Thursday, October 13, 2011
My Worst Movie Meeting
This was a number of years ago. VOLUNTEERS and MANNEQUIN had been made. JEWEL OF THE NILE (which we rewrote – uncredited) was going into production. So for the moment we had a viable feature career.
Our agent arranged a general meeting with an executive from 20th Century Fox, Dylan Sellers. These are generally just meet and greet affairs. You want to be on their radar. It’s fairly hard to screw up these meetings. They just want to be sure you’re not too weird. So if you show up on time, are dressed nicely, and can carry on a breezy conversation for a half hour without revealing that you collect tonsils or God talks to you through hidden messages delivered by Mr. Rogers you’re pretty much in. Often they have a project in mind and if you don't scare them they offer you the assignment.
Our meeting was set for the end of the day, around 5:30. At the time, we had an office on the Paramount lot in Hollywood and drove across town to 20th. Traffic was bad (duh) and we just arrived on time. Punctuality is important with these meetings. It gives the studio executive an idea of how responsible you are. If you can’t show up on time for a meeting, how can they count on you to turn in the first draft when you promise?
There was no time to postpone the meeting. I lived way too far to race home and change. We decided to just take our chances. I know. This is like right out of THREE’S COMPANY.
We walked into Mr. Sellers’ outer office with David right behind me. We tried to look nonchalant but I’m sure in some states we were close enough for sodomy charges. The assistant told us Mr. Sellers would only be a couple of minutes and take a seat. We sat on the couch. I tried to grab a copy of Variety that was on the coffee table and as I leaned in I heard the rip get a little longer. I froze immediately.
A few minutes later Mr. Sellers was ready to see us. Instead of just cutting across the room to the door to his office I sort of hugged the walls. The assistant looked at me funny. We entered his office and again I walked laterally along the wall, trying to appear natural.
Dylan Sellers came around from behind his desk, shook our hands, and invited us to take a seat on the couch. Which we did. It was an overstuffed couch, the kind you really disappear into.
He sat in a chair across from us and the meeting began. I sat there with a big smile plastered to my face. Fortunately, David did most of the talking. I just nodded like a bobblehead. I don’t think I heard a thing Mr. Sellers was saying. All I could think was, “How the fuck am I going to get out of this giant couch?”
At one point, the conversation turned to cars. Mr. Sellers was very proud of the new one he had just purchased. It was parked right outside and he invited us to come to the window to have a look.
I struggled to my feet, felt a little more rip. Pretty soon the pants were going to just fall off. That would make a great impression. I casually hugged the walls, moving towards the window. David hopped in right behind me so that when Mr. Sellers was behind him he (hopefully) couldn’t see my now-officially fat ass.
It was back to the couch. Was he starting to sense something was weird? Most people turn and walk to a couch. They don’t backpedal.
More charming chit-chat for about fifteen minutes and that was it. Again, I had to hoist myself out of couchzilla. The ripping sound could have been mistaken for a fart but that’s hardly better. We shook hands, said goodbye, I hugged the wall all the way out the room then bolted.
Our agent followed up with him the next day. He said the meeting went well. He liked us but thought we were a little reserved. Worried that our sensibilities were a little too sophisticated for the project he had in mind. It was a very broad comedy. Lots of slapstick. Humiliating situations. That just didn’t seem like us.
Talk about taking one in the shorts.