Clear Information to Help Writers Understand the Entertainment Industry
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
THE WRITER'S COUCH
OK, so a development exec read your script and liked it. Maybe they want to buy it, but odds are they don’t. That’s no reflection on you, that’s just the percentages. Most of the time when you have a meeting it will not be because you’re making a sale, but because someone liked your work, however it wasn’t the right fit for them or missed the mark a bit. Now they want to know if you might have something stuffed in a drawer, or that you're working on that could be cool. Take it from me, yes I was once a naïve writer too, don’t go in there thinking because you had one hot script that now your'e in a position to get a paid assignment. Odds are 9/10 you’re not. And remember, an unpaid assignment is just working for free, they are not the same.
So you walk into the office and inevitably there is “the writers couch.” Most offices are too small for a real couch, so it’s almost always a loveseat. If you write with a partner get used to sitting really close to them- use deodorant.
The meeting will start out with 5-10 minutes of small talk followed by the D-person asking something to the effect of “So what are you working on.” Which really means “please tell me you're working on some really cool stuff that we can set up and turn into amazing and profitable movies so I can get a promotion or move to a better production company than this shi@#y place.”This is where your preparation is going to come in, because you’re going to have:
1) 3 projects you can pitch them. No more than 5-10 minutes on each and you can do this by heart. You don’t have to pull out a piece of paper. And while you're pitching, observe whether they are into it or not. (I’ll write more on the theory of the “Execudot” another time) If not, move to the next one. We’ve got a client who can literally go in with 10 things. He pitches the hook, sees if they bite, if yes, gives them the rest and, if no, moves to the next one. It’s beautiful. And because he’s not married to any ONE project, the development exec. doesn’t feel any pressure to soft-pedal his or her response, and often enjoys the process more.
2) The knowledge of what this company is producing and has produced in the past.
3) A generally pleasant personality. Because they're also getting to know you and deciding whether, or not, they may want to work with you in the future. Nobody wants to work long hours with Debbie Downer, or some totally introverted freak. Everybody wants to work with nice, fun talented people. So be that guy. This, and pitching well, are what’s referred to being “Good in a room.” It's good to be "Good in a room," trust me.