This week's Answer:
Preparing For The
Yes, Kelly, I do have some advice
about getting through pitch meetings.
As soon as you walk in the door and see four
staring execs, three frazzled development people, two
tired secretaries (and a pooped agent on a cell-phone!
Sung to the tune of “On The First Day of
Christmas” – or “On the First Day of the Beginning
of my Arduous Pitch Meetings,” announce that you need to
get over to Paramount in fifteen because they’re bidding
on the same project and they don’t like to be kept
should do it. Unless you’re already at Paramount. And, in that case, tell all the vacant-eyed “we’ve seen
it all” crowd that you just heard from your agent and
you’ve just signed for a three-pic deal so you probably
won’t even have the time to work on this project unless
they can make an offer you can’t refuse. But, come to think of it, that could be a problem, too,
especially if your agent is already in the room and is one
of those difficult types that doesn’t like to lie in
order to succeed. In addition, if the “what do you got ‘cause it better be
good” group actually told you that it was going to make
you an offer that you couldn’t refuse, you might be in
the wrong room (I keep warning writers to beware of
pitching at companies like “Vinnie and Luigi’s Make Me
Laugh Or Else Productions. -- and wrong part of the city)
and soon be trying on some new cement shoes at the bottom
of the nearest river. Not that cement shoes aren’t very nice. A little out of fashion, maybe.
And definitely not easy to dance in.
I understand your dilemma about the
angst that can come over you when you attend one of those
meetings, Kelly. I’ve been there. And
done that. But
here’s a different way to look at it, if I may be so
Robbins is big on reframing.
And I’m not talking about his house.
Or an oil painting.
Why not reframe this situation and see where it
leads you? If
I’m reading your correctly (literally and figuratively),
you have reached a point in your writing career where you
actually have the opportunity to talk to real, live studio
people (reminds me of the “pitch” to the male
population about coming into dark, alcohol-infested,
strobe-lit rooms where the “stronger” sex is told they
can see “real, live” nudes.
As opposed to “real, dead” ones, I guess.) who
really walk and talk and have titles like “executive
producer” and “co-executive producer” (“co” can
be a very cool word to tell people that you are.
Try it. Out of nowhere when the conversation has died, just
cavalierly mention that you’re a “co”-something or
Careful there, though.
They may think that all you do has something to do
with chocolate.) and “senior vice-president of
development of co-productions by co-executively produced
and developed productions of consulting co-producers and
(Can you imagine what it would be like to be the president
of that deal!? Did
you know that they get those titles by throwing drunken
parties and laughing their heads off while making up more
and more outrageous names that they can call themselves? Don’t be intimidated by those self-aggrandizing words.
They all have to get up and go to work like you do.
Although, probably not as early.
Don’t be fooled by appearances.
Open any page of the Creative Directory and it’s
likely that a good amount of those people you see are no
longer working at those companies.
Or, at least, have new titles such as
“co-executive custodian in charge of creative
Forget all the hype and posturing that goes on in those
the higher up those people go, the more worried
they are about falling.
Of course the room is usually tense.
There’s a lot on the line.
There’s big money at stake.
But the key is to stay with yourself.
Remember that you have something to offer that may
solve their problem.
And, believe me, they have problems.
Just decide that you have the solution for them.
You have the script that will put them back on the
map (or, at least, allow them to buy a new one).
Here’s a few pointers for when you walk into a
pitch meeting: 1) Be yourself. (If
you’re anybody else, your agent won’t know where to
send your 90%. I
do believe that if agents were truthful, that’s how
they’d see their relationship to their writers.
“He’s taking 90% of my hard earned money that I
toiled for by making that two minute phone call!
We agents need to form a union and fight for our
rights and not let those greedy writers take advantage of
call it AAW. Agents Against Writers.
We’ll show ‘em.
2) Remember which script you’re pitching.
(Pitching a slasher film to Do Good Productions
might not cut it. Bad
and finally... don’t forget to 3) Wow them with all the
charm and pizzazz you can muster because this is your
moment, your moment in the sun.
Your destiny calls you.
Your one chance to lift yourself out of the morass
known as your pitiful, miserable life.
You’ve got to shine for all you’re worth or
forever fall into the fiery pit of shame and
they want, give it to them.
Even if it means compromising yourself and
surrendering the last ounce of your self-respect.
Do whatever it takes for them to utter those
immaculate and holy grail-like words that will change your
life into the happy ending you’ve always craved:
“We’ll get back to you.”
Or, an alternative number 3 would be:
3) Breathe. And
don’t worry. Whatever
happens, you can always be a “co-screenwriter in charge
of her own co-creative destiny.” Has a nice ring to it,