Today’s question comes from Monessa, who writes:
Page 329 of your book, Small Screen, Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business, has a quote about business cards for networking, but only mentions it should have my email address and phone number on it. Do you have any suggestions of what an aspiring TV writer/screenwriter’s business card should contain beyond that? Is it supposed to be colorful?
Interesting question, Moneesa! (FYI — the quote Moneesa’s referring to is from E! associate editor Jennifer Godwin: “Get business cards. Actual business cards with an actual corporate logo are obviously sexier than ones you make on your laser printer, but if it has your email address on it, it serves the purpose.”)
Jennifer’s quote is referring mostly to business cards used by people in corporate positions: executives, agents, etc. (After all, she works at E!.) But writers need a slightly different approach.
Los Angeles is full of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of aspiring screenwriters desperate to prove they’re talented, creative, and interesting. And many of these screenwriters are looking to prove they’re talented, creative, and interesting any way they can … including their business cards. Anything that can catch someone’s eye, they figure, is a valuable tool. They’re wrong.
The way to prove you’re talented, interesting, and creative is NOT through your business card … but through your writing skills and personality.
In face-to-face interactions, most writers don’t even use business cards — they simply write down their info when they need to — and and they’re not expected to have business cards. I’ve never heard an agent, executive, or producer ask a writer for his/her card … and I’ve never heard a professional writer offer it. But if you’d like a card, at least have a “respectable” one. Here’s what I mean by “respectable” …
If people want your business card — and most people won’t — they want it for one reason … and they are NOT trying to see if you’re creative or interesting.
They simply want your most basic contact information, and they want it quickly.
So I don’t advise people to come up with the quirkiest, funniest, most unique, or interesting card possible.
For me, the best business card for a screenwriter is pure and simple:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Facebook page
- Twitter handle
I can’t tell you how many business cards I see from aspiring screenwriters that have one or more of the following:
- A quote from their favorite movie, book, or song
- A picture of a quill, film reel, or typewriter
- Some clever business title, like “Film Geek” or “Self-proclaimed Nerd” or “Literary Genius”
- A short resume or list of scripts they’ve written, projects they’ve worked on, etc.
- Some filmic “gimmick,” like printing the card in Final Draft Courier font so it looks like a screenplay
I know people who are doing these things are trying to be clever, to stand out and look funny, cute, or creative … but it actually only makes them look silly and desperate; it simply proves how hard they’re trying too hard.
Your talent and creativity should not be shining through in your business card …
It should be shining through in your writing, and in the sparkling personality you bring with you to a general meeting, a pitch, or any kind of networking situation.
So my advice is plain and simple: the facts and just the facts.
Thanks so much for the question, Moneesa! If you, or anyone else, has other questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me @chadgervich, or post them in the comments section below!
Lastly — if you’re interested in TV-writing, I’ll be speaking at a great event this February 11-12, 2012 … The TV Writers Summit, a two-day event here in Los Angeles featuring some of the best TV writer/producers, execs, consultants, and teachers out there: Jen Grisanti (former VP at CBS/Paramount and Spelling Televsion), Ellen Sandler (Everybody Loves Raymond, Coach), and Troy DeVolld (Basketball Wives, The Bachelor, The Surreal Life). We’ll be covering pilot-writing, breaking stories, the basics of reality TV, and how to break into the industry and launch a career. If you’re interested in registering, or just learning more, click HERE … or like the Facebook page!