by Jon F. Merz, novelist (author of the Lawson Vampire novels), screenwriter, and now TV producer for the new TV show The Fixer
(Please note: all names have been changed in the interests of protecting the privacy of the people we've met with on this journey.)
The morning last February dawned bright and cold. Jaime and I suited up and prepared to enter a meeting with a woman who could easily hand us a check for $20 million and never bat an eyelash. Our hopes, to say the least, were huge.
Rose was a widow and her husband had started one of the largest private companies n the US, employing tens of thousands of people. Their business was in recycling metal and a variety of related businesses. When Rose's husband died, control of the company passed to her. We’d never heard of them until Jaime had pulled up Rose’s information and succeeded in getting us in for a meeting.
We brought several copies of the prospectus with us to go over. In addition, our graphic design genius Ari had put together a few great posters that she’d mocked up despite being horribly sick. Since we didn’t yet have our leading man, the person in the poster was deliberately in shadow. However, we felt that having a visual aid would help this woman visualize what THE FIXER would eventually look like.
Jaime and I drove into the financial district of Boston for the meeting and arrived five minutes early. Upstairs in the non-descript, but elegant office, we were shown into a conference room. We immediately noticed that there were six chairs set out. We had anticipated pitching only to the woman in question. It turned out we had a larger audience.
The first person who breezed into the room was Bob and he introduced himself with a hearty handshake and smile. “I hope you don’t mind me sitting in on this. Rose asked me to look over your materials and I’ve got a few questions.”
Far be it for us to say no, right? Rose then entered the meeting and was gracious and warm in her greeting. Her first words to us were, “Well, you’re not what I expected.”
Apparently, when she heard that a couple of guys from Boston wanted to make a vampire show, the first image that popped into her head was that we would be dressed in Gothic fashion with tattoos and piercings. Instead, she got two suited business professionals. Score one for us.
Behind Rose came her two twenty-something sons, who, according to Bob, “Don’t get a chance to do something like this everyday, so we invited them to sit in on this, too.” The guys were both nice enough and only looked vaguely disinterested.
We all took our seats and Bob brought out a copy of our prospectus that Rose had provided him. All over this document was bright red ink and scrawled questions. Bob smiled. “I’ve been looking over your presentation and I’ve got just a few questions for you…”
For the next sixty minutes, Bob fired salvo after salvo at me. Jaime sat quietly by and it seemed that Bob was focused solely on me. Perhaps because they were my novels we were talking about turning into a TV series. But for sixty minutes there was no let up in his assault. This was a man who knew exactly what questions to ask of any business in order to make a judgment call about investing. It was impressive, to say the least.
Bob had questions on every conceivable aspect of our proposal. He went through the sales figures, budgets, casting, crew, book sales, and pretty much every possible thing he could. I answered his questions evenly and without pause. And for the most part, he seemed satisfied with the responses. Yes, obviously this was new territory. No, no one has tried this before. Yes, there is risk. But there’s also great reward.
And so it went. At the end o sixty minutes, Bob paused and said (thankfully), “Well, that’s all I’ve got.” He then looked around the table, first at Rose and then her sons. After Bob’s barrage, the other questions were a joy to field.
Bob’s role in Rose’s company was of Chief Executive, so it’s no wonder that he really took us through the wringer. We’d never expected an easy sale and $20 million is one hell of a lot of money. But Bob was also fair and I respected him immensely for his candor. Where he didn’t know about the industry, he readily admitted so. And our presentation became as much a tutorial on the entertainment industry as it did our addressing his concerns.
The biggest hurdle, it appeared, was the fact that they, like other wealthy Bostonians, simply didn’t make any money in the entertainment field. Convincing them that they could was our biggest challenge.
Finally, Rose stood and said, “Well, I’m really looking to do something different. And this certainly is different.” We took that as a great sign. I’d brought copies of my novels and handed them around from my dwindling supply. Rose took copies of each and told us she was going to read them and let us know what she thought.
We all shook hands and thanked them for having us come in and that was that. Outside, Jaime and I walked back to the car and sat there catching our breath. I had a pounding headache and felt like I’d just run a marathon. I’d been in pitch meetings before with film and TV types, but those were an absolute dream compared to what we’d just endured. Bob had never been rude or insulting, he’d just been persistent with his line of questioning.
Now we had to do the most uncomfortable thing of all: wait.
(Note: Enjoying reading about our experiences turning THE FIXER into reality? Want to get involved? We still have room for a few investors if you’re interested or know someone who might be. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org)