Business of Screenwriting: Meetings Matter

By Michele Wallerstein

I notice that clients don’t seem to know what they want in their career conferences with me.  I offer these conferences to help writers and other would-be filmmaking professionals so that I can help them define and achieve their goals.  They pay me a fee and we set up a time and place.  Once we have our coffees in front of us and are seated comfortably, there is often a short silence.  I wait for their outpouring of questions.  They are not forthcoming.  “What is it you want me to help you with?” I ask.  There is a bit of stammering accompanied by a small grimace.  It seems that they just want me to miraculously know what they need and to tell them the brilliant bits of knowledge that will open the magic doors of Hollywood.

meetings matter

Once I see what is happening I explain the procedure to them and try to find out what they might want to ask and, more importantly, what they need to know.  Often the client doesn’t really know how to get the right information.  I have to figure it out for them.

All of this leads me to understanding why some folks get ahead in their fields and why some don’t.  You have to know the questions.  Take heed people, all meetings are important.  They tell who you are.  Even silences send out information like arrows to the recipient.  Be prepared for your meetings, whether you are paying for them, asking for them, or are asked to be in attendance at them.  Think through what the agenda will be or needs to be.  Ask friends about their meetings. It’s not that difficult if you know why you are there.  If an agent sets you up for a meeting with a Development Executive or a Producer, they will want to discuss the script of yours that they’ve read and will want to know what else you have.  That means finished scripts or even ideas for new scripts.  You want to ask them what you can do so that you can work for their company.  Hopefully you will have done your homework and so that you will know the type of movies this company makes.

If you are meeting with an agent for potential representation, you will want to know how interested they are in you.  You’ll want to see if they will read any of your scripts, other than the first one that you sent to them.  You will want to know what you should do so that they will sign you aboard.

Every single meeting you have about your writing is an important one.  It may be that you are meeting someone who is on a low rung of the studio ladder; however you are in this for the long run.  The people you meet early on will be moving upward at a fast pace and will remember you if you have a good meeting.

If you are meeting people higher up on the ladder, you must be very sure about the projects you pitch as well as how you present yourself.  This means that you must dress nicely, speak up and speak clearly.

Once you figure out what you want to accomplish, the rest is easy.

OK, now, dress nicely and go to that meeting.

mind-your-business-michele-wallerstein_mediumMichele Wallerstein’s book: MIND YOUR BUSINESS: A Hollywood Literary Agent’s Guide to Your Writing Success may be purchased via The Writers Store, E-Bay, Amazon.com (in paperback and on Kindle) and local book stores.

 

 

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One thought on “Business of Screenwriting: Meetings Matter

  1. Christopher Phillips

    Great article, Michele.

    I was just at a roundtable at Austin and most of the people at my table didn’t utter a word. Fortunately, I heard early on to be prepared. There is the initial shock and awe when an important industry person sits right next to you. David Boxerbaum (Paradigm) was our first panelist. He’s all business, but was certainly willing to answer questions so I fired away. By being prepared, he was able to be candid with us about the business and give us good direction. So it was a great learning experience to make sure I always do my homework.

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