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Old 06-17-2005, 06:25 PM   #31
Jake Schuster
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Default Re: Meeting tips

Last time I was out for meetings (and before I secured an apartment for future visits) I got the Beverly Hilton for $89/night, though it didn't include parking (I could come and go as many times as I liked on any given day, though, of course). Great location.
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Old 06-17-2005, 07:59 PM   #32
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Default Re: Meeting tips

The last time I paid for a hotel in LA, I got great rates at the Sofitel (across from the Beverly Center) -- I think about what you paid, Jake. I went on priceline and bid on a 4-star hotel in Beverly Hills, and that's what I got. Of course I had to pay parking and that was a killer.

I've also stayed at The Farmer's Daughter across from Farmer's Market and The Grove. It used to be cheaper than it is now. Great location, though.
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Old 06-18-2005, 07:41 AM   #33
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Default Re: Meeting tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by pooks
The last time I paid for a hotel in LA, I got great rates at the Sofitel (across from the Beverly Center) -- I think about what you paid, Jake. I went on priceline and bid on a 4-star hotel in Beverly Hills, and that's what I got. Of course I had to pay parking and that was a killer.

I've also stayed at The Farmer's Daughter across from Farmer's Market and The Grove. It used to be cheaper than it is now. Great location, though.
Pooks! Great minds think alike! I always stay at the Farmer's Daughter. It's a really nice place. It's location in mid-Wilshire is minutes away from the studios and most of the production offices. I love eating at the Farmer's Market and it's a block away from a Whole Foods store that has a great deli.

Funny story, though...I was watching Julianne Moore being interviewed on Inside the Actor's Studio, and she said to prepare for her role in Boogie Nights she went to see a porn movie being filmed...at the Farmer's Daughter on Fairfax!!!

But the place has since been renovated is now quite classy. They have certain price breaks if you go to their website. And free parking.
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Old 06-18-2005, 08:56 AM   #34
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Default Re: Meeting tips

There's also a nice cheap motel on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax just down from the market, but I've forgotten the name so ....this is a pretty pointless post.
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Old 07-08-2005, 01:53 AM   #35
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Default Re: Meeting tips

Hi Great Oz et al,

After packing in a whole bunch of meetings in 5 days I wanted to add to Oz's tips once more. I've been to LA for meetings several times now but each time I learn something.

Here's what I learnt this time:

1) Know the gender of the person you're meeting! Sounds obvious doesn't it? Well after making tons of calls over a 2 month period I had forgotten the gender of two people, one a dev. exec. and the other a producer. One was female but had a name that could also be male and vice versa.

I was late for the first meeting and when I phoned, the producer picked up the phone and he was male and for a split second I thought, 'who the hell is this?', because I had envisioned the whole meeting, and had envisioned all my emails coming from a female. So for a split second that threw me.

Then I walked into another meeting and thought the girl that was greeting me was the receptionist/assistant. We shook hands and she asked me to wait in another office. Then the REAL assistant came in and said X will see you now but since I had assumed X was the assistant I didn't know which office I should go into since I thought I was waiting for a male X so I had to ask, 'Which office?', and he pointed me to Ms. X's office and only after going in and shaking her hand again did I realize that I'd got mixed up because of the unisex name.
TIP: Film Tracker lists the gender of a person.

2) Never pre-judge the person you're meeting. I had a number of meetings where I somehow thought they would be a waste of time. One was where I thought I was meeting a lower-level development person and it turned out not to be the case. He was a producer! I went to another meeting where I had not fully realized who I was seeing company-wise. I thought they were a small company with not much clout so I was kind of 'take it or leave it' about the meeting until at the last moment I realized that this company was part of a big powerhouse 800 pound gorilla company but I hadn't made the connection. Once I knew this, I went into the meeting with a whole different enthusiasm level. Another company I went to see, again I just thought, judging from their previous work that they wouldn't be open to my new pitches. I went into the pitch and the guy was VERY interested in the pitch and 'got it' exactly. Again, don't pre-judge the meeting. Be open. You never know who you're talking to or what they may be looking for. Remits change.

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Old 07-11-2005, 12:28 PM   #36
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Default Re: Meeting tips

i was going to post this on another thread, but it seems relevant here - how does everyone arrange these meetings? are they set up through personal connections, or random submissions? and how does one go about getting the interest of a CE to pitch something?

i realized soon after moving here that the only road to take was this mysterious 'networking' one that i heard so much about, yet had a very difficult time in finding. i know this is like trying to explain to someone how to enjoy wine, but how do you network if you don't know anyone? all the people i come across are either trying to get a leg up like myself, and are completely superficial and unreliable, or have some degree of clout and share no interest in dealing with a 'bottom-feeder'. any suggestions? should i be joining a club or something?
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:43 PM   #37
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Default Re: Meeting tips

Generally meetings are arranged through your agent or manager. That's how it happened with me. I struggled for years going to pitch sessions, workshops, etc., but only after getting a manager and having a script "go wide" did I get my first real meetings -- these were meetings requested by the CEs after reading my material.

I've read where others have been able to arrange meetings just by calling up the production companies themselves. It's a mystery to me how they pulled that off.

How to get a manager or agent? There are a couple of ways, but first you need a really good high concept script as a calling card (and three would be even better.) At least you live in L.A. I'm still in the midwest. Even so, I never really had a problem getting read by an agent after pitching to them at a pitch session or via email or their websites.

