Ok great, now you know what NOT to do, but wouldn’t you like to know what TO do? And by the way, Elizabeth and my friends at Voyage Media know what they’re talking since they’ve been in the business of helping the top writers, producers and directors sell their films and TV shows for over 9 years.
So Elizabeth and I put together a short list of tips that’ll make a big difference in terms of how you deal with agents and execs (pay close attention, these are straight from the horse’s mouth)!
Expect execs be asses, and then you’ll be happy when they’re not (yes, an exec said that)! Most execs and producers really are nice, courteous people. But they’re busy. And that leads to bad behavior with writers. They keep you waiting. They’ll send texts and leave the meeting to deal with their bosses. Don’t let it shake you. It’s a sad truth that the deck is stacked in favor of the buyer, not the seller. That means: you drive to their part of town. You wait, and you’re understanding if they have to reschedule a million times.
SPEAK THE WAY THEY SPEAK
If they speak in trailer moments, speak in trailer moments. If they like to hear the hero’s backstory and full journey, pitch that. Bob Weinstein is notorious for saying “I can see the movie poster!” or worse, “I can’t see the poster”. Know these things before you go in.
BE PREPARED TO TURN ON A DIME, AND (OF COURSE!!) HAVE OTHER IDEAS IN YOUR BACKPOCKET
Meetings change. What started out as an hour, can quickly turn into, “I’ve got another meeting, so you’ve got 15 minutes”. If they throw you a curveball, take it in stride. You come in thinking you were going to talk about one project. But then the exec brings up another project entirely. What do you think of this… Don’t be thrown off. This is a good thing! It usually means they’re interested in something.
HAVE SOMETHING THEY CAN DO SOMETHING WITH
Now more than ever, it’s the writers responsibility to know what’s selling and to whom. If you have an idea or two (in addition to your obscure passion project) that you know fills a definite need, they’ll probably reach out and hug you! Really all an agent or exec wants is something (good) that they can get sold and made. It’s not much more complex than that. Seriously. And it’s important to remember that. If you can solve problems for the agent or exec, you’re going to be a hero. So remember to be one of the GOOD ONES – be helpful and make a difference in their lives – this may be the most important thing of all!
If you want to find out QUICKLY what works and what doesn’t with a particular script or project you have, Elizabeth and my friends at Voyage Media have just introduced these really cool sessions where you work one-on-one with an a-list producer/executive who reads your material and strategizes with you how best to pitch it and sell it in the marketplace. The sessions are super-enlightening and fill you in on who is doing what and with whom, how your project might get greenlit, and how to approach agents & execs with your pitch —this is stuff you can’t read in the trades – so that you don’t blow it when your moment comes.
And for now, until next week, the sessions are $100 off. Click here for more details.
Everyone knows that to be a successful writer, you need to write well. But your reputation goes WAY BEYOND writing. I was talking with my friend Elizabeth Kushman (an exec at Voyage Media) and we got to talking about what life was like at her previous job as VP of Development at Dimension Films and what seemed to work (and what didn’t) when writers would approach her.
The main questions you should be asking yourselves are:
Will agents, producers and executives want to work with you? And once they’ve worked with you, will they want to work with you again?
So, we came up with three things never to when you’re trying to get in the door:
1. IF THEY ASK YOU TO SEND SOMETHING, DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S “PERFECT” TO SEND IT!!!
After a call to an agent or manager (or a producer or executive, if you get through to them) send them something. If someone says they want to see your work, SEND IT RIGHT AWAY. If you wait too long perfecting a draft just for them, they may forget who you are.
2. DON’T FORGET TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND NEVER, NEVER ADD LAME ATTACHMENTS
If a writer is consistently pitching or sending out specs similar to ideas that are already in the works somewhere else -= they start to think quite simply that they’re amateur. And if you do have a script that is similar to another major project, be prepared to explain the ways in which yours is different thand the other, and still unique and cook in its own way. Showing up at a meeting and not knowing what else is out there is a BIG no no! Also, make sure you’re not attaching people that aren’t “in the know” anymore, like washed up actors and actresses from the latest soap that got canceled — instead make sure you get meaningful attachment, like a hot director producer or talent.
3. DON’T GET ANNOYED IF THEY’RE CRITICAL
An exec told me a great story of a young writer she hired to come up with a take. They worked a few months. The exec’s boss read the script, he liked it. Read the pitch sheet, liked it and gave her notes. Then the writer pitched him, and he hated it. Sad, but it happens. The exec told the writer “I’m sorry, but no thanks. Let’s work on something else in the future.” But the writer called the exec up to yell at her. That executive will never work with that writer again.
Now you know what not to do. To learn what to do, come back in a week for the post.
Michael Wiese Productions publishes most of the top selling entertainment books out there. Many of the ones listed under my Books section were published by Michael Wiese Productions. You will want to check out their website. It is an outstanding resource for writers and includes books, events by their authors and great blogs on writing.