Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you taking a meeting? READ THIS POST!!!

This is a short one but maybe the most valuable advice I have given since don't park in Jeff Zucker's space. When you are lucky enough to get a meeting with a producer or story editor or writer or agent or executive… always ALWAYS…

GOOGLE THEM BEFORE THE MEETING!
Now that we have such a thing, it is inexcusable to go into a meeting not knowing exactly who the person is and what he has done. Maybe there are articles where he’s quoted. You get a sense of his viewpoint, his interests. Imdb his credits. The more you know, the better prepared you are, the easier it will be to impress.

And the reverse is true. When someone blunders into a meeting unprepared, since we all know how easy it is to Google someone, right away that person is branded as a dolt – which he is.

And executives and producers?

Same for you.

If you’re meeting a writer or director, imdb him first. I wrote a spec screenplay a few years ago that resulted in a meeting with a young executive. He complimented me on the writing and wondered what I had been doing because this was an amazing first effort. He was a tad embarrassed when I told him I had written one or two things before that.

I’ll leave you with a great Hollywood story (or tall tale). I believe it was Billy Wilder who said it. Late in his illustrious career he took a meeting with a young executive who asked, “What have you done?” Wilder supposedly leaned in to him and said, “You first.”

GOOGLE THEM BEFORE THE MEETING!

18 comments:

bruce miller said...

Ken...the Billy Wilder story is PERFECT. Thanks for sharing it.
bruce

wackiland said...

So wonderful! And it applies to actors, too. Two classic stories (they could be legends, but what the heck):

- Rod Stieger goes into a meeting and they ask him if he can do a Southern accent (long, long, long after IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT).

- Shelley Winters gets told she has to go in and audition for a part. So she goes in with a great big tote bag, sits down, reaches in to the bag, pulls out her Oscar and plops it down in the casting director's desk.

Nat G said...

You're underselling the story, wackiland. Shelley reaches into her bag, pulls out an Oscar, thumps it on the desk. Then she reaches into her bag again, pulls out another Oscar. And then she says "Some people think I can act."

Oscars may be generally pointless, but they come in handy at times...

Tallulah Morehead said...

Billy Wilder was a HACK! I saw SUNSET BOULEVARD and it was libelous TRASH!!!!

Why he felt it necessary to interview me at length, tour my house, and take pictures of every room in my legendary home, Morehead Heights, before he made the picture, I'll never know. He told me (Through his translator. the man's accent was so thick he was unintelligible!) that I wouldn't be in the picture, but that I would "inspire every frame."

Then he hires that homely no-talent Gloria Swanson, and makes a film that implies that a big star not unlike me would SLEEP WITH A WRITER!!! Talk about LIBEL! Who in Hollywood in their right mind ever sleeps with a writer? Get real. I ask you Kent, have you ever known anyone misguided enough to have sex with a writer?

Although if I were to have sex with a writer, he damn well better look like William Holden, and drink like him too.

Speaking of drinking, there was his ridiculous movie THE LOST WEEKEND which, if you watch it carefully, implies that drinking is bad!!! What garbage! So you lose a weekend once in a while. Just as well; otherwise they pile up in the corner and become a fire hazard.

And in DOUBLE INDEMNITY he tries to make people think that it's some sort of crime to bump off the occasional husband. How can you take him seriously?

Or SOME LIKE IT HOT, when he tries to make people believe that a hot babe like Jack Lemmon would ever settle for Joe E. Brown! And how come he never showed us Marilyn Monroe out of drag? Who was the man playing her? (Hint: You NEVER saw Marilyn Monroe and Clifton Webb together.)

Billy Wilder! Feh!

Cheers darlings. I'm ready for my close-up.

Mike Bell said...

Ken,

I've also heard the story about (and I wish I could remember the actor's name, drat my early onset dementia) a well known actor with a long and storied career, wanted a role so badly that he agreed to screen test for it.

Called back for a meeting after the test, the young producer told him, "You're pretty good. Is there anything else I might have seen you in?"

Karen from Mentor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Razor Rob said...

Cocktail party.

Prick says to writer, "Who's your publisher?"

"Well," says the author, "I guess 7/8 of my books are with X publisher."

"Uh-huh," says the condescending prick. "I take it from your answer you've written eight books?"

"Closer to 300 right now," replies the author to the amusement of the other guests. Prick is at least gracious enough to be embarrassed.

Writer sticks out his hand. "I don't believe we've been formally introduced. My name is Isaac Asimov."

John E said...

Ken,

Wasn't sure where else to put this, as it's certainly off-topic, but I thought you might get a kick out of it. Wonderfully weird cartoonist Michael Kupperman got his hands on a CHEERS script featuring a guest appearance by SAW:

http://mkupperman2.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/scoop-saw-started-as-a-character-on-cheers/

Anonymous said...

Twenty years ago, a writer friend of mine was a PA looking for a job. He interviewed at an employment agency for an executive assistant position. The interviewer gave him a test on leading executives in the industry. He failed miserably. The test was for a job working with a key player and it could have vaulted his career into hyperdrive, but he didn't follow the industry, "didn't want to play the game." I wanted to slap him. Moral of this story: Know the business.

Kirk Jusko said...

Shouldn't you be just as concerned that the executive might google YOU?

Tom Quigley said...

I googled my shrink before my first visit... Unfortunately, I didn't find out anything about him being a transvestite... "Good afternoon, Tom. I'm Dr. Phyllis"....

AlaskaRay said...

>> Tallulah Morehead said...
Why he felt it necessary to interview me at length, tour my house, and take pictures of every room in my legendary home, Morehead Heights, before he made the picture, I'll never know.<<

Remind never to swim in your swimming pool (or your gene pool, for that matter).

Ray

Anonymous said...

the downside is that many people have common names, and you might get their accomplishments mixed up. Imagine meeting with "Ken Levine" and thinking "the guy who wrote BioShock, impressive", only to find out that he only wrote a bunch of shitty sitcoms and hasn't worked for 5 years.. Awkward.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"AlaskaRay said...

Remind never to swim in your swimming pool (or your gene pool, for that matter).

Ray"

How fortunate you've never been invited. And I had my gene pool drained. Too much algae.

Why is it writers prefer to float rather than swim?

Cheers darling.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Hey Ken, not sure if you were the one who wrote about that TV "red light-green light" milk drinking game a while back, but the announcer for that died:

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-wayne-thomas18-2009feb18,0,1956990.story

To Karen from Mentor from JackieSwanson said...

Please give my warm regards to Tom Anderson. (from Kelly at Cheers) I have a pic of Tom to share with you but uploading pics here at house-o-Ken is a mystery to me.

D. McEwan said...

"Rory L. Aronsky said...
Hey Ken, not sure if you were the one who wrote about that TV "red light-green light" milk drinking game a while back, but the announcer for that died"

His name was Wayne Thomas. His Times obit omitted that he was also the announcer for FRIGHT NIGHT WITH SEYMOUR, which I used to write, so I worked with Wayne some 35 years ago. Kind of a dick, but to anyone who grew up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, he ws a voice you knew well, as he was at KHJ-TV for 27 years.

Karen from Mentor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.