NOTES FROM THE HOLLYWOOD TRENCHES (part one)

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Congrats Crash!

    I really appreciate you sharing this story and look forward to others.

    Pitching ideas - the whole face to face thing - is kind of scarey to me. It's unknown territory. I have this fear of walking into a room and being met with a bunch of blank stares and uninterested people. I fear I would say, "Uhmmmm" too many times.

    There are these radio contests sometimes where they get people on the air and the person has to talk for like 30 seconds about a specific topic and never say "Uhm" or "Ah". I'd flop!

    So what do you do? Stand in front of a mirror at home and pitch the idea to yourself? Do you check your facial expressions to make sure you don't look like a dweeb? Do you watch what you are doing with your hands? Are you standing during these meetings or sitting? Are you at a long conference table with you at one end and the producer person at the other <squinting to see if they are even awake down there>. Does it require a flip chart and some dry-erase markers?

    Questions - questions - questions.

    Tina

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    Guest replied
    Re: Laptop Dancing

    Welcome to the world of meetings. Sounds like you're off to a good start. As for not being clear or stuff going over their heads, get a good logline for every pitch and start with that. Doesn't mean it has to be a simple, stupid story. Just have something that will hook them into wanting to hear more. If they don't respond, rephrase it in the guise of going into a little more detail until you get a response. Follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) and don't EVER make them feel ignorant or undereducated.

    I can't tell if you were joking about the hip-hop quantum physics pitch. If you weren't joking, the thing wrong with the pitch is that there's nothing emotional and nothing that suggests a character's journey. It's like pitching "Rushmore" as "a story about a weird kid in school who creates clubs and puts on plays." Something like "a genius kid gets transplanted to an inner city school and in a desperate attempt to fit in he creates a hip-hop musical about quantum physics. But the thing he discovers is that his real genius is in music. He ends up being accepted and for the first time the kids in the school are interested in science." Okay, totally off the top of my head and probably not at all what you're pitching but you get the idea? Keep it simple. Short sentences. Get a conversation going. You want them to be asking questions about the characters and what happens next.

    One more piece of advice. Before you pitch, ask them all about what they're looking for. Listen closely, take mental notes then adjust your pitches accordingly. You don't change the story, just the way you present it.

    good luck. Knock em out. And I want my headshot back.

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    Guest replied
    Re: Laptop Dancing

    Sounds like they could get rid of most of those "D-people" and they wouldn't even be missed. Might lead to a better product, too.

    But who am I to question all that collective wisdom.

    lil

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    Guest replied
    Laptop Dancing

    Lil,

    It's just like any other job: If they like your resume (script), they call you in for an interview. They want to see if you're the kind of person they can work with. They want to see if you bathe semi-regularly.

    Screenwriting is about 95% job interviews, 5% jobs. It's like the personnel department has to look busy even when they aren't hiring (or only have one opening).

    Thanks to somebody's question on meetings on my site, I have an article on YOUR FIRST MEETING coming up in the new issue of Hollywood Scriptwriter newsletter.

    Here's something I DIDN'T mention in that article that I've been thinking about lately. Patrick Duncan (MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS) dresses all in black, wears skull rings, and often carries a gun to meetings. He's a really nice guy - but he has this image. He's a Viet Nam Vet, saw lots of combat (see his flick 84 CHARLIE MOPIC) and doesn't like people to waste his time. Though you'd think that carrying a gun to meetings might be a put-off, I think lots of people want to work with him BECAUSE he has this image. He's entertaining. A D-person can tell stories to their friends about the writer who packs at meetings. So I'm thinking about my IMAGE - I'm just a regular guy... so what can I do to make myself stand out in a busy D-person's memory?

    Something to noodle on.

    - Bill

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Part One...

    Congratulations to you on winning round one! Best of luck regarding future meetings. I am concerned about your friend Mitch...Is he okay? If a non-smoker begins to smoke there is obviously something wrong.

