Monday, December 18, 2006

Learning to Pitch

I love learning.

I love doing things I have never done before.

I hate pitching.

It's probably because I grew up with this mentality that "to sell yourself" is akin to prostitution. Can you tell I was raised Catholic? Ironically, I am all for prostitution... just not my own.

I had a meeting this morning with a producer of a low end production company. I figured this would be a safe place to start. Little did I know, they recently purchased a spec that was the subject of a fierce bidding war for six figures.

I know! I didn't think that sort of thing still went on. And if it did, most certainly, only by the big boys.

Well it does. Low end, high end alike, are looking for one thing: a spec with a good hook. But the question is how does a screenwriter get a producer to actually read a spec? By pitching it to them in one form or another.

I sent a query letter. They responded and asked to meet with me.

Contact!

I arrived at the address that Studio System has. I pushed the buzzer labeled with their production company logo. It rang, until I got the "this number is no longer in service" message.

Great start.

Luckily, I had their number still on my cell. I called and they told me they relocated. Fine. Pushing aside the thoughts of "where the hell did they come up with six figures to pay for a spec," I crossed the threshold into the realm of the producer.

I was greeted by a kid who looked much too young to be a producer. In his office we exchanged niceties and then he said "What do you got?"

Man, was I not prepared for that.

I stammered. Choked. Resorted to reading off a paper I had brought with me. Basically, sucked ass. And it showed on this kid producer's face. He wasn't interested at all. Not that you could tell from the exchange of dialogue. He was very pleasant and engaging. It was at this point that I deciphered some producer "code."

He said, "You got anything else?"

Nearing panic, I pitched a secondary project I have been working on. His face lit up. At the moment in the logline/pitch/bullshit session, where you reveal the ironic twist of your story, he laughed out loud. Yes, a true to god, lol.

A second code phrase was uttered, "What happens next?"

Ecstatic, I revved up to tell him all about it, when someone else burst into the room. An older producer looking type.

OLDER PRODUCER: "Hey, I think that's my ten o'clock."
KID PRODUCER: "Oh yeah, I was wondering why I didn't have any information on this guy."

I was promptly traded, much like a worthless baseball card.

As I returned home, still trying to figure out where they got six figures to purchase a spec from, I found new resolve. Not for my old project, but for the new one.

The next step, in this writer's journey.

2 comments:

Matt Hader said...

The "kid producer" didn't get up and begin sweeping the floors, did he?

Great story, James.

James said...

Nah. In fact, he was a lot smoother and more "Hollywood" than the guy I ended up having my meeting with.

Thanks for the comment :)