The Well-Meaning Introduction

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y wife’s boss offered to introduce me to a notable Hollywood producer. A retired notable Hollywood producer.

My wife’s boss offered this.

Sigh.

People who chase creative careers  – filmmakers, musicians, writers – know all about the well-meaning introduction.

Many creatives disappear into enclaves of artists similar to themselves. Keep to their own. Possibly, if for no other reason, to avoid situations like the well-meaning introduction. But those of us who maintain ties to the 9 to 5 muggle majority face it regularly.

The well-meaning introduction is when someone outside your discipline tells you there’s someone you should meet. Someone who also “does movies”.

Late teens, early twenties, you sort of say, sure. Cool. Maybe there’s something there. How can meeting new people ever be a bad thing, right? Usually the target of the introduction is no further along in their career than you. Even more likely, the kid’s interests couldn’t be further from your own.

The thing is, Mom, he’s a stop-motion animator who does television commercials and I want to make documentary feature films…

The older you get the more agonizing this becomes. Because the offers are indeed well-meaning. Not only are friends and family trying to help but year after year, you yourself get more desperate. More pathetic. It becomes more desirable yet increasingly foolish to politely refuse.

What do you mean you don’t think it would help? She’s does movies, just like you want to do! Maybe she can help you out?

Well, see, the thing of it is, she’s a makeup artist and I’m a writer…

It’s like meeting a homosexual and instantly wanting to set him up with your other gay friend. Because they must have so much in common!

The film industry is a strange beast. It encompasses so many complimentary disciplines that unto themselves have nothing to do with one another.

And even if the introduction seems like it might be a foot in the door. That the target of the introduction does seem like they’d be an asset. Like say, a producer to a writer trying to get his script read. The well-meaning introduction is never the appropriate venue.

Film people are wary of outsiders. They live and die by referrals and recommendations but only from other film people. Not from your uncle’s best friend’s next door neighbor.

In fact, an introduction from an outsider is even worse than a cold call or a query letter. Because at least a query letter falls within the acceptable parameters of the industry. It can be ignored with no hard feelings. The well-meaning introduction puts the target of the introduction into an awkward position. They can’t really say no. Have to remain polite to the third party outsider.  Presumably an acquaintance or relative. Presumably being solicited to make this introduction. Thus making the introducee a de facto nuisance even if they didn’t request the meeting to begin with.

Wow. Thanks. That’s a very nice offer but–

I’ll set it up, said my wife’s boss.

… Super.

What was I supposed to say to him? He’s my wife’s boss. He’s making an incredibly generous offer. A very well-meaning introduction. Even though, after dozens of these in my lifetime, I know exactly how this is going to go down:

Hey, Mr. Successful Producer. Nice to meet you. This is where I’m at in my career. Doing pretty well. Could always be doing better. I’m a fan of your films, by the way.

Yeah. Good to meet you. Best advice I can give you is just keep at it.

Yeah. Thanks. I was gonna do just that… So… Are you looking for any–

I’m not reading anything these days.

Right. Sorry. Didn’t think you were. Just figured I’d ask since I’m–

Yeah.

Yeah… Okay, then.

And that’s exactly how it did go down. And that will be that last we ever talk to each other ever, ever.

Just keep at it. That’s the lump sum of all meetings between individuals in respective creative disciplines brought together by well-meaning third party introductions.

But what can you do? They mean well.

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