Today, after having taken a sabbatical of over four months from the daily grind of Hollywood, I was introduced back into the wild.
The wild that is the “meet and greet.” “Meetings”, for those uninterested in learning the prose of Hollywood.
In a nutshell, however, it involves the practice of going around town to the studios, sitting down with VP’s and Development Executives at these production companies, and telling them about you, what you’re up to, what ideas you’re currently working on (so they can steal them) and find out what they’re all about.
The best part is the free water.
Honestly, the first time you go to one of these meetings, it’s always like going out on a date with someone for the first time. The awkward introductions. The choices of beverages. Stating ones intentions and goals. Most production companies like to tell you what they’re looking for (genre of script, etc) and what budget of movie they’re looking for.
This is my favorite part, because it’s so silly. I’m not kidding you when I tell you that when you ask someone at a production company what budget movies they’re looking to buy, they’ll tell you one of the following things:
“Two to fifty million dollar movies…” “Small movies under seventy million…” “If the writing’s good, cost doesn’t matter…”
They might as well just say, “Well, to be honest we’re trying to limit ourselves here due to the fragile nature of the film industry and keep our expenditures limited to only the well-written scripts whose budgets do not fall below 1 million and do not, in any way, exceed 500 million. Do you think you’ve got something we’d like that fits into that very narrow slot?”
Uh, maybe. Let me check my files.
The second most favorite-ist moment in these meetings is when Executives tell you something about their company that is different from all the companies. One day I went on six meetings and in each one the Executives said to me, “Just so you know, we are all about sticking with the same one writer throughout the process of a script. We don’t ever want to replace the screenwriter with somebody else.”
Me being the guy who says what’s on his mind, I once said to the sixth of six Executives that all day long people had been telling me the same thing. Obviously, in Hollywood, where writers are replaced at the drop of a hat, these companies were picking up a new “mantra” to keep the writers feeling good about their newfound development buddies.
Well, the Exec turned to me and said with the most honest and stone-faced look I’d ever seen… “The rest of those companies are lying to you. As opposed to us. Here, we embrace the writer.”
They are Executives AND actors. Who woulda thunk.
I once went to a meeting with an Executive who worked for Uber-Producer Scott Rudin (The Hours, The Truman Show, The Royal Tennenbaums, etc…) who must have been so bored with all the meet & greets she’d been holding court over for so long that she asked me if for our meeting I would be interested in accompanying her to get her car’s muffler fixed for the meeting. Sadly and funnily enough, I jumped at the chance. For once, I thought, it would be a unique non-cookie cutter meeting.
At least I had one.
The bottom line with these meetings, even if they stem from an amazing spec going out to town, is that executives are primarily meeting with you to keep tabs on anything you may be working on. This way, they are always up to date on EVERYTHING that’s being thought about and written about around town.
“In the know,” you know?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many potential gigs that come out of such meetings where Executives pitch you their dream ideas to see if you have a great take on it or you pitch your ideas to see if there’s anything to them… It’s a dialogue much like the kind you have with your friends and family, except for one very important thing.
The free water.