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09/03/2001
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"From An Audience Of Brass Fasteners To ?Must-Meet status' for the Big Brass." Part 3

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday September 3rd, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com

I have to say those brass fasteners (who've gathered around my keyboard like an audience) are really great guys! We have had some fun times now, together. They are great at parties. Extremely social and intelligent. And what an icebreaker they are!

Howard Klausner, the co-writer of Space Cowboys (with Ken Kaufman) takes audiences with the big brass of Hollywood. If you've been checking in with the recent columns here lately, you know all about his first sale - which sold in a week. You might be wondering at this point how Klausner's life changed after such a quick and successful first sale.

"It clearly changed dramatically, financially (it was a fairly high dollar sale)," Explains Klausner. Up until that point Howard had never made more than two or three thousand a year from his writing. He joyfully remembers how this sale allowed him to get out of some "pretty serious debt."

"After (the sale) we got hired to write another project really quickly. That's the most significant change: overnight, you go from, ?who's that guy' to, ?well okay...he's in the loop here.' Sadly, that really is the way this business works. If you're going to get hired in this business - you need to get known," explains Klausner. "Really the only true way to get known is to either absolutely dazzle people with your submissions or you've got to sell something," he continues.

Now Klausner was taking meetings and had a new agent. "It was almost like graduating form one thing into another," Klausner explains. "Into another brand new learning experience for me and suddenly, I was a working writer." He also adds, "It was a dramatic change for me (because) I was a true starving artist, up until that point."

The ?meetings,' as they are officially referred to in Hollywood, are an essential part of the writer's life. People who can hire you need to get to know you first, as well as what you are working on. For Klausner, at this point, people already knew him by his work before the ?meeting.' "When a project goes out as a submission, that hopefully bidding will happen on, everyone in town has read it," Klausner recalls. As a result of this, each meeting Klausner took began with praise for the "Space Cowboys" script. "I had the very enjoyable experience (when meeting) a couple people who had not only turned me down in the past, but had outright insulted me in the process," he remembers with a laugh. "It took every ounce of graciousness I've ever learned to just keep a straight face through the whole thing."

"The real difference is it's palpable. You're taken seriously over night. It's just one sale - that's all it takes," tells Klausner. The contrast to all this is how Howard felt on these meetings before his first sale. "I always felt like a complete imposter when I went into these meetings. When are these people going to figure out that I've never sold anything and never will sell anything? I think that's the biggest paranoia that all of us as writers have : What qualifications do I really have for this? You go into these things like you're tiny in a land of giants."

Klausner sums it all up in one word: "perception." How is the writer perceived and how does the writer perceive oneself?

Next week, we continue with Klausner's thoughts on the writer's life. Stay tuned....

c.2001pdb

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