Film Courage: In terms of finding a person of influence that you want to have look at your work or get in contact with, I think there is a fine line in Los Angeles with so many people being pitched. How aggressive do you get? Because you don’t want to turn someone off.
Marc Scott Zicree: Well, one person (a writer) was once asked “When do you take no for an answer.” And he said “When they call security!” But I don’t really subscribe to that.
The real answer is first of all treat people the way you would want to be treated, so don’t be a jerk. I mean for one thing, you have no idea how many people in various circumstances will jam me up against a wall and start pitching their story to me. It’s like “Mr. Zicree! Mr. Zicree! You have to hear this. Okay, okay FADE IN…we open on the sky and we see the clouds and we’re panning down, we’re panning down. We see birds and we’re panning down, we’re panning down. We see a spire and it’s the Empire State Building. And we’re down it, a hundred and second, hundred and first!” Gosh! You know…please…no!
First of all, when you are pitching, never pitch every beat, every shot. No! It’s the broad strokes. But also you shouldn’t be pitching. Is that person buying stories? Why are you pitching to them? What’s in it for them?
But also, no one likes to be pitched in a social circumstance or if they’re giving a talk. It’s like [sighs] do I really want to stand here and listen for 20 minutes to someone’s story that I’ve known from the first minute is awful! No. What you want to do is first of all if you go to an event and someone who you admire is speaking, you remember The Rule of Three.
The Rule of Three is most people make the mistake of immediately pitching or immediately “I’m an actor. You’ve got to cast me. Here’s my headshot. Here is my reel.” You don’t know, you have not established a relationship with that person. The first time you meet them at an event, you just say something truthful (maybe about their work) but it has to be specific. “You know, there was that scene in that movie you did in 1981 where the little boy was talking to his mother. I had this really difficult relationships with my mother. When I saw that scene it opened a door in me somehow and I went and had a conversation with my mom and it changed our relationship.” That’s something that is going to resonate. That’s something truthful and meaningful from your heart. But don’t gush and don’t go on at length, okay? Because there are going to be other people who want to talk to this guy.
The other part, so the you go to a second event with that person and if you have a chance to talk to them at the end “Oh, hi! Mr. so-and-so. You know last time when we spoke and I told you about my mom and you said such and such, it really meant so much to me that you really care.” Or you say something again “And I just really want to let you know how much that meant to me,” right?
Then you go to the third event. The third event you run into them you say “Oh gosh, we keep running into each other. It’s like we’re swimming in the same aquarium. And it’s like, you’ve been so kind talking to me these last two times and there is something you said last time we talked. I really applied it. I made this film (or blah-blah-blah, whatever).” “Also I read in The Trades that you’re looking for a Western and basically the conversation I’m having I just thought, I don’t know if you’d be open to it? But I’ve written a Western and I’d love to have my representation send it to you, if you’d be open to that?” Or whatever the request is, you say it in a very respectful manner. You don’t go on at length. You stop at “Yes” or if he says no “That’s fine.” You let is go. But the point is by then you’re not jerk because you didn’t push the button at the first moment and secondly he’s gotten enough about you where he’s intrigued about you, so that’s the way you do it (or that’s one way to do it). Another way to do it is if you go to any event…(Continue to Part 2).
Author / Writer / Producer Marc Zicree emphasizes always treating people with respect and the way you would want to be treated especially when it comes pitching. He says 99.9% of people in Hollywood say they are going to do something and never do it. He then talks about one of the best things he’s ever heard about writing, “An amateur can rely on inspiration, a professional needs discipline.”
About Marc and Elaine:
Working both together and individually, writer-producer-directors Marc Scott Zicree and Elaine Zicree have sold over 100 teleplays, screenplays and pilots to every major studio and network, including landmark stories for such shows as STAR TREK– THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE, THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE, BABYLON 5, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, FOREVER KNIGHT, SLIDERS, LIBERTY’S KIDS, SUPERFRIENDS, HE-MAN, REAL GHOSTBUSTERS and SMURFS. Their work has been nominated for the American Book Award, Humanitas Prize, Diane Thomas Award, and Hugo and Nebula Awards, and they’ve won the TV Guide Award, prestigious Hamptons Prize and 2011 Rondo and Saturn Awards. Fans of their work include Steve Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Ray Bradbury, Damon Lindelof, Frank Darabont, Joss Whedon and millions of fans around the world (Read more here).