Friday, July 18, 2008

Pen, Screen, Life Blog

Playing Tennis is part of the job

I HAD to play tennis last Monday. Regardless of the fact that I like tennis, and enjoy talking with the person I was playing with, we were there to discuss business. People in regular 9-5 jobs don't understand how playing golf, tennis, going to lunch, and getting drinks are part of the job, but they are.

For instance, to piggyback on a previous post, networking events are fun. There are tons of people all talking about film and having drinks. However, its also work. Its my job to meet to most influential people, make them see what an amazing asset I can be, and make contacts that can help both me and my company in the long run.

For those of you who may be reading, first: Thank you. But more importantly, working in film is a different experience every day. Because of the fact that every person in the industry is an independent contractor, and everyone has a project to pitch, it's like working with a hoard of salesmen. Some of them are shysters, some are middle class businesses, and some are legitimate fortune 500 companies, but they are all salesmen. The best of them can sell a terrible idea in a shiny package, proverbial snake oil. The worst of them spend 5 years developing a wonderful concept that goes nowhere.

The difference: A few simple things.

1-HIGH CONCEPT IDEA: Projects that can't be pitched, or summarized quickly, go nowhere. I currently have that problem with one of my scripts, Red Bicycle. We'll use it as an example.

Logline: Bengie, a talented poker player, makes a movie, only to lose it to his father in a card game. Ten years later, his dreams shattered, he must find a way to get back what he lost.

See how hard a concept that is to sell. In contrast, I have another film, Johnny's Black Flag.

Logline: A young man is released from a mental institution into a halfway house only to fall back into psychosis.

See, the second film looks like a pitchable idea. This is essential for the quick contact, or elevator pitch. guess with idea gets more interest.

2. Make it easy for them to ask for a script

The next step is having a great synopsis or treatment. Ideally, you would be able to skip this step, but nothing is guaranteed so it's best to have them. A producer/agent needs to see that the script is marketable. After hooking the interest, then you have an opportunity to sweeten the pot. The film already has a budget...a line producer attached, as well as a director. In addition, mention the film is a 1.5 million dollar budget, and you have interest. But, the best script will never get read if you can't get someone interested in the plot.

3. Get them to read the script

After you have shown that their job is easy, getting them to read the script should be a piece of cake. This doesn't guarantee anything, but if you have a good concept and a good script, getting someone to read it is the most important step.

Some people are so good they can sell a treatment. Some are better and can sell a concept. But, it's just a sales pitch. Get better at selling, and you'll have a more successful career. When you do, you'll be able to play tennis as part of your job too.