Scoring a general meeting is the way to get your name on assignment lists and to stick out in producers' minds. How can you do it?
I was buzzing around Reddit Screenwriting and saw a lot of people talking about general meetings. So what are they and how can you take them and ace them?
When you're starting out in Hollywood, you're going to have to take a ton of general meetings. Your name gets hot, you have a hot script or directed a hot movie, and suddenly everyone wants to meet you. Your agent or manager will set these meetings for you.
They're called generals, and they can be super informative, help you get in on pitches, and also be a waste of time.
So how can you ace your general meetings and make sure you also maximize your time?
How to Ace a General Meeting
Look, we'll get to the actual meeting in a second, but if you're nervous, like me, you're already worried when it comes time to get dressed.
Thankfully, when it was time for me to start doing these meetings, John August had already covered this topic. John, thank you for always covering everything! Check out his advice on what to wear below.
Okay, you got a killer outfit on that makes you feel confident. Perfect.
When you head out for a meeting, make sure you get there early. They can be late, you don't want to be late. Sure, it happens, and if you are, call your manager and have them give a heads up. No matter what, try to be on time. There's a good chance they may keep you waiting, but at this point, you don't matter.
That's not me being mean, just realistic. Unless you have the HOTTEST thing in Hollywood, no one cares. And then, even if they care, it's about how much money they can from the project. Your job in these meetings is to try to be more than the one product.
You're convincing places to see their future and you within it.
I worked as an assistant before I became a writer. And I can tell you the names of everyone who was shitty to me. So step one, get there on time. Step two, be nice to everyone.
This is all stuff that's important even before you get into the room.
What happens when you get in the room?
Once you're in the room, you and the producer, executive, or even talent will just have a conversation. People want to know where you're from, what brought you to Los Angeles, what inspired the project they read, and what you want to work on next.
They'll tell you about themselves, their company, what they're working on, and then hopefully you'll find some common ground to work together.
As John August says:
"Your goal in a general meeting is to figure out what they might be able to hire you to write. At a certain point, they’ll talk about the kinds of projects they have in development, and the things they’re looking for. If anything sparks, pursue it. Talk about it in the room, then follow up the next day, and the next week. You’ll be chasing a lot of half-baked projects, most of which will never come to be. But one or two might. And that’s what you need."
General meetings have three main points:
Get your name and face out in town
Get people attached to your current idea
Get people excited about your next idea
How can any of this go wrong?
Oh man, so many ways.
We once had a writer come in and say they wanted to do the meeting lying on the floor because they liked the perspective. We had a guy who sat upside down as part of a bit. There are people who tell producers they hated their last movie, that their passion project sucks, and even people who pitch some many of their own ideas that my bosses couldn't get a word in edgewise.
Some people are weird, fine. I'm a weirdo. But try to hold it in within the general setting.
Think of it as a first date. You want to be the best version of yourself. The kind that sticks out when people think "I want to work with them."
That means besides using manners and being polite, you also have to show your point of view. What makes something written by you so special?
When you're talking about your own ideas, try to keep it brief. Allow them a lot of time to ask questions.
My personal rule? I only talk about one movie and one tv idea I'm working on. I try to pick each idea tailored to their company so I think they have a shot at being interested.
What's next? Learn an elevator pitch!
Learning how to write an elevator pitch is a skill you can’t put a price on. Why? Because we’ve all been there when lightning strikes and that excellent idea comes to life in our minds. Maybe it’s the greatest movie idea in the world. Maybe it’s an idea for a tv series or a piece of branded content.
Click the link to learn more!