There are three key attributes that most people think they possess. One: a good taste in music. Two: a good sense of humour. And three: a good judge of character. Mind you, there’s an all-important fourth: good taste in the opposite sex.
We can’t all be right though, can we? Beethoven’s Fourth Movement of his Ninth Symphony will be majestic to some but dull and pointless to others. For those who cannot watch a Monty Python sketch without enduring physical howls of laughter will only watch in blank awe at the returning power of My Family. And the classification of someone being a ‘babe’ will always be hotly disputed by horny teens everywhere.
But what about being a good judge of character? We all possess this trait, don’t we? At least, we’re fairly sure we do. The thing is, the world is full of nice people. Despite the atrocities and avarice all around the globe, the population of normal and polite civilians far outweigh those of a political or nefarious attitude.
Within the small circle of our lives, we will come into contact with a wide host of these normal and polite civilians. Some will be normal, polite and dull, others will be normal, polite and work in the film industry. And to make it in the world of showbiz, and in particular screenwriting, these are the people we want as our friends.
This doesn’t make us selfish or rude, far from it. In an industry where a smile and a handshake will get you a gig above the quality of your work, it is positively encouraged. It is not disingenuous for screenwriters to try to be friendly to those who hold the power. Those who feel awkward about insincere attempts to impress people they wouldn’t normally be seen dead with shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. It’s part of the job. Network. Smile. Be normal, polite. And creative.
Still, there are times when you feel you connect with someone because they share your sense of passion and work ethic, and you admire their commitment and personality. Just look at what a blog can do. In my link sidebar, I’ve met friends, colleagues and mentors who are great people and inspirational scribes in equal measure.
It’s with this emotional connection that positive friendships and developments occur, and mainly because they mirror some facet of your own personality that you cherish and uphold. Perhaps this sounds a little trite but let me try to put it into context.
Last Friday, I had a meeting with a producer whom I very much like and we talked about my latest script (not the one I did in four days, the one I completed before Christmas). Of course, he has no money but I like his style and what he has to say, he has a genuine and honest passion for scripts, and this makes me feel more positive and energised about doing something together rather than being steamrollered by a bigger studio.
On the way home, I got thinking about a lovely script editor I worked with who’s now got a great job for the BBC and I thought: she was great, I hope she’s doing well, I hope we get to work together again. And I thought of another script editor I liked, also at the Beeb, and again the same notion: I felt I made a good connection with them, they’re probably very busy and doing very well.
When I got home, I pressed ‘play’ on my answerphone and would you believe it, there was a message from one of the script editors, wanting to have a chat! Talk about freaky! He didn’t say what he wanted to chat about but he got me all a jitter as my mind tried to fathom why he would be calling (I literally hadn’t spoken to him in a year).
All weekend my brain worked overtime as it went from “he wants to offer me work” to “he wants to have a go at me for something I’ve said on the blog” to “god jesus, what does he want?” Turns out he wanted to hook me up with a director who’s thinking of making a short film. Phew.
Today, I have a meeting about an animation pilot that me and Sam are going to write and that came about because I was on the Mesh judging panel last year, and I struck it off with one of the jurors, who just happened to have a project that he wanted to get off the ground with the help of a couple of writers…
Excellent stuff. All because of a positive contact and more importantly, a friendly connection.
So go well. And be nice.