As I’ve mentioned before in my blog articles, even with credits or not, a screenwriter’s job never ends with regards to either creating new material or constantly meeting, pitching and building an ever-expanding network of your “fans.” It’s days, nights, and weekends, folks. Anything else is a hobby.
One of the two recent meetings I had was a pitch meeting and the other a follow-up meeting after the exec read my TV pilots. Both meetings went very well and I’m extremely happy to add two more places with open doors. The pitch meeting was with an independent producer that I pitched to before, and this time I came ready with five new pitches—all in the same basic genre for her to consider. Now, what could have happened is that I pitched all of my ideas and nothing resonated with her, but luckily for me she picked three to further develop.
We’re moving forward with the three pitches and will work to tailor them to three specific networks with regards to their tone and scope. I have produced credits in the genre I was pitching, so it helped to make her feel confident that I could write the ideas I had pitched. Once we have a more detailed story locked down and she’s confident with it, she will hopefully schedule meetings and take me into the networks to pitch with her attached as producer. I now go into the important research process and have to watch a handful of the original movies that have aired on these particular networks to enable me to capture the tone of their material. I’ll bet you never figured one day watching movies would be considered research. It’s the best part!
The other meeting was a lunch with a development executive who works for a successful, old school producer with mega Hollywood credits. She read my TV pilots as they are branching into series television and she really liked the writing, but the projects weren’t the right fit for what her boss is looking to produce. She’s now a “fan” of my writing and we discussed in length the types of films/series ideas they do have in development with other important insights. Another invaluable door opened and a flag planted on the field of battle. I of course sent a handwritten “thank you” follow-up card to both producers as part of the professional code.
These are they types of meetings you will need to take on a regular basis to continue to build your network of relationships. Eventually one of your “fans” will buy your material or hire you to write their next project on assignment. It will happen if you stay in the game and build those necessary relationships. It’s happened for me nearly two dozen times being hired for screenplay assignment jobs. The process is ongoing and never ends as long as you’re writing. As with anything in Hollywood, you never know how events will turn out—good or bad. This is why early in my career I began to practice the art of detachment from any outcome of a meeting. This is important because it’s never going to turn out the way you envisioned. Never. Detachment helps you protect yourself from the many disappointments that meetings in Hollywood can deliver. You’ll want to wrestle control of your “highs and lows” to lessen the inevitable bumpy ride.
Always consider these meetings in the bigger picture of your overall journey and not just focus on the success of any specific meeting. Many times, a meeting is just a meeting and will end up being nothing more. But it’s always good to get out there and put a face to a name and a script. Remember, success does not happen with one script or one meeting, as it’s a long process of many steps and many meetings and a body of work that will show professionals you have something unique to offer.
So, dig in deep and get your latest project finished. Work on your pitches, one sheets, outlines, loglines, and completed scripts. Take the meetings and build those vital relationships that will serve you over the long haul journey to success. It’s not the romanticized idea of what a screenwriter does, it’s the reality of looking for your first — or next job. It’s all part of the process of a working screenwriter. Rinse, lather, and repeat. When it does finally happen, if it hasn’t already, you’ll take the meeting that launches your career when they want to buy your script or hire you to write a project on assignment. Your screenwriting career is not a Dali-esque delusion, but the result of work, talent, focus, sacrifice, patience, timing, and luck.
Keep writing and keep the faith. —Scriptcat
Copyright © 2022 Mark Sanderson. All rights reserved. My Blank Page blog.
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“Loooooove your script. Simply love it. Can we change the ending?” – Anonymous producers.
“It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.”—Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary, 5th Century B.C.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”—Pablo Picasso
“When the last dime is gone, I’ll sit on the curb outside with a pencil and a ten cent notebook and start the whole thing over again.” — Preston Sturges
“But the Artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer his whole life. In the hierarchy, the Artist faces outward. Meeting someone new he asks himself, “What can this person do for me?” “How can this person advance my standing?” In hierarchy, the Artist looks up and looks down. The one place he can’t look is that place he must: within.”—Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”
“Believe me that in every big thing or achievement there are obstacles — big or small — and the reaction one shows to such an obstacle is what counts not the obstacle itself.”—Bruce Lee
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