Make The Most Of Your Meetings With This Answer
When we start out as screenwriters, we sometimes believe that the one question everyone will ask is: “What are you working on?” This is definitely a question that gets asked. But often times, you could be in a situation where you’re invited to a “meet and greet” or a “general meeting” (as those in the industry call it when there isn’t a specific project to discuss but a Hollywood executive likes your writing and wants to get to know the writer). The agent, manager or producer has already read your script. They know you can string together a story. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there.
In fact, the real purpose of the “meet and greet” is often to find out about you.
No agent, manager or producer wants to work with someone who is difficult. They want someone who would be a good collaborator, because collaboration is the name of the game in film. They want someone they connect with, because they’re going to spend a good bit of time with any writer they hire (industry insiders say the average time from script to screen in Hollywood is roughly seven years). Part of your job at the “meet and greet” is to sell yourself as a person.
Not many of us enjoy selling ourselves. It can be awkward and embarrassing. But since it’s such an important part of the meeting structure here in Hollywood, let’s think about some ways to pitch yourself.
No 1 – Think of yourself as a protagonist in a story
This may sound strange at first, but think about it: everyone loves a good story. So tell them one — only make it about you. If you were the hero in your next script, what would it be about? Set it up like a logline. What was your life before you decided to be a screenwriter? What made you decide to take up screenwriting? How has your life changed? What are your goals? What kinds of movies do you want to write, and why?
You needn’t go overboard and say that you battled wild boars to get to Hollywood. Stick to the truth, but tell it like a story.
No 2 – Come up with a good hook
So, here’s the gamey part. You need a hook for your story, just like you need a hook for your movie.
You want people to be immediately interested in hearing what you have to say about yourself. The best way to do this, often, is to say something unexpected. What makes you unusual?
Are you an amateur taxidermist? Do you have a side hustle selling homemade pickled eggs? Sometimes being ordinary can be the hook. For instance: “I was the most ordinary housewife anyone had ever met until I stumbled on a screenwriting book at the library’s 50¢ sale. Now, I write horror.” The point is: give us a hook.
No 3 – Make your aspirations clear
Part of your answer needs to be focused on what you hope to accomplish as a writer. This is not the time to quote your Best Screenwriter Award acceptance speech or explain how you would like to rule the world or at the very least own oceanfront property in Malibu and invite all your highly-toned friends over.
Be specific about your writing goals, and explain why you’re interested in them. Some people want to work on children’s animated shows; some want to write popcorn action flicks; some want to be indie queens; some want to work in development. Obviously, if you end up with a bunch of highly-toned friends who wear nothing but red bathing suits, all the better.
Just make sure it’s a good story. And when anyone says “tell me about yourself,” start with the hook.
What would you say in a meeting? We’d love to hear about you.