As a Hollywood writer, you may expect to take meetings. A lot of them.
Yesterday NoFilmSchool published an article worth reading: 5 Hollywood Meetings You Should Master and How to Do It.
When you’re first starting out, meetings can feel more than a little intimidating, and you might even struggle to figure out how you get yourself in a conversation with the right person. Fortunately, The Writer’s Guild Foundation put together an eclectic panel to help advise up-and-coming television writers about how to start getting meetings, and what to do once you find yourself in these sessions.
Moderated by esteemed writer, documentary auteur, and comic book creator Brandon M. Easton, the four person panel featured acclaimed story and career consultant Jen Grisanti of Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Paradigm agent Jennifer Good; Senior Vice President at Warner Bros. Television Christopher Mack; and celebrated writer Kira Snyder, whose credits include work on The Handmaid’s Tale, The 100, and the upcoming Pacific Rim: Uprising.
Here are the meetings discussed at the Writer’s Guild Foundation events as detailed in the article:
- Getting your first meeting
- Meeting with potential representation
- The exploratory meeting
- The all-important pitch meeting
- The staffing meeting
I’ll just excerpt advice from one of the five: Meeting with potential representation.
Once you get that foot in the door and you’ve met some people, the first thing to consider is getting representation, and the panel’s unanimous directive was to pursue a manager first. “Managers have smaller businesses,” Good says, “so if a manager reads your script and wants you, they’ll refer you to agents, and that will work far better than if you’re simply cold calling an agent.” If you do find yourself making cold contact though, she says, “calls just aren’t going to get through. But if you send an email and there’s some connective tissue, whether it’s alma mater, or your friendship with a client, that kind of stuff is going to get my attention.”
Once you’ve utilized that connective tissue to get yourself a meeting with potential representation, you need to take care to make sure you’re hooking up with someone that is a good fit for you. Snyder suggests you “ask who the manager’s clients are,” and encourages pursuing smaller management teams, because “they will hustle really hard for you.”
Mack adds that you should try to determine who understands you and your needs. “Make sure they understand your material and what your goals are. Remember that you’re the one doing the interviewing. The agent works for you. They help you, but an agent is also only 10% of your net worth. You’re the other 90%.”
Good also throws in a reminder that “anybody can be a manager, so you need to be a little bit careful. Talk to your support group about who you’re meeting and don’t do anything a manager wants to charge you for.”
I’ve been preaching the same approach for years on the blog: Target managers first, not agents. And Snyder’s advice is probably the best tack for a new writer in Hollywood: Seek smaller management outfits. Larger, more prestigious ones have an upside in terms of access to buyers, however you can get lost in the shuffle as they service more established writers. You want someone who is smart, savvy, passionate about you and your writing.
The info on pitching is also solid reading. Interesting to see the approach Gresanti details is much the same we use at my school (DePaul School of Cinematic Arts) when working with students.
I’ll add one more piece of advice: Before you have a meeting, research the company and the people you’ll be meeting with. Easy to do with the internet. If it’s a studio or production company, familiarize yourself with movies or TV series they have been involved with for the last 5 years or so. If it’s a manager, do due diligence and track down biographical information if you can. That will not only help you during the obligatory schmooze session to begin the meeting, it will also impress who you’re meeting with because you were proactive in prepping for the interaction.
Finally this: Don’t be an asshole. People in Hollywood like to work with the people they like to work with. Your goal: Be one of THOSE people.
For the rest of the NoFilmSchool article, go here.