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Old 06-10-2008, 04:05 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2008
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Cool Meetings With Production Companies

Hello Everyone!

So my script went wide and so far no one's bought it. BUT, starting on Thursday, I have a bunch of meetings with Production Companies and Studios who liked the writing, but didn't want to purchase the script.

I was wondering if anyone can give me some pointers for these upcoming meetings. My writing partner and I are really excited about them.

Please let me know what your experience was like during these meetings? Did they land you an assignment? Did they open up the door to pitch?

Thank you!!!!
"PC lobe letter? What the f*%k does that mean?"
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Old 06-10-2008, 05:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

They always want to know what you're working on now. Some of them ask what other scripts you have. They talk about their company and the kinds of projects they're looking to develop. Most of them say "they'd love to find something to develop with you". At first I found that so flattering, but then I realized that means you work on another script for them specifically and therefore you don't get the thrill of your next screenplay going out wide to the town. Maybe others on this board can spin it better than that, but the arrangement never struck me as a very good deal. I was up for a book adaptation assignment from one of these meetings. Pitched but didn't get it. Don't be nervous. The meetings are pleasant and relatively casual. They'll ask you a little about whatever ended up happening with your script, but surprisingly you'll talk very little about that particular project. At least that was my experience. I would say if (and only if) you or your partner have an interesting backstory. Interesting careers in your other life. Grew up somewhere exotic. Graduated high school at 14. You're an expert at space shuttle mechanics, etc. try to work that into your meetings because a) it will make you stand out in a sea of writers on the same dog and pony show circuit and b) you never know what projects they may be developing with no writers yet in mind that relate exactly to your background/area of expertise. Good luck and have fun with it!

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Old 06-10-2008, 10:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

I registered just for this. Finally, a question I am totally qualified to answer!

When you get there, tell the assistant. You'll be shown to a waiting area and offered something to drink: you can have anything you want so long as it's water or Diet Coke. The meetings never, ever start on time. Usually ten or fifteen minutes will go by.

Eventually the exec will come out to get you and take you into the office.

You'll chat for fifteen or twenty minutes about their company, your life story, etc. If you have any interesting life experiences, throw them in here. If you don't have any interesting life experiences, consider inventing some. By meeting #3 you'll find yourself developing patter you use here. "I was born in a cabin overlooking an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia..."

(You need the patter because you're developing your little blurb for yourself as a writer. "You know, that Yammo guy, the one who started out as a sushi chef?")

Then the exec will say "So, I loved your script!" and you'll talk about it a little bit. They're not going to buy the script, so you might feel an urge to go "If you love it so much, why aren't you giving me money for it?" but you should probably stifle that urge. Execs like to ask where you got your inspiration. "I don't know, I just tried to think up something really commercial" is not a good answer. You want something that sounds snappy, whether or not it's strictly 100% true. If you know what I mean. This is another five to ten minutes.

Then they'll say "So what else are you working on?" This is where you trot out three or four really brief pitches. These aren't full pitches, they're just "I have this idea for a sci-fi actioner about goats gone wild, this teenage boy has to save Chicago from a stampede of rabid goats from space." Pause. Wait for the exec to go "Eh" or some variant of "Tell me more". If he wants to hear more, tell him more. If he's underimpressed, move on to your next idea. This is another fifteen minutes.

Then the exec will go "Let me tell you about some of our projects..." and then they'll pitch you. They'll be much better at it than you are and you will feel inadequate. Chime in if something grabs you, but don't get too excited: you're the fourth writer the exec has met that day, and all of them have gotten the same pitches tossed their way. This is another fifteen minutes.

Meetings last about an hour: I've had them go as long as 90 minutes and as short as 45. It depends on if the exec has someone scheduled right after you, and if you're enjoying talking to each other.

You shake hands, swap cards, say that it was nice to meet them. They'll walk you out to the assistant's desk, where you'll get your parking validated. Be nice to the assistant, but don't kiss their ass and be embarrassing.

Go downstairs. Get in your car. Call your rep and tell them how it went. Later, your rep will call the exec to follow up, so if for instance the exec pitched you something you're in love with, or if you pitched the exec something they loved or hated, mention it now.

Expect little. As a new writer, you will have tons of these meetings. The first one will be deeply nervewracking, but you'll rapidly realize that these are just meet-and-greets, not anything that will make or break you.

Assorted tips: look up the company before you go. Don't insult a movie they made. (Ask me how I know.)

