Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pressing the flesh

You've sent of your pride and joy script and holy of holy's an indy prodco calls. 'English, we loved it. Would you like to come in for a chat?'


Except not really. Most meetings are a pain in the arse waste of time. I don't do many. Hell I've only met my agents face to face once in the last year.

But they've got to be done. The kind of meeting above you pretty much know it is really only a 'name to a face' jobby. If they loved the script that much they would be making option noises. But off you trudge. Because names and faces are what builds contacts. You may never see them again, but they are a contact.

Next time you send something in to them they may read it in weeks not months.

Next time one of their first choice writers for a show drops dead or goes insane they may call you. [That's pretty much what it takes for a writer to get on some shows]

So I'll have a shave, make sure the jeans aren't too stained and trudge into Soho, or White City or South Bank, or Horseferry Road - because it's nearly always Soho or White City or South Bank or Horseferry Road.

The breeze will be shot. Pleasantaries exchanged. The project will be briefly complimented. Then comes the 'but'.

The 'but' is usually along the lines of........

'We have something similar in development.'

'Though we loved the writing it's not a concept that fits our slate.'

'We love it but we don't really see a market.'

At this point you do not think 'why the fuck are you wasting my time then?' Banish that from your mind.

You continue with your infectious enthusiasm and self depricating wit - for about 30 seconds, and if in that time they haven't asked you what other ideas you have you damn well tell them. Because really that is the whole purpose of the meeting.

They want you to think of them first when your next big idea hits you. They want you to think 'hey these would be great people to work with'. They want you to go to them and not Joe Soap Productions up the road [probably above a sex shop]

In other words, much as validation is always appreciated, they are not doing you any favours, they are hoping you will do them a favour.

But you must never let them know that you know that they know that.

And here's the thing. People move on. Very quickly. Next time you see that girl who brought the coffee she might be a script editor on a network serial drama. So be nice.


Dave said...

'We have something similar in development.'

'Though we loved the writing it's not a concept that fits our slate.'

'We love it but we don't really see a market.'

Isn't this the point where you use your marketing and sales skills to get in on what they are looking for?

"Well, I'm glad you like it. Perhaps you've got another project going that needs someone with my particular skills or voice, to really bring it to the next level?"

English Dave said...

Welcome Dave.

Yep. You're right. But you also have to be aware that overselling yourself can be harmful too. Like a mating ritual between hedgehogs. Approach it carefully.

Smart, funny and malleable seems to be the way to go.