Monday, September 21, 2009

More on networking

meansheets commented on one of my posts last week:

interesting moral what's worse? dropping your script on a successful writer you don't know at a party OR "cultivating" a relationship with a successful writer you don't know at a party and then dropping the script on him/her a few months/years down the road after you're "friends"? i think the second option could be even more manipulative than the first, depending on the intent.

I think you're reading a sinister intent in my advice that isn't there. Is it mainpulative to go to a singles bar hoping to meet someone for sex, striking up a conversation with an attractive person, getting to know them, going out on several dates, getting married and so on? Would you say that the marriage is based on a "manipulative" motive?

All I'm saying is that if you're in a social situation and you're presented with an opportunity to get better acquainted with someone who works in the business, take it! But have some social graces when you do it. I don't think anyone is tenacious enough to maintain a false veneer long enough to get to the point where asking a favor like reading a script. If that's really ALL you care about, the person you're attempting to "exploit" will see through this. If you're genuine, don't worry about being seen as manipulative. People can always tell when you're out to use them.

You're never going to get favors from people you don't know, and asking someone to read a script and give you notes can be an imposition. However, just to give an example of networking via blogging, if Carson over at Scriptshadow, or Amanda the Aspiring TV Writer, or Scott over at Go Into The Story were ever to ask me if I'd look at their latest spec and give notes, I'd only be too happy to do it. (Not that I think any of them ever would, and I'm sure that they have plenty of people to read their material.) Why? Because I respect them as fellow bloggers, and from reading their own writing I can tell they'd have some insight into how to make my own scripts better if I were to reciprocate with my specs. Beyond that, they've all been pretty complimentary of the blog and in the cases of Scott and Amanda, even did me a great favor in the early days of this blog by promoting some of my content. They certainly helped me draw new readers to the blog and I've learned a lot from their blogs. .

And these are people I haven't even met! So the next time you're out at karaoke night and find yourself in conversation with an agent's assistant, take advantage of it

Now, a lot of people on the outside are heard to whine about how "it's all nepotism. You have to know somebody to get anywhere in this town." Most of the time, the people you hear using this aren't talented enough to sell a script if they were Steven Spielberg's son and protegee. It's their excuse for why someone hasn't yet recognised the "brilliance" in their latest spec about a killer Scarecrow.

However there is a little bit of truth to this in the sense that people on the inside can be of help to you. They're the first ones to hear about job vacancies at their companies. They can pass on that resume along with a personal recommendation. That friend who's a junior development exec at New Line might hear what the brain trusts over there are looking for in terms of projects and know that you just wrote a spec that fits what they're looking for to a T.

Networking helps build careers. Meeting people can help you in the long run and it's no different than going to a freshman mixer your first week of college and getting to know other people.


  1. Networking is key. In life and especially in the film industry. And don't writers tend to be more introverts?

    There's a time and place for everything. Springing a script on someone you just met might seem too aggressive and desperate, comparable to an ex-wrestler trying to auction his self-proclaimed amazing script on ebay. But if the time is right, I say go for it.

    From all the recent topics about writers approaching people with their scripts, I have to wonder what the level of class this is done at. I know plenty people who struggle big time with social monitoring, and just observing the hollywood nightlife I can only imagine those same individuals are the ones pushing their scripts.

    "Nice ufc t-shirt... Are you afflicted sir?"

  2. You know, most of my networking opportunities have come from surprising places. The people I thought would be a big help have just been friends and not really ever a connection, but every now and then someone I've just considered a friend or an online acquaintance will email me and ask if they can pass my script on to somebody.

    So I think the best bet is definitely to make friends with people and not worry too much about connections. You never know where the connections can come from, but you have a choice about who you keep as friends.

  3. You know, that's one of the greatest things about having a blog is that you can use it to get to know other people or establish a relationship with people in a way that allows people to really get to know you. When people meet you, even if you just have a 10 minute conversation before they ask you for a favor, you already have had the time to make a judgement on whether they're someone you want to help out.

    I think blogs also give an opportunity for the less social of us to be able to reach out, make contacts, and interact but at a level we're comfortable with. Lord knows I've made plenty of contacts online, be it from my site or Facebook.

  4. My guess is that even if you could wrangle a script read out of a total stranger, even if that person was successful their feedback would be total crap. A few pleasantries, an "I Noticed" statement and some motivational slap on the ass to send you bothering somebody else.

    I'm curious though, Mr. O'Bitterstein. As somebody who reads for a living, how often do you run into this problem when people IRL find out what you do?