Your reps should help you deal with this, but far too often, they will fail to prepare adequately you for a meeting, which is dumb because this is your opportunity to make them money. But there are certain things you must demand that your reps tell you beforehand:
- What material of yours was sent to these people, who specifically in the company read it, and what they had to say about it.
- Who exactly is going to be in the room. Hopefully with a physical description of each one.
- Who the decision maker in the room is.
- See if your rep can find out what open assignments might be pitched to you.
Once you have this info, do a massive amount of internet prep on your own:
- Get an IMDb Pro membership and learn everyone’s credits. Be ready to compliment each one on a project of theirs that you liked. Also, make sure to compliment the whole company if they had a hit movie that month. Sound like you’re already one of the team.
- While you’re on their IMDb Pro page, check out the company’s upcoming slate, and look for links to recent articles about their company philosophy and what they’re looking to acquire.
- You’ll really hit the jackpot if you can actually find an interview where they come right out and say what they’ve always wanted to hear in a pitch. Believe it or not, I’ve found this info more than once. People in this business love to talk about their process.
- If you know (or can guess) which project they might throw at you, then research the hell out of it, but don’t tell them that in the meeting. If they’ve optioned a book, read it quickly before the meeting, then pretend like you just happened to have read it a while back. Producer feel a zing of kismet when you say, “What a coincidence, I love that book, too!”
Now you’re ready for the big day. Get dressed up in jeans and a blazer (the unofficial screenwriter uniform). Get there an hour early, but linger across the street until 10 minutes before. (If it’s in a hard-to-find corner of L.A., you might want to drive out there to scout the place the day before.) Be steely and professional on the inside, casual and breezy on the outside.
Tomorrow: How to sell yourself, the old-fashioned way...