I've recently left my management company, but I'm still getting read and sending out scripts because of contacts I made while I was with them. Networking is vitally important.
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Old 07-12-2005, 12:35 AM   #38
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Default Re: Meeting tips

I don't have an agent or manager. I pay a lawyer to submit my scripts if a prod. co. insists on one. Most don't. Many ask you to sign releases which I just sign. I arranged all 16 meetings that I had the other week in H'wood myself. I'm trying to focus on expanding my relationships with prod.. co's rather than seeking agents. I figure that if something works out, an assignment, a sale, dev. deal etc then an agent won't be far behind.

I've been going out 'wide' myself with my script and even though it is not resulting in a sale just yet I'm getting a great response to the writing which has given me the opportunity to pitch other projects. I was handed a project for my 'take' for a possible assignment by a company with a studio deal. The fact that I not only don't live in LA but live on another continent didn't seem to deter them. The dev. exec. LOVED my writing and, unless I'm missing something here, age (I'm no spring chicken ;-)) and location didn't seem to come into the equation.

Only one company was a pain in the butt. Although they agreed to meet me they wouldn't read my material without it coming via an agent. That was an exception. I'd say about 2 companies out of a 100 insisted on this.

I was listening to three talks on FadeIn's PitchPack series by Bo Zenga, Danielle Alexander and Robert Kosberg and they were all saying you don't need agents AND that when prod. co.'s say this it's because they're lazy and that you haven't sold them on the idea. Bo Zenga was saying that you need a producer not an agent because a real producer will hear no a thousand times and keep on going whereas an agent will drop the project after a few negative comments. They were also saying that agents are not sellers but deal makers, which is a bit of a generalization I think. I wouldn't say no to the Alan Gasmers or the Emile Gladstones of this world.

Most of their tips on how to get into the busines involved phoning people not snail or e-querying. Also they talk about the idea being king and that most writers don't bother focusing on developing a fresh, high-concept idea before writing their scripts and that's why they don't sell and why they don't get read. Interesting stuff and very entertaining too. Especially Bo Zenga. A lot of it was laugh out loud funny. Great insights into how these people broke into the business. Bottom line - they were smart and had the balls to walk into studios, prod. co.'s with, in some case, no writing samples, and got a deal based on strong ideas or true stories that they had found and optioned. Danielle Alexander's recommendation - don't ask for a read, ask for a meeting. Good stuff.

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Old 07-12-2005, 01:17 AM   #39
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Hi Steel Curtain,

Personally I find networking is overrated. It's like people who think that all the deals and connections in Cannes happen in the parties where everyone's drunk and the music is so loud that you can't hear yourself speak. Then you ask these people how many meetings they have set up prior to coming to the festival and they give you that look which says, uhhh...none. I prefer to meet people in their offices when they're sober, where there are no distractions (hopefully), and you have their full attention.

All my contacts have resulted from cold calls. From those cold calls I have met people who have then referred me to other people. I guess that's the networking bit but I've never been to a Hollywood party or a pitch fest. I do go to film festivals but I actually do very little networking there. 98% of my meetings in film festivals have been scheduled 2-3 weeks in advance. Hey, I'm not saying I'm a big A list screenwriter with loads of sales behind me because I'm not. I'm unsold, but, my Rolodex is getting fatter and I'm getting more and more access.

I'm a great believer in the cold call because once you meet that person it's no longer a cold call, you are no longer 'unsolicited', and it's your warm contact and you don't have to rely on someone else to get you that contact.

I don't work for FadeIn and I'm not getting a backhander from them but I think the techniques they recommend on that Pitch Pack CD set are on the money because I've been using those techniques myself for years and they do work. Unfortunately I know many people don't like using the phone but in my experience it is the most effective way.

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Old 07-12-2005, 06:59 AM   #40
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Default Re: Meeting tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCurtain
i was going to post this on another thread, but it seems relevant here - how does everyone arrange these meetings?

(snip-snip)

all the people i come across are either trying to get a leg up like myself, and are completely superficial and unreliable, or have some degree of clout and share no interest in dealing with a 'bottom-feeder'.
First of all, in Austin years ago I heard Shane Black talk (and have heard him say the same thing again since) -- he said, "Look around you, look at the people and friends you've got now who are all in the same place (ie: trying to get a leg up). This is your future, because you climb together." A large part of my "network" of friends in the biz are people who all started out at the bottom together -- and we ended up Nicholl Fellows, Disney Fellows, working in television very successfully, produced screenwriters, etc. There have been different times when we could help each other, either with advice, with support, sometimes with contacts. One person meets a producer who is looking for a certain kind of script and can say, "I know somebody who has that script," and you've got an "in," for example.

But the important thing is -- you don't form a network because the people in it are helpful for you, because of what they can do for you -- you simply become a group of friends who get along, who like each other, who are on the same wavelength. THIS is where the "who you know" comes from. People like to work with people they like. That's what meet-and-greets are about, largely. Do they like you, do they think, "Yes, I could work with this person?" or do they think, "Holy cow, what a diva, this guy is so full of himself!"

Don't look around trying to find somebody who can do something for you. Kiss of death. Just start attending things like DD get-togethers, any place where other writers are gathering for a social evening, and make friends. Forget about "who are you and what have you done lately" and just relax and make friendships.

As to how you get meetings -- well, that's pretty much on the strength of your script. You've got to make those cold calls, you've got to get your script read. If people read it and like it, they'll want to meet you. If they don't want to meet you, you need to keep working on the scripts -- there's a reason you can't get meetings, and what's more, there's no reason at all to have a meeting until somebody likes your writing.
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