Deal Making in the Back Room

Right. So why have I avoided talking about the meeting with PoshMum? Because I’m not sure how it went, and I was hoping she’d get in touch with me today. I hung around the office hoping she’d ring, and just as I’d given up hope she called (or her purchasing person rang). But let me start from the beginning.

On Friday later afternoon, RGirl drove us out to the location of the shoot. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve never been to a movie set before, and it really wasn’t what I thought it would be. I thought there would be barriers and guards and people buzzing about. I thought there would be trailers and director’s chairs and glamours people in big wigs and costumes. There was none of that.

I’d done my research on PoshMum before hand, and her production company seems to do a mixture of releases ranging from low budget art house to bigger films with movie stars. I was/is meeting her on the set of a little low budget art film. They were filming on location in a little town outside Biloxi, and they were using a local house they rented out. On the street was a caravan and there was a marquee in the neighbour’s front garden. There were quite a few people milling about, but otherwise there was no indication that this was a film set, as opposed to a party or a crime scene. Or, well, I guess there were indications, but since I have no idea what’s going on then I wouldn’t have known.

We arrived and parked the car; as soon as we got out someone approached to ask us to move it, but we explained that we were here to see PoshMum, and were then directed to the caravan.

PoshMum is long and slender like her daughter, but has begun to get a hint of an American accent. She gave me a double European kiss and introduced her Rights and Royalty Manager, and I introduced RGirl. I was about to say she was my assistant, but felt that was a little ridiculous, so I stammered quite a bit, shuffled about, but RGirl jumped in and said, ‘Hi. I’m [NFTI]’s assistant.’ And PoshMum bought it.

The caravan was crammed with people, including make-up and wardrobe, so PoshMum suggested that we take our meeting elsewhere. As we walked to the rear of the house they were shooting in, I made a bit of chit chat about how it was good of her to agree to meet me at such sort notice. As it turns out the Rights and Royalty Manager works for a third party and is hired by PoshMum’s production company – or maybe for the larger production company that works with PoshMum’s production company. (But to be honest, I’m not too sure how it works. They flew threw all that sort of stuff like I knew what they were talking about, and I didn’t want to stop them to ask questions, or else I’d look like some sort of novice. I think there’s parent companies, and subsidiaries, and so on and so forth. But no one should quote me on any of this as I have no clue.) Anyway, the Rights and Royalties Manager is hired in when needed.

Anyway, RRManager made a trip to Mississippi to finalise some details on another couple of projects PoshMum is producing, so it was just good timing – and the generosity of the Agency staff – that I could make it to Biloxi as well.

We went into the back door of the house, and they were between takes. A back bedroom had been set up as an office, and as PoshMum walked in she fluttered her hands at those in the room, who scattered and left without saying a word.

RGirl and I took a seat on a sofa and PoshMum and RRManager took the two larger chairs. It was totally a power play situation as the sofa was quite low to the ground and the other two towered above us.

I wasn’t sure if I should mention Posh’s ‘little accent’, or even the fact that this is a favour granted through her daughter. Or should I keep it all professional and above board. So when PoshMum said, ‘You share a wall with my daughter do you not?’

I nodded and said ‘Yes’.

‘Do you believe she did all she could to pass this PhD?’

I answered that while Posh did seem to work very hard, and was always doing something with her thesis, I really couldn’t say if she ‘did all she could’.

PoshMum narrowed her eyes and said, ‘If you share a wall, I assume you can hear when she is entertaining, and could ascertain, through an educated guess, if these interludes were hindering her studies. I would also believe that if my daughter has specifically rung me to tell me about your position in publishing, which she has, the two of you must be fairly close. Ergo, you would know if she attended to her studies above all else.’

A bit flummoxed, I said, ‘Uhm, yeah. I guess. I mean, yes. She seemed dedicated to her studies. I think what happened was beyond her control.’

‘Nothing is ever out of one’s control.’ Then she said, ‘What do you make of her plans to be an art dealer?’

I didn’t have to think about this answer, so I said straight away, ‘She’s quite the shark and knows her art. I think she’ll be brilliant.’

‘Finally, an honest answer. I expect the rest of this meeting to be as forthright as this last response.’

Wow, I was trembling. Literally trembling. I had to put one hand on top of the other to keep from shaking.