Most offices will have one or two chairs and a couch. The execs usually take the chairs. The couches are usually uncomfortable. Don't sit all the way back. You'll get all slouchy.

If you're a dude, wear jeans, cool sneakers or leather shoes, a t-shirt, a t-shirt under a collared shirt, or a t-shirt under a sweater. Have hip glasses if possible. That's the uniform for young male writers.

If you're a girl, it's harder to figure out what to wear. You're trying to strike a balance between "I'm a girl and I clean up just fine, thank you!" and "I am hip and cool", so you don't want to be too girly, but you don't want to look like you don't know how to dress, either. I still haven't figured out a uniform.

That afternoon or the next morning, send the exec a thank-you email. Thank them for meeting with you and maybe mention something specific from the meeting, like "I love your idea about the all-male revue in the retirement community".

Don't have too many expectations of these meetings. They're really more about meeting people -everybody wants to meet new writers - and getting out there than they are about getting you work. The kinds of meetings that are about getting you work are a different kettle of fish.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

very informative Corduroy, thanks. Hopefully I'll get to use that advice someday.
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

Ridiculously tiny but still important tip: After you take the beverage (and you must take a beverage), drink with your left hand. As has already been mentioned, you'll be kept waiting, and so you'll be sitting there with nothing to do, drinking away as your hand gets all cold and damp. And then the exec comes out and wants to shake hands. So, yeah, left hand for drinking.

Your manager will probably schedule your meetings in ascending order of heavy-hittery, so your earliest meetings will be with the least important people. They won't be rinky dink or anything, but if you have some really scary power players on deck, your rep'll probably try to schedule them a little later so you've had some chance to get used to the whole meeting process. Either way, they're just people. And they want to like you. They're not starting the reason looking for ways to rule you out; they just want to see what you'd be like to work with, to discuss creative issues with, etc.

Agreed on the coming up with interesting details. "Tell me about yourself" is pretty much an inevitable question.

Not everybody does the card swapping thing, so it's not a sign that the meeting went badly if they don't do it.

I'd say the girl uniform is basically what you'd wear to go out for drinks at a fairly nice bar, or maybe an upscale lunch place. Polished casual. Jeans, but your best pair. An unfussy but stylish top -- or a plain top with a cool necklace, or a cool fitted tee/jacket combo.

They may ask you what recent films you've liked, or what some of your favorites are. You don't have to only list films from that company's catalogue. (You should mention a few if you can, though.) You want to write films for a living; therefore, they expect you to be passionate about film. So let your personality out and talk about some movies you love. That said, don't diss things, even if you know they're not from that particular studio/prodco. A lot of execs are married to or involved with other biz folk; you don't want to inadvertently slam their SO's project.

I just starting doing the meeting circuit this year, but I've found them to be surprisingly fun. So don't worry too much!

P.S. My meetings have all been on the TV end, but I think the experiences are still more or less the same.
The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter -- it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. - Mark Twain
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Old 06-11-2008, 05:07 AM   #6
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

Great thread. Thanks guys!
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Old 06-11-2008, 06:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

Wow - thanks for the fabulous info corduroy and jillybob!
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

Originally Posted by corduroy View Post
I registered just for this. Finally, a question I am totally qualified to answer!

When you get there, tell the assistant. You'll be shown to a waiting area and offered something to drink: you can have anything you want so long as it's water or Diet Coke. The meetings never, ever start on time. Usually ten or fifteen minutes will go by....
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

Corudroy nailed it.

If you want a little more info, you can check out my own thread on it from a few years back -- if you can overlook the weird ASCII symbols that got thrown in with it.

Note to board techs -- any way to get rid of those?
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Meetings With Production Companies

Second the above. My experience of these meetings was a general chat, a "what else are you working on?" which was my segue into one or two pitches and in one meeting I was given a treatment by a Warner Bros based producer's CE to look at. I wrote the take up over the weekend, the producer liked it but it went nowhere.

If you have many meetings allow for the traffic in LA (and its general hugeness!) and make sure you have exact directions as to where you are going and allow for the fact that if you are going onto a studio lot you need time to get past security, to park the car and then to find the office on the lot, so arrive early! And, as has been mentioned above, be prepared to wait and for the meeting to run over so make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the next meeting!

I once made the mistake of reading a number in the 10,000's on Pico (Fox!) as a number in the 1000's and it was rush hour and I was 50 minutes late. Still, because he knew I was flying in from the UK the exec was cool about it.

For meetings, preparation is your best friend!
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