Reader Question: How should I handle an event where I will meet a Hollywood writer-producer?

I see a Barton Fink moment coming on!
  • Expectations: Keep them low. If all you get out the event is the opportunity to introduce yourself (do not give them a business card!), note your interest in screenwriting, and tell them how much you love their work, that’s enough. Why? Because then you can follow up by tracking down their assistant, call them up and say, “I was talking with so-and-so at so-and-so event” — which is true even if you just go the chance to say “Hello.” That should be enough for you to chat up the assistant (another good relationship to nurture). At some point, you can follow up with an email to the person you met (or even snail mail if you can’t get their email address), and remind them you met them, and here you can go into your background, interests, etc.
  • Ask questions: It’s the first rule of sales: Qualify your customer. Much easier to pitch something if you know what they’re about, what mood they’re in, etc. Besides people in Hollywood generally love to talk about themselves which is why you should remember this: God gave you two ears and one mouth… for a reason. You’d be amazed how warmly Hollywood types will think of you if all you do is nod your head and say these words every so often: “Really? Wow, that’s amazing. Are you serious?” Depending upon how the conversation goes, you may have an opportunity to open up about yourself, interests, and what not. Hell, if they take a liking to you, you could become part of their entourage before the night is through!
  • Be prepared: So if you do win them over and they ask, “So what’re you working on,” have your six word pitch at the ready. What’s that, you say? Six words? Yes, six words. Here’s my pitch for K-9: Stubborn cop. New partner. Police dog. Here’s my pitch for Trojan War: Infatuated boy. Dream girl. Find condom. If you get the opportunity, tell them something which will hook their interest.

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