Monday, June 25, 2012

What happens at a General

I just did a whirlwind of general meetings, so I thought it might help others if gave a vague description of how they go down for people who haven't gotten there yet.

Note these are GENERALS. Generals are meetings that happen when someone reads your script, likes it, and wants to meet you. The idea is to develop a relationship with a producer you may get to work with in the future. It's your grand introduction to the town.

Pitch meetings are different. This is not about pitch meetings.

So you go on the studio lot or into the building, depending on where you are, and the assistant will shake your hand and ask you if you'd like something to drink. Of course you take a water. I've never tried asking for anything else.

Some studios will offer an ice cold bottle, some a glass with water from some mysterious source. Sometimes it will be room temperature. Sometimes it will be in a plastic cup. Sometimes nobody will remember to offer you anything, but most of the time they'll hand you a bottle. Either way, if there's water, take it. You'll be talking a lot. But, especially if you live in the valley like I do and will be in traffic for an hour after this meeting, clock the bathrooms as soon as you walk in. Otherwise you'll be peeing in a Ralph's on the way home.

So after the assistant hands you a water, they will call the boss who will bring you into his office or a conference room of some kind. I've noticed that usually the couch is for you, the chair is for them, but not always.

They will tell you they read your script and thought it was great. Sometimes that's all they'll say; sometimes they'll lavish you with praise. Drink that shit in. I like the ego boost, so I just let them tell me all the reasons I'm awesome and then say thank you.

Sometimes they'll ask you about yourself. They'll ask about your job, how you got to LA, how long you've been writing, what made you think of this idea, how you got your rep... If you have an interesting job like, say, teaching public high school, sometimes they'll ask about that too.

Then they'll get to what kind of projects you want to write. I usually throw out a couple of examples of the kind of my favorite films in my genre so they know where to point their ideas. This usually leads to a discussion of how awesome those particular movies are.

This is my favorite part of the conversation, because it gives us both a chance to be the film nerds we truly are. I've had some really great discussions with execs about why certain great movies work, and what I'd like to see in movies of the future.

Sometimes, that's the meeting. We met, we wooed, and then I went home with my half empty bottle of water.

Sometimes they'll pitch you something. They have a list of ideas they're working on, and after they've met you they'll give you a project they've been thinking about so you can go home and ponder it.

Sometimes they'll let you pitch an idea. They'll tell you what they're looking for, and if you've got anything like that in your script stable, bust it out. Initially I had this one awesome idea I'd pitch to everyone, but it became pretty clear that each studio is looking for something different. Some are more broad comedy guys, some are looking for the unusual and creative, some want you to do more of what you just did. So I now have a few ideas ready to throw out depending on the tenor of the room.

Often they want to know what you're working on now, so be working on something. Sometimes they'll ask to read it when you're finished.

They'll wind it all up, give you a business card, and shake your hand. And that's the meeting.

Sometimes they'll go for 15 minutes, sometimes an hour; it just depends on the purpose of the meeting and what kind of exec you're dealing with.

And that's how general meetings work.


  1. Thanks Emily!

    Sounds fun and exhausting. Good luck and have fun!


  2. It's funny how universal this experience is.

  3. Wow. Now that's an answer!

    I sometimes wonder about how long the journey is...from idea to the screen. There is a "survival of the fittest" aspect, when it comes to which films are born [and prosper].

    But, also, many potential classics will never take their first breath...

  4. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Hey Emily thanks for the information. It's fun reading your posts. I accidentally landed here, but I'm sure I'll be back for more.


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