who likes your story, believes it can be realistically made to a professional standard and get the attention of distributors for whatever budget you're claiming it can be done for, and is viable of reaping some kind of profit... or at least getting him the main chunk of his cash back.

If you want to go down that path, I'd recommend that you did some business research - certainly that of business plans - contacted some industry pro's and expanded your reach.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 09-24-2016, 05:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Strange feedback

Another nail in my old boss's coffin. He swore to me that only actors smoked these days.

Unfortunately, the whole "I don't read scripts" thing is pretty prevalent. For example, Brian Grazer does not read scripts. Although he actually has a legitimate excuse, being that he's dyslexic.

And yeah, realistically there's nothing wrong with a comedy script being 120 pages. Stuff gets cut. Maybe it doesn't quite run that full two hours because some pages go quickly. I just randomly decided to check the run time of ANIMAL HOUSE and it's 1:49.

But it's also just the reality that people apply rules like this when evaluating scripts. They focus on things that aren't really essential elements. And comedies do tend to not have epic run times. Painful as it might be, I think it's a good idea to keep these kinds of things in mind when writing a script you're trying to break through with.

Allegedly the parody elements of working in Hollywood are not as bad as they used to be. But I find myself running into things I laugh about later all the time.
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