You don’t know me, but can you help me?

Let’s not complicate things with petty details like who I am

So this email arrived yesterday.

“Hi, Paul, Do you know any past or current Executive Producers that might be eager to engage in a new multi-billion dollar franchise that could be as good as “Harry Potter” or “Star Wars”?”

Immediate smartass answer: Well, of course I do, person-I’ve-never-communicated-with-before! I like the cut of your jib, especially with that totally unsolicited request for help! I’ll pass your info along straightaway! Even though I think smoking is a totally unhealthy thing, I’m going to learn how just to be able to literally light cigars with hundred-dollar bills which I’ll be grabbing out of the huge bags o’cash which will no doubt be continuously rolling in once Hollywood gets its mitts on this!

Secondary upon-reflection answer: Do you really think this is the best approach?

Sure, we’ve been connected on a networking site for several years, but as far as I can recall, have had absolutely no interaction during that time. No emails. No comments on a post. Not even a single “Hey, how’s it going?” And then, totally out of the blue, you come to me and ask for help.

I’m more than happy to help somebody out when I can, but it has to be somebody I know, somebody I’ve communicated with, and somebody I think is worth helping. Apart from this nebulous “connection” we have, to me you’re little more than a total stranger.

And you’re not asking for just any kind of help. You have what you proclaim to be “the next big thing”. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or read that about a script/story/idea, I’d be able to fund my own franchise.

It’s great that you have a high opinion of your material, as you should, but keep in mind you might be the only one who does. You can prognosticate all you want, but that’s not going to impact anything. You can’t say something’s going to be a hit because you want it to be.

I’m still a little fuzzy on the details, but I think the title “Executive Producer” depends on the extent of that person’s involvement with the project. Until then, I believe “producer” is the appropriate title. Feel free to enlighten the rest of us in the comment section.

Let’s also discuss the fact that you sent this to me. Me. Why? I’m not exactly Mr Industry Insider. In fact, I’m more likely in the same boat as you; a nobody busting his ass trying to establish a career. Did you know that? Did you do any research, or are you just sending this to as many people as possible, hoping one of them works out?

I never responded to the email in question, simply because I don’t think it’s worth it. I suspect anything short of “Here are those names you asked for” would not be welcome, let alone “This is a really unprofessional email, and here’s why”. As always, I wish them the best of luck.

I’ll admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years, but each one has been a learning experience unto itself. I’ve learned how to network, how to communicate, and how to interact. I know how to seek out help and how to offer it. I’m a firm believer in researching and finding out everything I can about whatever it is I’m working on.

I always strive to be as professional as I can when it comes to this sort of thing. Everybody’s a potential future partner/connection/resource, but I don’t take it for granted.

I’ll treat you with respect provided you do the same.

8 thoughts on “You don’t know me, but can you help me?

  1. Oh jeez!
    No wonder you feel mildly amused and totally — incensed, Paul!
    I would have been, too!
    The mind boggles with this kind of brazen arrogance –
    But this, folks, is the brutal cut throat reality of screen writing/film business! Everyone wants something (from you) for nothing, and everybody thinks their script/ story/idea is the next best thing and that Hollywood will trample over themselves to be the first to pick it up from YOU!

    Reality check: Ain’t gonna happen – well not anytime soon!
    It takes years to finally master the craft, and many more hours and years to build those connections with people that matter and for these very same people to start to trust you, your QUALITY of WORK and your INTENTIONS (integrity).
    That’s called “reputation.”
    Good luck!

    Thanks for sharing, Paul.
    Keep writing!’We all know what it takes!!!

  2. Paul, I swear I didn’t send that email using an alias. As far as I can recall, I haven’t had one of my late night “Too much bourbon, not enough sleep; can’t recall what I wrote the next AM” email episodes in some time. If I had sent it, I would have at least offered you a cut of the future profits. You might want to create a list of agents who are dead & offer those names to such people. I’d put “Swifty” Lazar on the list but even though he’s dead, I hear rumors, he’s still making deals. Hi, May W.

    • Can’t remember which list it was on, but despite being dead for at least several years, one of the reps is still listed.

      • I think I know that guy. At least now I know why he hasn’t returned any of my calls. Hey, at least it saves me having to buy him lunch. Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family.

    • Hi James Syring! Thought you were away on “writer’s retreat” – disconnected from all social media and INTERNET connectivity. Tssk–Hard to keep up the good intentions when falling for the temptations of –bourbon and fake emails, unashamedly trying to extract VIP information from those “suspecting’ individuals with prominent profiles on social media platforms! Gotcha!!! (-:

      A Tip: Remember the subtext, James! BTW How’s the rewrites coming along?!

      • May West, You remind me of Sister Joseph from my grammar school days, who always caught me when I thought I was getting away with something. Rewrites are on hold. A lot of reasons but none that hold up. I promise I’ll do better. I did enter two scripts into a “family friendly” contest. Mea Culpa. Jim

  3. Probably someone who hasn’t yet learned the awful fact: Ideas are two for a quarter. This reminds me of Alexander King’s anecdote of being sworn to secrecy, then led to a hut by a man who proudly unveiled a strange apparatus. After many fretful adjustments, the man pressed a lever, and a metal claw leapt out and tore a hole in a piece of paper. More adjustments, during which King realized: “This dingbat has re-invented the typewriter! And sooner or later, he’ll see an Underwood and think that I stole his idea, and come looking for me.”

    There a reason why “executive producers” make themselves hard to find.

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