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Old 04-09-2007, 11:14 PM   #11
Geoff Alexander
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackgreenman View Post
Hey guys,

I used to be a frequent poster. But I just moved out to LA, so I'm sure I'll be posting a lot in the near future.

I'm very new to (and neurotic about) this whole process. And I'm second-guessing myself at every turn... so bear with me.

Based on a spec script, I have a meeting with a development exec at a well known prodco. I had a connection with the production head... he liked my pitch and script... and forwarded it to the development department. And they wanted a meeting. By the way, I'm still not repped, though I'm talking to a number of people.

My question is this... the draft they're looking at is about 4 months old... and newer drafts of the script are IMMEASURABLY BETTER. Should I email the exec a new draft of my script? Is that something that's normally done? Maybe she already has notes prepped, and a new draft might address those notes. Will it just be seen as wasting her time?

Anyway... if anyone has been in a similar situation, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Also, feel free to tell me if I'm overthinking things.

-Jack
JimJim gave you good advice. You'll talk about the script, the exec will give you some thoughts and ask what you're doing with it. That gives you an opportunity to talk about the rewrite and bounce around ideas to make it better, which is a great way to sort of cement and humanize the conversation. If you are on the same page on the rewrite and the exec really liked it, it might spark a second look, you never know.

You really should be ready to talk about another idea or two. Some things that you've worked out well enough so they won't sound half-assed or stupid. I had a meeting recently where a manager brought their client in to talk about a film they'd just done that they needed help on. After that part of the conversation was over, it was "what are you working on." She said she was working on something that she'd been into for the last couple of years. When asked, so, what's it about, she literally couldn't pitch it. She said, well, it's sort of like this and sort of like that, but, well, it's really hard to explain. I just can't explain it. That was it. She couldn't explain the script she'd been working on for the last couple of years.

I mean, maybe she hadn't thought she'd be pitching or talking about another idea, but don't you think maybe you'd be ready to do something like that? Man, it was so painful. You could feel the embarassment pouring off the manager. Of course, it was the manager's fault for not prepping his client properly. Anyway, the upshot is, be ready to pitch one or two coherent ideas.

Ask the exec what they've got going on that he/she is excited about as well.

And don't overthink it, it's just a conversation.
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Old 04-10-2007, 01:12 AM   #12
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

SB hit it home. If an exec is bringing you in they felt your work was good enough for a meet, though chances are the script wasn't right for them... not to say it never will be. And, it could be perfect, but something just didn't click for the company. But yes, the #1 thing, in my opinion, is to be ready to talk about what's next for you, what you've got in your back stock of work, and what your looking towards career-wise. And I think one of the best things, is while you want to keep the meeting professional, go semi-pro. A good mix of indstry talk, your work, recent projects or news, etc. etc. This meeting is a lt like a blind date, you know a little about each other from friends, but you've never met face to face, so the easier you settle in to an ease of conversation the better it will go.

Oh, and I've seen some people from time to time suggesting that when you meet a producer or exec you ask them for a referral to a rep. Personally, I strongly disagree with this. If you've just met someone, don't ask them for a favor... at least not on the first meeting.
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Old 04-10-2007, 02:03 AM   #13
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

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Ask the exec what they've got going on that he/she is excited about as well.
In fact I'd suggest you do your homework on the execs company, know what things they've got in the pipeline. I'm sure it will come in handy during the conversation.
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Old 04-10-2007, 11:19 AM   #14
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

I think rock gives solid advice, but in this particular case, since the meeting was generated by an obviously solid relationship with someone already at the company, asking for help in this area seems a natural extension from the help the writer is already receiving from the production executive who set all this up in the first place.

That is of course provided they get along. It would be my guess that this meet and greet came from a combination of the quality of the material and the connection (but let's not get started on that), not just one of those two.

If this meeting had been generated off a query or a referral from someone outside, asking about reps would probably be presumptuous.

And there are different ways of asking. I wouldn't just say "Hey, can you refer me to an agent." I'd put it more like, "I've been starting to look at different agencies to send this to, is there anyone you guys work with you think I should call?" They'll either say no, yes, or offer to make the call themselves.

