A mere two months after winning our first ever Launch Pad Competition, Kate Trefry has found herself with hot-on-the-rise manager Lee Stobby (Caliber Media Co.), taking meetings around town, and being coined the next Diablo Cody. We had a chance to sit down with Kate and Lee over a few drinks to discuss Kate’s winning script “Pure O,” find out what she’s working on next, and talk about how the contest along with their new writer/manager relationship has changed both of their lives.
AN INTERVIEW WITH KATE TREFY & LEE STOBBY – PART 3
TB: So, you guys clearly have a great relationship. It’s not quite up to the hive mind the Coen Brothers share but I’d say you’re nearing the realm of finishing each other’s sentences.
KATE: (Laughs) I think it’s because Lee is a freak, like me.
LEE: (Laughs) Thanks. I think.
TB: I assume you mean freak as in weirdo, and not as in really kinky.
KATE: I mean, probably both, but I can only speak to the one officially. And it’s a good thing: he’s a freak that loves to talk to everyone all the time and I’m a freak that likes to hole up with my dog and write movies. It’s a good combination.
TB: Like a buddy cop movie.
KATE: Exactly! He’s like my fancy socialite alter ego. And I can really trust him like that, as an extension of myself. He knows me and my personality, but also has this business savvy that I don’t get at all.
LEE: I don’t think she’s as bad as she lets on.
KATE: (Laughs) No, I am. Someone can offer me 25 dollars to write something and I’m like, ‘Let’s go, I’m already writing it.’ I mean, why wouldn’t I? I love having 25 bucks, I love writing, seems like a good deal. That’s why it’s so important that I have Lee. Because I really don’t know–and I honestly really don’t want to know–what’s happening in terms of making deals.
LEE: It’s kind of like professional matchmaking. I try my best to associate her with people that I think will really respond to her as a person.
KATE: Like a pimp.
LEE: (Laughs) Definitely, total pimp.
KATE: It’s true though–I give him a lot of credit for the fact that I’m yet to have a bad meeting. Because I know it’s not like I’m just that super-lovable, it’s because Lee sets me up with people who like the same kinds of weird, difficult, fun stuff that I do.
LEE: Half of it is setting up a good meeting but it’s really the fact that you go in fully prepared that knocks it out of the park.
TB: How prepared are you? Ready for war or just ready to roll with the punches?
LEE: Both. You can’t just go into these meetings cold. There’s a process. You have to go into every meeting as though you want to start writing their project tomorrow. You have to have a good idea of what it would be, because if you don’t, they’re not even going to give 2 cents about it. They’ll be like, ‘We’re going to give it to the person that came in here with more than a shrug.”
TB: Solid advice for any writer. Sound’s like Lee is schooling you well.
KATE: That’s because he doesn’t have any other clients, right? (laughs) He couldn’t possibly have anyone else, I take up too much time.
LEE: (Laughs) None of my clients take up too much of my time. They all take up just the right amount.
TB: The perfect answer.
KATE: He calls me every day.
TB: Really? Every day? Maybe she is your only client.
LEE: (Laughs) I promise I do, I call her every day. I just never stop working.
KATE: I don’t totally buy that. I think there are still great dramatic movies being made, they’re just getting made a little differently now. And at the end of the day, good story is good story, regardless of what format you’re telling it in.
TB: Would you say that signing with Lee has impacted how you write?
KATE: Definitely. The biggest difference has just been learning to juggle multiple projects. Before when I had an idea I loved I could just…submerge with it. And I’d stay down in it for like six months until it’s done, then start something else. But now I have like four different pitches that I’m developing. Which is good, I guess. Crazy, but good.
TB: Can you tell us about some of those projects? Any gritty Care Bears re-imagining?
KATE: (Laughs) No, not really. I’m working on a pilot, a thriller and a biopic and just waiting to see what goes first so that I can go underground again.
TB: You seem really excited about the prospect of throwing yourself into just one project again.
KATE: I honestly can’t wait.
TB: Do you do anything to keep the juices flowing?
KATE: Yeah, I do, actually. If I feel like I’m starting to get burned out writing pitches and outlines, a lot of times I’ll work on a short story, or even just randomly write a scene for fun. You really can only write so many f*cking outlines until you’re like, ‘Second Act break, kill yourself. Fade to black, the end.’
TB: So it looks like you may be in the market for some more new clients, Lee.
KATE: (Laughs) I take it back!
TB: What do you look for in new talent?
LEE: Well if a writer sends me something of theirs and it sounds f*cked up and weird, outside the box, or it’s something I really haven’t seen before, that definitely piques my interest. That at least gives you ten pages. Those things at least get me intrigued enough to want to double click on the PDF essentially.
TB: And after clicking the PDF?
LEE: I mean regardless of how financially stable it is, I want to make great pieces of art, that’s what I want to do. I’m a proponent of, ‘Money will come from doing the things that you love.’ Everyone that I represent, they are doing things that make me happy when I’m feeling sad. That’s what keeps me going. I pull out Kate’s script and read it once a month at least.
LEE: Of course. I just love everything about it. I can’t wait until it gets made. I’m going to sit at that premiere and have the biggest smile on my face.
TB: (Laughs) Are you reading new stuff now?
LEE: I’m always reading stuff, I’m always looking at stuff, and I’m always watching everything. I’m always looking for someone that’s going to get me very excited and want to scream and go into the meeting and want to not stop talking. The other thing I’m going to say is that when I send scripts to executives, one of the things that I am fine with them sending back to me is, ‘Lee, we can’t make this movie, but it was great.’ I’m okay with that, because even though they may not want to buy or make that project, I am still being associated with great stuff.
TB: That’s always important for someone in your position.
LEE: So important. I have developed stuff with some of my clients that I’ve been sitting on for eight months because I’m like, “This is not good enough yet, dude. I’m not sending it out yet; it’s just not good enough.”
TB: One more month and that’s a pregnancy. Have you really been sitting on projects for that long?
LEE: Yeah, because it’s my reputation that’s on the line. Every single time I send a project out I’m falling on the sword for it. I just want it to be perfect because of my relationships with the executives, and because I want the f*cking best for my writers. I have intricate conversations with my clients making sure they realize that if we are asking someone to spend an hour or two of their time to read this that it has to be awesome. If someone comes back to me and they say, ‘Lee, this is a piece of sh*t, I can’t believe you sent this to me.’ I would cry. I can’t get that email, so if I think there is even a slight chance of that coming back, I’m not sending your script.
TB: Kate, you’re okay with that?
KATE: I trust him. I know I can send him something, and if it sucks I know he’s going to be like, ‘Listen b*tch, this is not great. Start over.’ But on the other hand I think the mark of a good manager is that I can also send him something sloppy and weird and awkward and he doesn’t see it for what it is, he sees what I want it to be and what he knows it can be. And that’s the best thing I could ask for, having someone who believes in me and has that long view. I feel really lucky, I really do.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 4 OF THIS 5-PART INTERVIEW WITH KATE & LEE, AS NEXT WE TACKLE: