A Resolution Worth Keeping

Journal Entry - Winnipeg.
December 31st, 2007.

I've spent hundreds of hours in story meetings. Some fun. Some funny. Some roiling with enthusiasm. Others -- flat and yawny, where people hide behind newspapers trying their best to avoid eye contact with the boss .

I've also sat through a few where grown adults have left the room in tears.

However, I can honestly say that very few have been a waste of time. The editorial process works. All our ideas become sharper and more well focused once they've been savaged by a wolf pack of colleagues who in their dark little hearts do NOT wish us well.

It's tough to find this degree of clarity as an indie producer. Why ? Because we either work for ourselves or we work for someone who pays us. Neither situation breeds intellectual honesty which might explain why so many bad pitches get sent to networks.

Over the past few months I've tried to remedy this situation by holding occasional conference calls with a group of former colleagues all of whom now run their own shops. We gossip, we network, and we kick the shit out of each other's ideas.

There are no steroids involved.

So, if I'm going to keep one New Year's Resolution it will be to maintain the discipline of the story meeting no matter what form it takes. My other resolution - to stop spending so much money at Starbucks will be dead by noon.

Our little group has three rules -:

1. Yee shall pull no punches. (The criticism must be honest and rigorous.)

2. Yee shall not get pissed off. (Never take what's said personally.)

3. Yee shall not blab. (Keep what you hear to yourself.)

For the sake of this post I'm going to break Rule # 3.

I've been trying to get a project going on cricket. Yea..yea...yea - they say. Who in Canada is going to trigger this ? CBC ? TSN ? Not a chance. Pass.

I've also been trying to get my beloved Lenny Breau doc off the ground. But the meeting says - who's Lenny Breau ? (assholes) Why should we care ? Didn't TVO already do it ? Pass.

And then there's my "old age" show. "Good idea" But what's the last act ? And the ending's a real downer. Bottom line ? A tough sell.

Story meetings can be invigorating or depressing. Either way they're an essential tool no matter WHO you work for as we can all benefit from honest, non-strategic, professional feedback.

So, as the New Year begins and I struggle with the on-going task of moving my GREAT IDEAS forward -- this year's resolution is NOT to do it alone.

I'm going to pitch my buddies hard. Listen carefully. And try not to whine when I hear what just might be wise advice.


Maureen said...

Can I join in on your story meetings?

Balbulican said...

Lenny Breau is God, and what an amazing story. SOMEONE out there has got to be willing to fund it. Have you approached Randy Bachman? He seems to be committing quite a bit of energy to resurrecting Lenny's back catalogue.

Of course, if you promise to announce the TRUE story of his death, you can probably interest Geraldo.