January 22, 2007 12:17 PM
The first time I went to NATPE, I was there to distribute a musical special I produced. Well, associate produced. I didn't have enough money to buy my admissions pass, so I grabbed an empty messenger-type envelope and said I had a delivery to make.
This actually worked, and I was let into the convention.
The second time I went to NATPE, I was also there to distribute a musical special. This time, I really was the producer. We held "screenings" in one of the hotel rooms. Unfortunately, the only people that responded to the show was the director and a few of the hotel staff.
This is a memory I've unsuccessfully repressed.
Subsequent NATPEs have been good to me. Last year, I got a two blind-pilot script deal with a network. I made the president of the network sign a napkin. This was the initial contract. My office still has the napkin, even though we've since negotiated a formal, legal deal.
This past Wednesday, I woke up at 4:30 AM. My Senior Vice President met me at my house at 5 AM. We drove to Vegas. He kept trying to talk about Hunter Thompson and how uncanny it was that we've entered the world of gonzo entertainment. What Hunter did for journalism, he said, is what Johnny Knoxville, Donald Trump and various format-producers have done for television.
This was somewhat astute, I admit, but I wasn't interested in waxing about reality television. We had pitches to work on, so I made him brainstorm with me while we cranked up Big Audio Dynamite and headed further into the cold of the morning desert.
We worked, and we joked, and we told each other that we hated each other and hated being in the car together, and we actually figured out the pitches that hung over our heads like anvils waiting to be dropped.
(This was his allegory, since he was still trying to embrace the whole Hunter thing.)
We arrived at 9:30. He said let's get breakfast. I said okay, but didn't mean it, and we registered and hit the floor with nothing to work off of other than a few cups of caffeine and the omnipresent energy of the sale.
David Mamet always applies: Always be closing.
And we did. Closing a couple development deals, figuring out a long-term distribution agreement and re-connecting with some old friends of mine who now could buy me, sell me, and still have several million left over for a couple houses around the world.
NATPE is strange, and I mean this in the way Hunter would have meant this. The top of our industry rub shoulders with those that are just hoping for a break. Looking at several of the faces, it was hard to tell the difference. But for some, it was written all over the way they looked around the room.
Oh, we ended the day by losing at blackjack. But that was okay, because we felt like we had already done our duties, and won in our craft.
At least for another day, that is...