    Good Luck To You!

    LP

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: ******** Entertainment.

    Nobody sells ANYTHING for serious money without such preliminaries, to my knowledge.

    Sad but the truth...

    Remember all the advice from WCM/Gig/Steve RE the "meet and greet"?

    BTW, WCM (esquire), do I ever get an e-mail to send you the samples of my comic or toon?

    Luv to all (in my own fashion!), kosk

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: ******** Entertainment.

    Looking forward to parts two, three, four and five. Good luck.

    Doesn't sound like my idea of fun. Does anyone ever sell a script without all these dancing preliminaries?

    lilybet

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    ******** Entertainment.

    That development gal at ******** Entertainment is a looker. My first meeting with her a little over a year ago was right after lunch and she had spilled something on the chest area of her very tight top... It was hard not to look at that spot during the meeting. Because I get nervous talking with strangers, a friend suggested that I imagine them naked - that didn't work very well in this case.

    Those LAST SUMMER guys have a weird office - I joked that it was the processing station for screenwriting concentration camps. Chain link fence cubicles are a bit strange... who came up with that?

    Hold on to your keyboard CRASH, I'm sure there's more to come! I had one meeting in Beverly Hills near Rodeo where they kept me waiting - watching this damned "water scuplture" with the company logo - because they switched my meeting from the D-gal to the VP Production. This guy was on a tight schedule and gave me a half hour. I didn't get a job out of it, but maybe you will!

    Congratulations, man! Cool stuff!

    - Bill

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Head Shots

    Chief Iron Eyes Cody is crying because people like you destroy his native land. Give a hoot; don't pollute.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Head shots

    You threw a bunch of head shots into the air and watched them flutter into the Hollywood Hills. You littering bastard! I'll see to it that you NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN!

    Your mortal enemy,
    Couchguy
    Green Party Forever!

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Nice Story CRASH.
    That "Foot in the Door" must be a genuine thrill.

    Question... Are you working through an entertainment attorney to get your script read?

    BOL

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest started a topic NOTES FROM THE HOLLYWOOD TRENCHES (part one)

    NOTES FROM THE HOLLYWOOD TRENCHES (part one)

    It doesn't seem real anymore.

    My agent calls to tell me she's setting up a series of meetings with production companies for me. "They've read your script and they want to meet you," she says. "That's a big deal considering how everybody is backed up and insanely busy right now. Time is more valuable than ever and people are not giving it so freely these days."

    My first meeting was in Beverly Hills. I drove up to the beautiful FOX building where their offices is located, and as I parked my car in the garage, I mentally prepped myself for the meet-and-greet. I was scheduled to have a sit-down with the VP of Creative Affairs. Once I was in the production offices, the receptionist told me to have a seat and wait. I waited in the lobby, staring at the posters of SEVEN, THE FUGITIVE, and A PERFECT MURDER surrounding me. A finely dressed Asian guy sat across from me. He peeked over his copy of VARIETY and asked me, "Are you here for the assistant job?" "No," I told him, "They liked one of my scripts and wanted to meet me." He just nodded, expressionless. "Hm," He said, "I'd like to finish my script, but life keeps getting in the way." Before I could respond, I was shuffled into my meeting. The VP of Creative Affairs sat me down at her couch as she sat behind her desk, leaving a great distance between us. "We loved your script," she said. "Even though it's too small for us, there's a lot of talent there. You're always welcomed here at ******** Entertainment. We want to work with you. If you ever have any ideas we'd love to hear them." I told her about my current script, a big budget action movie. She got very excited and told me she wanted to read it when I was done. "You write good characters," she said, "And a writer who can write good characters and good action is rare." The meeting lasted almost an hour. As I left, we shook hands, and the VP said, "Keep in touch. We want to work with you." I forgot to validate my parking ticket and ending up paying $8.00 to have that meeting. I didn't care. I was glowing.

