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I am writing this from the crowded “lobby” area at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, where the Spotlight on Documentaries forum is going hot and heavy. The noise in this room is beyond description. It is such an overwhelming cacophony that try as I might, I can’t eavesdrop at all. This is disappointing, because eavesdropping is one of my most favorite pursuits and would surely have given me great material for you, dear readers. Alas.

As promised, now I will share some key lessons from the original self help masterpiece, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I admit that allowing people in this Sophisticated Documentary Crowd to see me carrying around this book is pretty embarrassing. I like to imagine they can tell I’m going for a jokey, cavalier attitude. But it is likely that everyone checking me out right now thinks I’m a total tool.

On the book jacket (my edition’s cover screams, “FULLY UPDATED FOR THE 80s!”), Dale Carnegie promises that, “I Can Take Any Situation I Am In – And Make It Work For ME!” Carnegie also admonishes me to remember, “There IS Room At the Top, When You Know… HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE!” Yes, people, yes! I can feel it already!

So anyway, here are my Top Ten Hot Tips for Filmmakers in Pitch Type Environments, Adapted From Classic Advice From Good Old Grandaddy Dale:

1) Don’t criticize, condemn or complain (about anything).
2) Give honest and sincere appreciation. Every human person has a deep need to feel important and valued, but most of them can also tell if you are insincerely flattering them.
3) Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4) Get the other person saying, “Yes, yes,” and nodding as soon as possible. If they aren’t nodding and smiling, change it up until they do.
5) Appeal to the nobler motives.
6) Try honestly to understand the other person’s opinions, needs and ideals.
7) Never argue. The only way to win an argument is to avoid it.
8) Let the other person feel your idea is his or hers.
9) Remember that the sweetest sound the other person can hear is the sound of their own name. Use it!
10) When all else fails, throw down the gauntlet and issue a compelling challenge or dare.

Laugh away, Film Sophisticates, but the few times I strayed from these principles today, I immediately felt my meeting start to go astray.

And how about them meetings, folks?! Sixteen first dates so far, and I doubt they could have gone much better. I mean, I’m not a robot; I indeed goofed up a few times, primarily by violating Principles 3, 5 & 6 (see above). But a mere human I did pretty good, thanks to Amber and to Grandaddy Dale.

You know, Brian and I only applied to Film Week because our Executive Producers strongly suggested it. Thankfully, we listened to them. This is undoubtably the best thing we could have done for our film and has become the wind in our sails. Next time, I will try to explain why, and also tell you about some of the people we’ve met.

On a final note, as if the Man Up Above wanted to make sure our egos weren’t going to get too puffed up due to the mutual admiration society that is Film Week, this morning Brian and I awoke to a grant rejection! Yay: instant modesty!

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