My co-writer and producer and I went into the studio yesterday morning to pitch our female hip hop project to one of the executives. On our way to the building, we ran into the executive herself, who waved to us as she talked on her cell phone. For some reason, we had no choice but to stand around and wait for her to finish the call. I suppose waving and walking into the building would have been equally weird or rude, I’m not sure. So we stood there for a minute. It was awkward. Introductions were then made and we all walked into the building together, making small talk along the way about how far the building was from where we parked. In the reception area she left us for a moment, which gave the receptionist a chance to offer us some water.
Whenever you have a meeting at a studio, the first thing they do is offer you water. It never fails. “Can I get you anything? Water?” They always say “Anything” as if I could say: “Sure, a three picture deal” or “A Ferrari would be great, thanks,” and they would go and get one. Sometimes I give a smart ass answer like “A house in the Hollywood Hills” but the joke has had mixed results so I’ve put it on the back burner. I’ve also been tempted to just start collecting water bottles and writing the name of the studio executive I was meeting with on the bottles and then making some sort of gallery when I one day have an office myself.
So we sucked on our Arrowhead bottles until she returned to tell us she was ready. We followed her into a meeting room that was clearly not her office but instead was probably used for pitches and watching videos. The walls were painted a soothing blue and there were bizarre, kidney shaped couches on either side of the room. I was tempted to lie down and give my pitch from the prone position, staring up at the ceiling as if I were at the shrink’s office. But I thought better of it and got into my pitching position: elbows on knees with a slight lean forward to convey the passion and intensity I have for the project.
It’s probably a sitting position similar to being on the toilet.
We kicked off the pitch, introducing the genesis of the project (“this is inspired by the true story of this famous rapper, bla bla bla) and then going into the story itself. I had decided early on to give just a general sense of the story without too much detail, as we had a fifteen page treatment to “leave behind” anyway. No point giving her the long version when she can read it later. At the end of the pitch the executive looked thoughtful. Was she loving it or hating it? “I really like this,” she started. “There’s just one problem. There was an independent movie out last year that was very similar.” We all nodded, as if we had seen this coming: “We know,” said the producer. “But nobody saw it. This would be a much bigger project with a bigger audience.” The executive nodded back: “I understand that. The problem is we tried to buy that movie but lost out to another studio. If we produce this one, they’ll just think we copied it. “But our story is real,” said the producer. “It’s based on a real rapper’s life.” We all “pitched” in, adding little soundbites of why this story was so different and unique and great, even though none of us had actually seen the independent movie she was referring to. “Listen,” said the exec. “I really like this, I do. Let me look over what you have here and see if there are any ways we can make it more unique before I try to sell it to my bosses.” Everybody nodded. It was better than a “no.” Or was it a “no” masquerading as a “maybe?” We’ll find out next week.