Matilda Moviemaker rolls out of bed at ten in the morning. Unlike most of the film’s crew, her schedule is dictated mostly by meetings, and none of today’s meetings start until lunchtime. She takes a shower in her marble bathroom, puts on a pantsuit she had custom tailored in Rome last year, and hops into her Porsche. She drives to a posh Beverly Hills café for a late breakfast. She doesn’t care much for the food here, but the place is popular with the types of folks she needs to network with, so she comes here as often as she can. Plus it reminds her of a little cafe she used to go to in Seattle when she was growing up. She misses Seattle but would never move. If you want to be a Producer, you really need to live in Los Angeles.
Matilda’s in luck today. Tom Cruise’s agent is sitting at the table next to her and Matilda has a script that Tom would be perfect for (it’s like Mission Impossible meets Jerry Maguire, so who else?). She puts on her most charming smile and tries to remember the agent’s name. She’s feeling good today and the conversation flows smoothly. By the time she leaves, she’s already gotten a promise from the agent that he’ll read the script, which is the most Matilda can hope for at this stage. Well, that and an extra piece of bacon with her waffles.
Okay – we want to know what bozo ordered the “plain” one.
After breakfast, she drives to her office. Her lawyer is waiting for her with bad news: a producer she worked with on her last film is suing her. Matilda can only sigh. When you’re dealing with the type of money that it takes to fund a movie, lawsuits are rather common. Everyone feels that they’re entitled to a little more than what they actually made, and they will fight tooth and nail for every dime. Which is why so many Hollywood bigwigs are always getting expensive dental work and manicures.
She reviews the suit with her lawyer, who thinks the producer may settle out of court for a small amount of money and a bigger credit. Matilda tells her lawyer to set up a meeting with the guy the following week. She hopes they can resolve this quickly. She likes the guy who’s suing her and really wants to work on a zombie western with her. Some Producers hold grudges but not Matilda. There are too many grudges in Hollywood and her arms aren’t big enough to hold all of them and the mounds of cash she’s planning to make.
Even though she’s still full from breakfast (not to mention a little gassy), it’s time for a lunch meeting. This meeting is with an investment group from Sherman Oaks. They’ve funded a few kung-fu vampire movies that have done well overseas and Matilda really needs their help to get her next project off the ground. Of course, she doesn’t tell them that. That type of desperation will drive off any investor worth his salt. Instead, Matilda bends the truth (never lying, simply spinning things to sound better than they are). She makes it sound like this film is a tornado that the investment group needs to latch onto. They agree to review her business plan, budget, and marketing analysis for the film. Matilda knows all of these things are solid and therefore feels confident that the firm will get back to her with an offer. Just to make sure, she fakes interest in one of their projects and name drops a few actors she might get attached. Name dropping is probably her second best talent (after Porsche driving).
Time to make a pit stop. Seriously. Downed that Gatorade way too fast.
After her lunch meeting, she drives to Paramount, where she has a pitch meeting with another producer. Matilda has a science fiction property she’s developing that she thinks would be perfect for a big studio like Paramount. The producer listens to Matilda’s pitch and, while he likes the idea and likes Matilda’s work, he tells her that Paramount already has three science fiction films in pre-production and they aren’t looking to buy another one right now. As if you could ever have too many aliens.
From Paramount, Matilda puts the Porsche’s top down and drives to Orange County – to the set of a period romance she’s producing. The director has fallen two weeks behind schedule and Matilda feels like she needs to personally remind him that time is money. She discusses things with the director, who tells her that one of the reasons the shoot is falling behind is that the lead actor is difficult to work with. Not much of a revelation, but a problem nevertheless.
Matilda needs everyone to work well with one another to get this movie back on track. She cancels dinner plans with her husband and stays in Orange County. The rest of the afternoon is spent in meetings to discuss strategies to speed up production and cut costs. Matilda calls herself the “Hatchet Woman” for her skill at cost-cutting. Everyone else calls her that because of the bad horror movie she made in 1992 starring Jean Claude Van Damme.
Then she has dinner with both the director and the lead actor, working her charm to try and mend the rift between them. She’s perfected the ol’ “wink and a smile,” so she’s hoping that trick will work here. If not, she may have to use the ol’ “threaten to fire you,” which also works but isn’t as fun.
On the drive back to Los Angeles, she takes a call from an investor in Hungary who has just finished reviewing the plans for one of Matilda’s projects. He’s interested, but would like it to shoot in Hungary so it can create jobs in the community. Matilda agrees that the investor has an excellent idea. After she hangs up, she calls the writer and tells him he needs to tweak the script to be shot in Hungary. The writer argues with her that this “tweak” completely changes his vision for the project. Matilda doesn’t care about the writer’s vision. She cares about getting the movie made. Whether or not the U.S. National Gymnastics Championship would ever be held there.
She hangs up and calls another writer she’s worked with before. Since Matilda has already purchased the rights to the project, it’s hers to do with as she wants. Matilda offers this other writer a job rewriting it. Some writers call this “being a jerk,” but producers call this “producing.”
Matilda and the re-writer negotiate the terms of the deal. Matilda calls her lawyer, the writer calls his agent, and by the time Matilda gets home a signed copy of the contract is waiting in her email. She signs and returns it with a copy of the script. She even draws a smiley face on it – and several dollar signs. It can’t hurt.
She has enough time to talk to her husband about how his day went before grabbing a pile of scripts that her assistant brought her while she was out. As she drifts off to dreamland, she wonders which of these will buy her next Porsche. She’s been eyeing the Boxster...