The President of Our Company is Best Friends With The President of Lightstorm
If you have a property (that’s short for intellectual property, basically a story or characters that you created and therefore own) and you have a booth at Comic-Con, you are going to have a lot of movie producers and movie studio executives taking a look to see if your property would make a good movie. What you’re going to have even more of is people who are producer or studio executive wannabes and almostares taking a look to see if you’re gullible enough to sign with them for no money so they can turn around and try to sell it to the real producers and executives. This is how they graduate from wannabe to is-one-for-real.
One of these guys, while talking with me about my comic book, said, “You have to pitch this to people as X-Men meets Star Wars, those are huge franchises and you want people in the industry to realize the revenue potential.” This was a take on my comic book I’d heard many times and was not entirely sure I liked, I pictured people rolling their eyes at the comparison. Later on another guy, who stuck me as sharper and less full-of-it than most, told me “People are going to say it’s X-Men meets Star Wars. Don’t let anyone do that, it’s going to come off cheesy.”
Back to the first guy. At one point he said to me, “The President of our company is best friends with the President of Lightstorm Entertainment.” I was perfectly aware that Lightstorm is James Cameron’s film production company because Aliens is my favorite film of all time, so this got my attention. Then he said, “He told us, ‘If you ever need an 800 pound gorilla to get a project pushed through, just give me a call and we’ll get it done’.”
Now, I’m not a complete idiot, I knew this guy was full of crap – no one just makes a phone call and they’ve got a $100 million dollar budget for whatever movie they want to make. But I learned something about myself that day – when someone offers me my lifelong dream come true there is a pesky voice in the back of my head that says, “Okay, at the very least he’s exaggerating to a degree that you should take as an insult to your intelligence. And he’s probably an outright liar. But what if they do have a connection to Lightstorm? Even if all they can do is get it on Cameron’s desk, what if he takes a few minutes to look it over and likes it?”
This voice stopped me from telling the guy to wipe the boy-am-I-pulling-the-wool-over-this-schmuck’s-eyes grin off his face. Instead, I thanked him for his interest and exchanged business cards with him and said absolutely we should talk further. After he walked away that voice in my head told me, “The fact that he lied to your face is no big deal, everyone in Hollywood exaggerates their own importance. You’re not getting suckered, you’re just letting these jerks play their game because there really is a chance James Cameron could fall in love with your book and make it into a movie.”
Now back to the second guy. As I said, he was sharp. He was also for real – I later found out that he did in fact work at a big movie studio. He explained to me how a movie executive would assess my property and gave me both the positives and negatives of my book, an education for which I was thankful. The next time I was in Los Angeles I caught up with him and we joked around about how many schemers there are at Comic-Con. “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with those guys anymore,” he told me, “When I first go into this business I can’t tell you how many different guys handed me the old ‘the President of our company is best friends with the President of Lightstorm’ line.”