I don’t want you to make this mistake.  It’s a biggie. 

This mistake isn’t something forgivable like taking too long to get to your inciting incident.  It’s not the unsavory practice of using “ing” words in your description.  It’s not even -- gasp -- submitting a spec with more than 120 pages!

Those –- if they really are mistakes -- are baby blunders, the kinds writers make when they first start out.

I made this misstep -- the biggie -- after getting some huge breaks, after I had dozens of meetings set up and plenty of interest in my writing.

My mistake was based on a false belief.  The false belief was this:

I thought meetings with producers were job interviews.

They aren’t.

When I was finally lucky enough to have UTA sending my work out to reputable producers all over town, I was able to schedule meeting after meeting.

At this point, I assumed I was days away from a mammoth payout.

The truth is:  These meetings aren’t about money, because almost no producer has the means to offer you any money at all.

A few with independent financing connections will occasionally shell out $5000 for an option or writing assignment, but it’s very rare.

In at least one way, producers are very similar to writers.  They want money from the same place you do.  The studios.

The studios have all the cash.  And only the top-top studio execs have any power to spend money.

When you really think about it, there are probably only a few dozen individuals in the whole industry who -- if they wanted to -- can just decide to hand over any real currency.

So if all these producer meetings aren’t about getting you paid, then what are they about?

In part, they’re about opportunities to write for these producers for free.  (The pros and cons of such offers are a subject for another article.)

In part, they’re about producers needing to meet anyone other producers are meeting, so they don’t feel left behind.

But what they’re really about is this:

You’re making a connection.  You’re meeting producers with whom you might form a long-term relationship. 

And one of those long-term writer/producer relationships might some day, after months or even years, lead to a time when the two of you find yourselves in a room with a studio exec -- and the possibility of real money.

When I first started taking these meetings, I was so confused.  Nobody was offering me any paying jobs.  After much frustration, I finally mentioned this confusion to my manager. 

He told me, “You’re not there to get a job.  This is a business of relationships.  People give jobs to their friends.”

So, to sum up, my mistake was this:

When I finally found myself in these producer meetings, I was looking for a job when I should have been looking for a friend.