PoshMum then launched right into it, she loves the book, and asked about the US distribution. The woman could see through to my soul. She was a human lie detector, so I was honest and said that we haven’t got a US publisher. Suddenly, her body language changed, and I could tell that she was about to end the meeting. So, I said, ‘Yet. We don’t have one yet, but we’re in the process of negotiating the North American rights.’

PoshMum relaxed and asked if Actor was definately willing to be on the project.

I said ‘yes’, and she added, ‘I like him.’

Then RRManager spoke for the first time since we arrived. She began to talk about the rights to adapt the book into a major motion picture and its release in DVD and sequal making rights. She also started talking about advertising rights and promotional rights. It was all going well, as these were things I/we were happy to relinquish (based on previous talks with the gals back at the Agency and Conspiracy). I then mentioned that we would like to retain the rights to reuse characters for book sequels as well as certain publication rights.

RRManager asked if there was a sequel? I said that there wasn’t one as such, but not only has Conspiracy written a follow-up book to the first one (only loosely connected to his first novel), we’re in the process of pitching the blog/book.

PoshMum waved her hand like she did when we entered the room, and RRManager stopped speaking.

‘Blogs are quite the rage at the moment,’ she said. ‘What’s this blog book all about?’ (The book has a proper working title, but I’ve gotten into the bad habit of calling it a blog book. I must stop that.)

I gave her the pitch, and expected to go back to discussing the film rights for Conspiracy’s first book, but she suddenly wasn’t at all interested in his first book, and said exactly that. Instead, now she’s interested in the blog book, and asked if I had a copy on me. I had my laptop with me, so I pulled up a copy and handed her my netbook. She sat silently reading for nearly twenty minutes. I wasn’t sure what to do? Should I leave? Was the meeting over? If so, I wanted my laptop back.

Eventually, she said ‘The other deal. It’s off the table. I want to finish reading this one. Can you email this to me?’

I took the laptop, was given the wireless key, and sent her a copy. She then said that she would be in touch and she stood up.

This was obviously our cue to leave. We shook hands and RRManager took us out the house so that we wouldn’t disrupt the filming.

RRManger was walking with us across the lawn when a young man came running after us. He had two tickets in his hand, ‘She wanted me to give you this. She got them as comp, and thought you might like to go since she can’t.’

It was two tickets to Kenny Rogers which was playing in the Casino that evening.

On the way back to the hotel, I rang Paris – damned be the cost of an international call – and asked her if she could put out some feelers on selling the North American rights to Conspiracy’s first book. I then told her the whole story. She suggested that she puts out a feeler for North American rights as a three book deal, that way the second book will also be picked up in the US, which may be a better plan since PoshMum is more interested in the book/blog at this point. News of North American rights may also get the things jumping on the auction of the book/blog in the UK.

Then I called Loraine, who was very supportive and said that she thought I’d done an amazing job. Although, I wasn’t so sure. I had a deal on the table and accidently lost it all, thanks to an off the cuff comment.

I then rang Conspiracy, who refused to speak with me as he was in the middle of writing. Instead, I spoke with Saint who was more than pleased that I’d even gotten this far.

You know, at that point, I felt like such a failure. It’s why I needed the Gulf Shores holiday with my NO mates the next day. I couldn’t face going back to the office empty handed.

Right, I’ve got to go. I’ll fill you in on the rest later.

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4 responses to “Deal Making in the Back Room

  1. Failure? You sat down with someone who sounds like a fairly well-known producer in the Hollywood mix, gave her a pitch, and have her interested in producing a movie that didn’t even exist a month ago. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Most people would have been shitting bricks. Sounds to me like you FANTASTIC! Good gods, woman, give yourself at least a bit of a pat on the back, would you? Conspiracy wasn’t even going to be a client of the Agency much longer until you came along. Now the Agency will be working to get him a three book deal? Don’t get me wrong, the situation is still tenuous, and there’s probably a lot of work left to do, but don’t sell yourself short in the face of so much evidence of your own awesomeness.

  2. I think you (and others like you) are the reason I keep the blog going. You’re my cheerleading section. Thanks so much for the support. I just feel so luckly sometimes, not talented. Thanks for reminding me of all the hard work I do. 🙂

  3. emofalltrades

    Really, lots of people standing around in hats, t-shirts and sneakers IS the biggest sign. And lots of cables everywhere, as well as big trailers and trucks. I’m with SkyddsDrake – sitting down with these folks is a BIG DEAL, regardless of the result – and you’re still in it. You never know what can happen. 🙂

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