How To Act In A General Meeting
If you’re gonna make it in Hollywood as a writer, you gotta talk to the generals.
A lot of people in Hollywood act like “taking a general” is no big deal, but when you realize what this kind of meeting is actually like, you’ll definitely think twice before going in unprepared. These generals are highly decorated military officers who have seen more than their fair share of both the battlefield and the cineplex. If you’re going to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter, you need their official approval.
Salute Them Each One By One
Not saluting a five-star general upon entering a room is like spitting on their jacket and then kicking them in the shinbone. It’s terrible. Definitely practice your salute in the mirror before the big general meeting. I’ve seen way too many aspiring writers poke themselves in the eye by misjudging the distance between their salute hand and their face.
Give Them Fifty Push Ups
Push-ups are basically currency in the military. “Get on the floor and give me twenty!” they might bark at you. I say, impress the hell out of these generals by just plopping straight down on the carpet and slamming down fifty perfect up-and-downs (military lingo, don’t worry about it). You might sweat a whole lot and be totally out of breath but honestly the more you can glisten and sound like a panting Rottweiler, the more they’ll give each other silent nods like “Whoa. This kid’s got mettle. I bet he can write.”
Respond “Yes, sir, general, sir” or “Yes, ma’am, general, ma’am” to Everything
Stoicism and politeness are important qualities in a general meeting. If you go all Russell Brand on them and spit out your whole jittery life story in one unbroken barrage, these generals might dive under the table for cover. Even if they test you by asking a question that a yes or no answer makes no sense to respond with, stay the course. “What’s one of your favorite films?” “No, sir.” PERFECT.
Know Absolutely Everything About U.S. Foreign Policy
How are things in North Korea? Syria? Russia? Where are America’s potential weaknesses? If you don’t understand global military strategy then how the hell are you supposed to restructure your third act so that your protagonist shows that he/she has grown as a person? It’s all the same thing. An actor that refuses to come out of their trailer to do a scene might as well be a stubborn dictator who treats their people like garbage. Do you intervene and push the door in? Or do you hold back and try to diplomatically slip notes to them through the door until they calm down? In this crowd, the answer is always to slam your fist on the table and say, “WE STRIKE AT DAWN!” (a rare exception to the ‘Yes, sir’/’No, ma’am’ rule)
Pitch Them an Epic War Movie With Each Of Them As The Main Characters
Saving Private Ryan was writer Robert Rodat’s desperate improvisation in a general meeting to save his career and boy did that pay off! Before you go into that meeting, memorize the names of each of the generals that will be in the room and then come up with a poetic sounding war movie title that involves some sort of location like The Brothers of Scapegoat Valley or Glory Hill. Then slide your script proposal across the table without saying a word and let them give it a read while you do another fifty push-ups.
Stand up, salute, and get outta there, soldier! Welcome to Hollywood.