And since the caffeine is kicking in, I'll try to make a larger point, one tangential to the issue discussed above (i.e. - I'm not saying anybody advocated this - I'm now speaking in generalities) Too many folks buy into the idea that they need to come off as cool or already in the know or, better put, further along than they actually are. I think you need to act "age appropriate." If you are just starting out, freshly in LA and trying to get repped, then that's who you have to be with the people that you meet. And asking for help from people who are willing to help you is part of any person's evolution in this business. The truth is that people in this industry LOVE to do favors for other people that they like personally. Maybe they want to be a mentor. Or it makes them feel like they have juice and they know that they've got a chit they can call in at a later date. Whatever their reasons, people will happily make phone calls for other people (and that people could be you) if you ask the right way.

Now, the flip side is that they may say yes and then never do it, or their call will get blown off, or a hundred other things, but as long as you take that in stride, along with all the other BS that comes with the industry, life will go on.
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Old 04-11-2007, 07:09 PM   #15
jackgreenman
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

Hey guys,

Tons of great responses. I feel like I'm ready to rock and roll.

To SBS, yeah, I definitely have several strong pitches ready to go if it comes to that. I learned that lesson the hard way in previous meetings. You definitely don't want to get caught rambling incoherently about a half-formulated idea.

And to Jimjim... there is that question in the back of my mind. Do I owe the meeting more to the contact... or to the quality of my writing. Hopefully, it's a little bit of both. But, as always, I'll play it by ear.

By the way, Jimjim makes another great point about acting age-appropriate... I had never really thought about it. It would be hard for me to come across as cool, even if I tried... but being more or less myself has always worked for me in the past. So I'll probably just stick with that.

Thanks again guys... and I'll keep you posted.

-Jack
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Old 04-16-2007, 09:29 PM   #16
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

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Originally Posted by rockridesva View Post
SB hit it home. If an exec is bringing you in they felt your work was good enough for a meet, though chances are the script wasn't right for them... not to say it never will be. And, it could be perfect, but something just didn't click for the company. But yes, the #1 thing, in my opinion, is to be ready to talk about what's next for you, what you've got in your back stock of work, and what your looking towards career-wise. And I think one of the best things, is while you want to keep the meeting professional, go semi-pro. A good mix of indstry talk, your work, recent projects or news, etc. etc. This meeting is a lt like a blind date, you know a little about each other from friends, but you've never met face to face, so the easier you settle in to an ease of conversation the better it will go.
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Old 05-04-2007, 11:44 AM   #17
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I'm also a screenwriter who's only just starting to get paid, but I've been an executive for some time, and to me, part of the trick of this whole business is maintaining the perspective that there are no "higher-up's." If a screenplay can legitimately make a businessman money, then the writer is bringing value to that businessman's work by bringing the screenplay to his attention.

If someone walks into a business relationship with the feeling that they're imposing on someone else's time or worse, wasting it - that's exactly what will end up happening, every time. If you take the time to create content that gives way more than it asks for and follow it up with the time needed to get it into the hands of those that need it, you've done someone a huge favor and the only question is what your criteria are for doing business. Keeping that mentality lets your prospective buyers know you are there to help them.

If you show up asking for a favor or a break, then they will naturally assume you have nothing of value to give them in return. Why else would someone ask for a favor in a conversation about business?

Part of why people in this industry are so hard to reach is because there are so many people on the beg. To someone on the other side of the money desk all these writers and actors seem more or less like a horde of zombies. Most of them resist looking at the inherent value of their work, and how they can increase the value of their work. Most of them don't actually think their movie will make money. What they believe instead is that they are entitled to a piece of the American Dream, or perhaps Hollywood in particular, and they show up to demand it. When the first few doors get slammed in their faces, they resort to begging.

The kinds of movies most studios want to make are the kind that return a lot more money than they cost, and finding out which kinds those are is as easy as reading the trades and Box Office Mojo every week. individual producers may have more specific goals than making money in the broad sense, and those goals are pretty much transparent if you look at what movies they've made in the past, which anyone can at IMDB.

Many writers tell me they don't have the market knowledge to know where the money is or how to create value, and it's true. They don't. What they don't acknowledge is that the information has always been available to them, and that the responsibility is ours as writers to create things that serve our clients.

Writing a script on artistic merit alone is a noble thing. If nobility is the goal when you set out on the writing process - and I have a few scripts like this myself - then it falls to you to make sure that films gets produced. Don't expect someone else to serve your artistic vision. Instead of expecting unreasonable things from others, we need to expect more from ourselves.

Everyone is entitled to their own perspective, but some perspectives make success a lot more likely than others.
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Old 05-04-2007, 12:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: Meeting a Development Exec

Archive,

I enjoyed your thought-provoking post! Thanks.
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