By: Sarah Chaisson-Warner
For many aspiring screenwriters, placing in key competitions can be a strong strategy for building a resume and generating momentum behind their script.
At Shore Scripts, our goal is to help launch the careers of aspiring writers. Placing in our competition isn’t just about receiving a laurel – our prize package includes highly coveted meetings with industry professionals actively seeking to represent new writers and potentially option exciting new scripts.
This year, in addition to cash prizes and opportunities to be mentored by some of the best in the business, the Shore Scripts 2022 Feature & TV Pilot competition prize packages include Industry Meetings for our winners.
So, what is an industry meeting?
An industry meeting is an opportunity for writers to meet with producers, managers, and agents.
Industry meetings offer writers and other industry professionals the chance to get to know one another, learn more about their projects, and gauge opportunities for working together.
Most industry meetings last for 30 to 60 minutes, and cover a lot of ground in that time, including who you are and your personal story, the projects you are working on, and what your goals are for working in the industry. Writers can also learn a lot about the industry professional’s interests and goals too – what he or she is working on, and what they are looking for.
Shore Scripts works with industry professionals in both the US and the UK, including producers, agents, and managers who are all actively looking to work with new and exciting talent. Past winners have met with FilmNation, Gotham Group, Radical Media, Verve, and others. You can see Shore’s full Industry Roster here.
How should you prepare for an industry meeting?
Preparation is key for ensuring a successful meeting with industry members.
First and foremost, be sure to research the person and company you’ll be meeting with, using the resources available to you – including IMDb and other publications tracking industry developments, like Variety.
Lizzie Cater, a producer with Everyone We Know, will be offering a meeting this year and she encourages writers to prepare some questions in advance for the industry professional.
“Know who you’re talking to and what they’ve done. This will give you an insight into why you’ll connect with one another and what you could potentially be working on. Do the homework for them.” – Lizzie Cater
Secondly, think about how you want to present yourself and your work. Writers often spend so much time thinking about the story they want to present in their script that they can sometimes forget about how to tell their personal story.
Industry professionals will want to know more about you – who you are, and what makes you tick. “I love general meetings and getting to know people and their work,” says Lizzie. “Getting to know someone and a bit about them is part of that process.”
Use these questions, to help you build your personal story:
- What inspired you to become a writer?
- What are your professional goals?
- Which projects or writers are you inspired by, and why?
- Which films or TV shows (current or past) would you like to have been a writer for, and why?
- How could a working relationship with this producer, agent, or manager be mutually beneficial, one that helps you both attain your goals and needs?
- What makes you and your voice or vision unique?
The last question is especially important!
Remember that your distinct voice is an asset in industry meetings. “We’re seeing an increasing diversity in stories and the people telling them — bringing queer, POC, people living with a disability and women to the front,” Lizzie says. “I think that there are more opportunities for writers to break through and that’s what excites me.”
Another producer offering a meeting this year is Sergei Bespalov, at Aldamisa Entertainment.
“We are always looking for writers that have a unique style, easily distinguishable from the crowd,” -Sergei Bespalov
Lizzie agrees. “[We are looking for] someone who is passionate about their story, knows why they need to tell it and why it needs to be told by them.”
However, getting to know you as a writer is just one facet of the meeting. The industry professional will also want to get an appreciation of your presentation style, and how well you might function in meetings with other executives.
LeLe Park, a finalist in Shore Scripts’ 2019 TV pilot competition, encourages writers to have the right disposition when taking industry meetings. “Be the kind of person people want to work with, and be patient when seeking out a talent agent,” she advises.
Similarly, as you prepare for your meeting, think through the unique challenges and opportunities of the venue in which you’re meeting. With COVID, more and more of these meetings are happening over Zoom, which presents opportunities for people who may not live near an entertainment capital but also presents challenges to consider too.
“Covid had a major effect on the amount of the scripts that were supposed to be made but productions were shut down in the past few years. As such, it became a lot more difficult to sell a script,” -Sergei Bespalov
Meeting with industry executives via Zoom presents a host of opportunities. Clearly, having the opportunity to meet via Zoom means not having to fly to New York City or Los Angeles to take the meeting. But mastering a successful Zoom meeting is an art. Here are a few tips for making your Zoom meeting as effective as possible:
- Choose the best space in your house – this includes choosing a room with a lot of natural light (if this isn’t possible, consider investing in a clip-on light for your computer.) Avoid sitting in front of a window, and any back-lighting. Ensure a nice, professional background as well.
- Consider sound – large, empty rooms can create an echo or impact your sound quality. Think through as well whether there are potential external sounds you need to limit – street traffic, a pet, etc.
- Enter the Zoom meeting with your camera off and on mute – This helps make sure you are meeting-ready before you show up in front of the industry professional.
What should you do after an industry meeting?
Keep a running record of all industry meetings you are participating in, including who was there and their contact information. After each meeting, write up a few notes about your initial impressions and any questions or requests they had that require follow-up on your end.
Consider how to follow up with the industry professional as well. During the meeting, be sure to get an understanding of how the industry professional operates – should you follow up directly with him or her? Or is there an assistant or other executive that will be your point of contact? Do they prefer phone, text, email, or some other form of communication?
Lastly, be sure to send your thanks for the meeting to everyone involved, including any assistants. A small follow-up message or even a gift can also go a long way – a chocolate sampler, a bottle of wine, or some other token of your appreciation.
People will always remember the ones who were kind, gracious, and genuine.
After 15 years of working in state and national politics, Sarah Chaisson-Warner is moving into the entertainment industry. As the former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Athena Magazine for Girls, Sarah is now focusing her passion for creative arts through screenwriting. Many of her feature-length scripts focus on the often unseen experiences of gay women throughout American History, and she is also currently writing a sci-fi and a family Christmas script. Her script, Serafina Stavinovna, was placed in “The Next 100” in the 2021 Nicholl Fellowship Competition.
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