Monday, February 28, 2011

Meetings in Television

My two and a half year old daughter has come up with an excellent way of making a sentence, when you're not entirely sure of every specific word you need, by padding out the excess with the words 'WUBWUBWUBWUB'.

Hence: 'want toast and jam WUBWUBWUBWUB warm milk please'. This does make it sound like I'm sharing the house with a tiny dubstep producer, but it's a technique I've started using in my meetings, mainly because my last few meetings have all been WEIRD.

Seriously, writers are always fretting about how to scrub up properly and maintain the illusion of being a functional human being in meetings, but I'm starting to think producers need to work on this just as much.


Producer takes me through achingly trendy office (all exposed industrial space and a Grifter nailed to one wall) to meeting room. Although it's probably called 'WOMBZONE', what with its reliance on organically shaped beanbags and tables that look like melted Airfix kits.

PRODUCER: So hey, read your stuff, like your stuff, think we can work together-

Producer sits down on an organically-shaped beanbag that's clearly about a foot lower than he expected, and very slowly rolls off the beanbag and onto the floor. Fantastically, he keeps his iPad held aloft the entire time.

PRODUCER: -get you a coffee?



I am having a meeting with a comedy producer, to discuss a spec pilot sitcom script Patroclus and I have written together. It is set in the tech industry, although we've been very careful to make sure the tech stuff is at a minimum, you don't really need to know anything about technology to understand it, it's just really about people behaving like dicks. But, you know, amusingly.


(note, this meeting was less than a year ago)

ME: It's, erm.... seriously, how do you not know what Facebook is? I mean, I don't like it particularly, but-

PRODUCER: Is it like Twitter?

ME: (cautiously) Ish?

PRODUCER: The runner uses Twitter. That script you sent me is all about tech stuff, so I thought you might be able to tell me what Face book is.


ME: You do know I came up from Cornwall for this.

PRODUCER: I don't really get all this geeky stuff. You need to take it out of your scripts, I could probably do something with them then.

ME: Right, only the new script I sent you? What Patroclus and did was, we made sure although it is set in the tech industry, we kept the tech stuff is at a minimum, you don't really need to know anything about technology to understand it, it's just really about people behaving like dicks.

PRODUCER: I didn't understand a word of it, there was all techy stuff in it. You should send me some ideas. Couple of pages, one paragraph each. WE SHOULD TOTALLY DO STUFF TOGETHER.

Later I email the producer some ideas. They don't get back to me. A month later I send some more. I still haven't heard anything.


ME: Right, so, the outline's for 6x60 minutes episodes, it's kind of a crime drama, but not murder of the week sort of thing, more like the crappy investigation jobs real detectives have to do - minor embezzlement, divorce cases, that sort of thing, but the cases always spin off into more elaborate stories, Kind of funny, slightly surreal sometimes. So there's bits of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN in there, BIG LEBOWSKI, kind of a Chandleresque vibe. But with room to go into slightly spooky urban territory, there's one story where I want to draw on J-Horror, like THE RING, DARK WATER, that kind of thing.

Long pause.

PRODUCER: So this is a sitcom?

ME: Erm... no. Sixty minute crime drama? There will be funny bits in it, but it's really more-

PRODUCER: What's it like living in Cornwall? My partner and I are thinking of relocating.

ME: Is this why you got me up here?

PRODUCER: Partly, yes.

I panic.



This last bit didn't happen, sadly.


Boz said...

What were the biscuits like?

James Henry said...


Boz said...


Stuart said...

Laughed and laughed.

Anonymous said...

The Guardian's new offices have a meeting room with stupidly low couches. Very colourful, of course, and no doubt meant to be all "creative" and "relaxed" and stuff, but obviously designed by a man. Possibly a very short man. But a man, for sure. Because I look at them, and all I can think is "oookay, better never wear a skirt on a meeting day, also, no heels". Basically the opposite of relaxing. Still, not beanbags, so chances of actually rolling off them are minimal.

...Love the sound of that crime drama, though. Someone should make that. Yah.

Rosie said...

Ha, ha. Nice post.

Hector said...

Pitch a drama about TV execs who relocate to Cornwall, only to be elaborately psychologically tortured by tech-minded Cornish writers. You could call it Straw Blogs.

James Henry said...

springonmars: this is why I don't wear heels to meetings any more.

Hector: YES, LIKE IT.

Unknown said...

You should get a 'like' button on your posts. I would press it.

tom owen said...

I think 'WUBWUBWUBWUB' will be very quickly entering my personal lexicon.

Simon Harries said...

What a fantastic article! Though I feel for you, having been in these scenarios. I've been very fortunate not to have come across any producers like this. Plenty of egomaniacs, of course, but no-one this dim or thoughtless! :-)