What Are The Different Kinds Of Screenwriting Meetings?

As you grow your screenwriting career in Hollywood you will soon find yourself taking all kinds of different meetings with important industry people. But what are the main meetings that screenwriter’s take, what are the expected outcomes and how to best prepare for them? 

The main meetings screenwriters have to take in their career are Pitch Meetings, General Meetings and Prospective Meetings. Let’s dive into what they’re all about and prepare you for each so you can win the attention of every room you ever walk into. 

The Pitch Meeting

In general, a pitch meeting is a meeting in which a producer wants you to pitch a project that you have written, have an outline for or have the idea for. Sometimes that also means pitching your take on a project their company is developing and on which they’re imagining hiring you as a writer. 

Let’s look at these two scenarios.

In the first scenario, you have a project that a company likes. They heard about the concept from yourself or your representation and they’d like for you to come in and pitch the movie or show to a bunch of industry executives. 

When you are invited to such a meeting, what you want to do first is make sure you ask who will be attending the meeting. You want to know the name of the attendees so you can do your due diligence with a quick google search. 

You want to know who you are meeting with, what credits they have, what their roles are and what their titles at the company are. It’s crucial to look prepared when you meet with anyone in this industry. 

Once you know who you will be presenting your pitch to, it’s time to prepare that pitch. You have a script, great. You most likely have a logline too, fantastic. It’s up to you how you decide to present your story and pitch it but more often than not, I recommend having a short presentation with visuals. We call that presentation a pitch deck. 

The Pitch deck has:

  • Your title page. Your opportunity to make a great first impression. 
  • Your logline, synopsis and themes explored in the movie/series
  • Your Cast with short descriptions and possible actors to play the role
  • For a movie, the three acts of the movie summarized or for a series, the episodes of the first season and an overall arc for next seasons. 
  • The Writer’s bio (your bio)

Now at the meeting, always reserve some room to chat at the beginning, that’s part of the process. Then hop into your pitch. The shorter and clearer your pitch is, the better. I suggest keeping your pitch 15 minutes long or less and leave room for questions at the end. 

You don’t always know if a pitch meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes or an hour and making sure that your pitch doesn’t go over 15 minutes, allows you to leave plenty of room for questions, to speak further and to potentially mention other projects you’re working on (only if you’re asked to do so). 

After this meeting, you’ll be waiting to hear back from them hopefully with positive news that they’re buying your script. But keep your expectations low, it’s rare to sell a project immediately in Hollywood. So no matter what their final response is, these executives have now become important people in your network and you should make sure that you contact them in the future with your other projects and check on them sporadically to stay on their radar.

Now, let’s talk about the other scenario, the one where you’re pitching a take on their story. Often, when you have representation, they will put you up for what we call Open Writing Assignments (OWA’s). It’s common for producers to buy a concept or option a piece of IP also known as Intellectual Property (a book for example) and to need a writer to write the outline and the script. 

Your representation will know of these opportunities and submit your profile to these Open Writing Assignments.

If the producer likes your profile, they will give your representation all the necessary information on the project: project’s history, quick brief, series or movie’s concept, a copy of the book or article, and so on. 

You then have a short amount of time to prepare a pitch. The pitch is your take on the story. How would you as a storyteller tell this story? This pitch is what you will present to the producer in a pitch meeting. Be as clear and original in your vision as you can be, show your differences, take risks, and pitch them all your best ideas for this story specifically. 

The good news is Open Writing Assignments are easier to get than selling original work and they pay very well. 

The bad news is that the executives you’re meeting with are also hearing pitches from other writers and might ultimately work with them and sometimes use your ideas (although that’s not very chic). It’s also true that it’s time consuming to prepare those Open Writing Assignment pitches and you are not paid for that part. You are only paid if you get hired for the assignment. 

So should you pass on these opportunities because you risk losing your time and getting your ideas taken? Well, no. It’s a bigger risk to keep your ideas for yourself and never get the deal. Because getting an Open Writing Assignment is an amazing opportunity to be paid good money doing exactly what you love to do: writing screenplays. 

And if you do great with your OWA, you will most likely be re-hired by this company or even others. This puts you into a solid category as a working writer.

The General Meeting

A General meeting is a meeting where you speak about everything with a producer. 

By everything we mean your backstory, any relevant information about you, why you wanted to be a writer, what interests you, etc. Anything really. 

The goal with a general is to grow your network and for producers to get a better understanding of who you are and what you write and what you might be potentially interested in writing (for future open writing assignments for example or if they are staffing a room soon). 

You might not need to prepare anything specifically for a general, but make sure you research who you will be meeting with and that you ask them questions too. People like to speak about themselves and if you ask genuine questions about their background, their projects, their career, and so on, they’ll really appreciate it. Show that you know how to be a normal human being that’s nice to be around. 

Additionally, any information they give you about projects they have ongoing is great because that’s something you can mention the next time you reach out to them to see how that specific project is progressing and staying in touch with them.

When you first get managers, they will send you on a bunch of general meetings with connections they have. That process is called “the water bottle tour” since every time you get to a meeting you will first be asked if you want water (always say yes, even if you’re not thirsty).

The Prospective Meeting

A prospective meeting is a meeting you usually take with a rep, such as a manager or an agent. When you get to this meeting, the agent or manager probably is already interested in signing you. They most likely have read a piece of your writing and see talent in you. 

With this meeting, they want to see what else you’ve got, what are your other scripts or ideas you have and mostly what do you want to do as a writer. Do you want to mostly write for films? Are you interested in television? Those are all things they will want to know in order to know exactly how best to serve you as your agent or manager if you decide to partner up.

During these meetings, you really want to show that you work hard to network on your own and find work opportunities. You want to present yourself as an idea machine who has plenty of other projects you’re thinking about or have written. You want to have a clear vision for your future and be able to explain this vision the clearest way possible. 

Ultimately, you want them to see that you’re a great talent to invest time and energy in. 

Don’t forget that while they’re trying to figure out if they could rep you, you are also interviewing them for this position. Ask questions and make sure that you know if this is the right person to have as your rep. It goes both ways. 

What To Do After The Meeting?

It’s great to have a pitch meeting, a general or a prospective meeting. And I’m sure you’ll do amazing in your meetings. But what do you do after the meeting? 

When you give a pitch, you want to give the execs some time before they come back to you. Two to three weeks is an acceptable time to wait before circling back regarding the pitch. Three weeks is ideal in my opinion. Your email should be short, polite, nice and just ask if they had a chance to discuss your pitch internally. 

For prospective meetings, I would say that the same amount of time is valid.

For a general meeting, it’s a little trickier since there isn’t a specific piece of material to review such as in a pitch meeting. You will want to reach out periodically to this executive to just update them on what’s going on with your projects and any achievements you have. This will allow you to stay on their radar for any upcoming projects they have or to email them with loglines once you’re ready to take other projects out.  

For every meeting, make sure you send a thank you email afterwards to the people who have attended the meeting and taken some time for you. That’s just a polite good thing to do since everyone is busy in this town.

So, now you know what meetings to expect in your career and how to prepare for each of these meetings and when to follow up afterwards. When it isn’t specified what kind of meetings you’re taking (it’s rare, but it can happen), it’s best to assume it’s a general and treat it as such. But always be prepared for any type of scenario, meaning have a pitch ready if you’re ever asked to pitch a project during a meeting.

Wishing you the best time connecting with other industry professionals!

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