    I was cleaning out my files. It's about time because things were beginning to stack up and clutter my room. As I was shifting through my junk, I found a folder full of head-shots. Head-shots of actors and models, of friends and strangers. That's what happens when you live in LA, you collect head-shots and scripts. Where they come from you never know. But they always wind up in your room. As I flipped through the photos, I asked myself, Why do I keep them? And why the hell do I have a file for them? The next day I hiked up to Griffith park with my actress friend, Gina. Even though I told her we were going to go hiking, she still wore her high heels. I had my file full of headshots with me. As we hiked uphill, Gina cried out to me from a few paces behind, "Are you really going to get rid of those head-shots?" I nodded, "Yeah, they're useless to me." Once we reached the top of the hill, we paused for a second, staring down on the Los Angeles landscape. We shared a moment. What exactly it was, I don't know. I opened my file. Gina gestured to it, "My picture is not in there is it?" "No," I answered, "You never gave me one." "Oh yeah," she said, "That's because I'm never happy with mine." With the wind dancing around us, the Hollywood sign to our backs, I tossed the file into the air and watched it rain beautiful faces. Before they even had a chance to shine, the stars were already falling.

    My other meeting that week was in Santa Monica. The first thing that greeted me when I walked into their offices was a poster of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. The place was crawling with beautiful, young female executives and assistants. I met the Executive VP of Production (a beautiful, young female herself) and some Development guy wearing an Aerosmith T-Shirt. The VP was still on the phone when I sat down in her office, but the Development guy whispered to me, "Loved your script. Where'd you get the idea? Everytime I drive under the Hollywood over-pass on the 101 I pray to God a bag of money would drop into my car." I was quite flattered as he was referring to a pivotal scene in the third act of my script. The first thing the VP said when she got off the phone was, "Loved your script. What else do you got?" I started to pitch some of my ideas and I think either I was not clear enough or it just went over their heads, because when I finished the Development guy was quiet and the VP just rubbed her eyes and said, "I should have gotten more sleep." I apologized to them for not being more concise with my pitches. "No, no," the VP said. "I get it. I see it. It's like a parable, right?" I politely nodded. "Do you have anything more teen-oriented?" She asked me. "Well," I hesitated, "I'm thinking about writing a quirky comedy about this high school genuis who plans to stage the world's first hip-hop musical about quantum physics." They stared at me blankly. Then they threw some of their ideas at me. The VP told me about this huge sci-fi script they owned and they wanted me to re-write it. She explained that it was a bad script with a good idea, and that maybe I was the right guy to fix it cause, "I was a writer with substance." I told her I would look it over and get back to her. On the way out, we shook hands and she said, "I'm sending your script over to some friends at Columbia. They should know who you are." I thanked her and on the way out waved bye to the poster of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.

    It's late. The phone rings, stopping me from my writing. I answer it. "It's me," says my friend, Mitch, the entertainment lawyer, "Be ready in ten minutes. I'm coming to pick you up." Before I can respond, he hangs up. Nine minutes later I'm standing out in the street and Mitch pulls up in his BMW. "Hop in!" He commands. I do exactly that. Mitch doesn't seem himself, a little nervous, edgey. "How's the writing coming along?" Mitch asks. I think back to the Asian guy in the waiting room and almost steal his line about life getting in the way. Instead I say, "It's going fine." Mitch lights a cigarette. He doesn't smoke. "Would you stay in the car if I told you I did something really, really bad?" He asks. I contemplate this as I watch Mitch try to hide behind the secrecy of his cigarette smoke. "Keep driving," I say to him. Now, to be honest, I don't remember if Mitch went on to recant some true life story or he was just setting up a joke, because at that moment his words blurred in my head as I thought about how it doesn't seem real anymore. But it is real. It's real blood I taste when I bite my lip, and real dreams I have at night, although night, day...it's hard to tell anymore.
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