The Noodles & The Tanks

 Pitching Hollywood

Can you smell it? That’s fear. It’s not coming from me, though. I wear a good deodorant.

AFM at Loews Hotel Santa MonicaI spent the summer in Los Angeles—specifically North Hollywood, right down the street from Universal Pictures. As I do every several weeks, I meet with film companies, pitch stories and leave my material—scripts and film treatments—to be reviewed. A meeting can be anywhere from twenty minutes (that’s my shortest) to several hours. It can also involve food, but more often it’s in an office somewhere in Beverly Hills or Wilshire Blvd.

I typically go into a meeting with at least eight to ten stories under my belt in all stages of development. I’ve pitched everything
from all ten to just one. After every meeting, I’ve been asked to provide a film treatment or completed movie script. (That’s a pretty good average.)

I write in almost every genre—from comedy and chick flicks to young adult and drama—you name it. That’s because I adore a great story, I love writing and I’m prolific. I watch more movies than anyone I know, and I tend to watch them more than once. I read and I admire book lovers, bibliophiles and authors. I write books, too—lots of them. I believe that success comes when you love what you do.

There’s a lot of confusion about what Hollywood is looking for. In fact, that’s the main question not just with writers, but with
film makers themselves. What’s the next best thing?

The answer is: the next best thing is what you believe it is. It’s what you’ve written for a target audience you know intimately.  You conjured the story, so it must have bubbled up from that magical place. The one when you get goose bumps not just after you wrote it, but as you’re writing it.

If it’s good, and I assume it is, then trust it will find a home. I do. That’s why I don’t sweat in meetings. Well, that, and my deodorant.

Since I’ve already set forces in motion, I expect that they’ll be realized.

Here’s who I’ve met—people who are fearful. I call them Noodles because they’re slippery, without much substance, and they easily fall through your fingers. They often make sounds like “hmmm,” and “ummm,” without any kind of  declaration of what they felt or thought about a story. Their livelihood depends on whether they should take a chance on your work—or someone else’s. Taking a chance means a studio and distributor spend lots of money. If they make the wrong choice and the movie bombs, someone might call them out on it.

Noodles don’t like to take a chance. They want certainty. And we all know what that means.

This is what I like—the people who are fearless. I call them Tanks. Things bounce off of them and they often make comments like, “I hate it, I like it, I’m impressed, I’m offended, I feel, I think…” That’s a good thing. I know where I stand as a writer.  Hell, I know where I stand as a human. Tanks move boldly forward.

There’s something to be said about living courageously and passionately. And yes, you’ll hear, “no” from time to time.

Again, I’m not afraid. I’m not worried my story isn’t good. Not every movie script is right for every film company.

By the way, I’m not particularly offended by the Noodles. They simply need someone—that’s you—to ask this question: “What is it you like?” Abruptly, you’ll find the conversation turning into a discussion instead of a pitch. That’s okay. If you listen, you’ll get a story out of it.

Maybe not one you’ve written, but one you’d like to write.

–   Jennifer

Email me by hitting the Contact Button. I reply to everyone. The Witch and the Devil’s Son is being rereleased with a fancy new book jacket—thanks friends from Universal Pictures—and will be available on Kindle. Cheap. Because that’s the way we like it.  If you want to respond, I look forward to your comments.

Jennifer B. White is an award-winning director, writer and Hollywood copywriter and tagline writer. All her opinions and photos are her own.  

6 responses to “The Noodles & The Tanks”

  1. Kevin M. says:

    Noodles & Tanks, a perfect analogy. it’s always better to find honesty, then another pile of BS stinking up the place.


  2. L. Knowles says:

    This made me feel better about what I’m working on. You get lots of negativity and this put it in perspective. Like your writing style. Found you on Twitter and now following. love to read more!

  3. tyler says:

    wow, this was phenomenally analyzed. Tanks and Noodles…CLASSIC PEG!

    Seriously, that’s awesome and you’re essentially doing my dream job. I’d be honored if you’d kill me off in a small scene in one of your scripts you don’t like as much.

    Seriously, your words are all kinds of well-constructed.

  4. tyler says:

    *kinds, not kids. maybe kids, but probably not.

  5. Great post! Awesome voice. Really like you’re stuff. Feel free to check me out as well

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