24 October 11
Hello Topeblogtweeps!! (I decided I’m going to call our millions of avid blogreaders ‘Topeblogtweeps’ – Justin Bieber has Beliebers and Glee has Gleeks , so I don’t see why we don’t get cute nicknames for our fans) – long time no blog. We’ve been back from NY for a good fortnight and haven’t written anything. This is our fault – we’ve been busy, Pete’s been jetlagged, I’ve been working ineffectually in a pub (yesterday my manager said, “New York’s changed you – you’ve stopped bothering to lay the tables properly,” which is true), but mostly we’re useless.
I’d like to make it up to you by presenting a 15 minute, expertly filmed fully CGI incorporated video blog detailing every step of our NYTVF journey. I’d like to do that but I can’t because we didn’t film anything. I know, we’re doubly useless, but give me a break - while everyone else was running about finding spare corners to liveblog themselves like their lives were the Big Brother diary room, Pete and I were busy living large, sipping cocktails in Soho, brokering multimillion dollar deals and seducing beautiful actresses (nb: these are lies. Cocktails in Soho were too expensive, nobody offered us multimillion dollar anything, and relatively few actresses were seduced. Although one guy did say he wished I were gay, so that’s something). Literally the only thing I have is a video of Pete preparing to eat a Double Big Mac, which isn’t particularly relevant, but here it is anyway because IMAGINE IT! A double Big Mac! Like a normal Big Mac but with twice the meat! America: home of the brave.
In the next week or so we’ll write a few posts detailing our various adventures in New York, and will try to communicate anything we learned. Today I’ll chat about the meetings the NYTVF set up with various agents. There were three in all, with the big agencies, but I’m going to mostly talk about our meeting with one chap in particular, because, frankly, it opened my eyes to the insanity of the world we’d entered.
Part of the festival setup were Development Chats at Tribeca Cinema , between festival founder Terrence Grey and various luminaries from all corners of the industry, from digital strategy to reality programming. These were illuminating and often hilarious – a highlight was somebody from the SyFy offering top tips to wannabe producers – “Don’t make a post-apocalyptic film set in LA. We can see that it’s just an abandoned alleyway. It’s rubbish.” Good advice.
An hour pre-meeting, we saw The Agent participate in one of these talks and it was the best (by which I mean the maddest) of the bunch. He was definitely one of the most interesting people there, solely because he was the spit of the no BS Hard Talk Hollywood Agent Cliché you see on TV. Because I’m a bit scared of him, I don’t want to misrepresent him. I was taking notes throughout the talk so I’ll just copy them word-for-word:
"Two ways to get into writing TV. One: Move to LA. Two: be insanely talented."
"[The way to get into writing TV is] pretend to be a TV writer for 6 years."
"In my experience, it’s hard to be creatively talented and also a well-adjusted human being."
"I have a client, I’ll kill for that client, I’ll rip a producer’s lungs out for that client"
[Re: a certain Youtube comedy sensation and its chances of representation] –“I don’t care how many hits it’s got, it’s a piece of shit”
Note to self - This guy rules. I’m scared of this meeting.
By the end of the chat I was quivering in my seat, and we hadn’t even met the guy yet. One hour later we were in the meeting. It started well, he was very pleasant, complimented the script, the sophistication of the writing and our ‘unique voice’. He offered us three positives and one negative. Positives: we were young, British and ‘talented’. Negative: we were white. Apparently being an ethnic minority is a bonus in TV writing rooms – they automatically get one free “Diversity Hire” which doesn’t affect their budgets, so if we’d both been Jamaican things would’ve been a whole lot easier for us on this single occasion. Then things got strange. The meeting was on Thursday, the afternoon before the performance of the script, so I invited him along:
“There’s a live reading of the script this evening. Come down!”
There was a pause. Then he obviously thought, screw it, let’s give them both barrels. “Guys, I’ll be straight with you here. I don’t do jerkoff meetings. I’m very interested in you two.”
Jerkoff meetings? Nobody in Britain says that. Nobody in Britain even knows what jerking off is. I realised then that we were in a brave new world, a land only glimpsed in TV and Raymond Chandler novels, where agents ripped out lungs and hashed out option deals with stanley knives and billy clubs, probably. Here was a man who’d got a young writer a staff position on The Simpsons, telling us that he was interested in our work and wanted to read more. I’m being entirely serious when I say that the phrase ‘jerkoff meeting’ was what really put the NY experience in context, really showed me how much of an opportunity we’d been given, how utterly impossible it would be for us to be in a room with this man without the BAFTA/Rocliffe NYTF scheme. So I’m sincerely and non-jokingly taking this opportunity to thank everyone involved with the scheme – Farah, Alex, Kam, Suzie, and others – for the opportunity. Without you guys, we wouldn’t have gone to NY, and wouldn’t had heard a man in a suit telling us about jerkoff meetings. And our lives would be much less exciting. Thank you.