I've been to LA on business before, and I've been to LA on business that involves going to producer's offices and meeting up. But this is the first time I have come to LA on creative business.
And I'm telling you, I should be doing more of it. The biz relies on face-to-face meetings: Ideas are pitched best that way, and the development and creative executive running the meetings get to, quite honestly, show the big execs they can bring in fresh talent.
Of course, anyone who reads the trades knows this is a terrible time to be pitching as-yet-unwritten scripts. There's an economic downturn to deal with. Nobody is really making development deals, and spec script sales have never been harder to make.
John and I came to LA armed with seven script pitches and two completed screenplays. We had scheduled three pitch meetings over two days, with people who have over the last few months requested to read our script The Sensitivity Program. Here's the play-by-play, with details obscured (there is some chance we may be in business with these folks, after all!)
Meeting 1, Thursday Morning: Met with SW at the lovely offices of ---- Entertainment in Santa Monica. The first thing she said was something like "I'll be very surprised of you brought me something we can use." Looking at the movie posters on the office walls, we had to agree. Still, an excellent meeting with a very intelligent and personable young exec, who John and I really connected with on a personal and film-history-appreciation level.
Meeting 2, Friday Morning: Met with NA on the Paramount Studio lot on Melrose. As you'd expect, it is quite a thrill to get a lot pass with your name on it and drive through those historic gates. We met in the offices of ------- Pictures, in the former offices of Desilu Studios. NA was gracious, pleasant, with an encyclopedic knowledge of our script and it's deeper themes. An impressive person. We gave her printed copies of every pitch we had.
Post-meeting we took lunch at the Studio Cafe and took in some sights on the lot. Unfortunately, most TV shows have wrapped for the season, so there wasn't that much interesting going on. I did see some of the settings for "Community," my current favorite sitcom, and the New York street where Don Draper moved to in the Season 3 finale of "Mad Men."
Meeting 3, Friday Night: this was more of a dinner social/advice meeting, but we're counting it. JJ, a development exec from a rather prominent auteur's shingle, met up with us at the Westfield Century City, at a Mexican place with the unfortunate name Pink Taco. If you crossed an El Torito with a Hooters, this is what you'd get. JJ dispensed excellent advice over tacos and Corona. John and I are still chewing on some of the priceless bits of strategy he gave us.
At the end of the meal, the three of us were the victims of a sustained verbal attack by a full-on Westside jerk in a loud, expensive shirt who became fixated on the three of us and our booth. He'd lean in on us semi-menacingly and say "are you done here, can you leave? My wife and I have been waiting an hour!" There were a number of other booths and tables quite empty, might I add. He came back and started in again two more times. The security guy had to eventually drag him away. when it was all done, I think it strengthened the bond between JJ and us: we were now blood-brothers in The Battle For The Pink Taco Booth.
All in all, it was an excellent series of meetings. Relationships were established, and connections were made. No, we didn't sell anything, but now we have the tools to make a sale happen.