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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I have to admit that sometimes I feel down when I'm around other screenwriters who have options and deals, when I haven't managed that yet.  Do you have a suggestion about how to deal with that?

Lance R. from Toronto

This week's Answer: 

Dealing with The Big Deal  

Yes, Lance, you have several ways to deal with those with options, and there are definite options to handle those who have deals.  What those are, however, I haven't a clue.  (Not really.)  Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't compare your insides with others' optioned and 'dealed' outsides"?  The thing to remember is there really is nothing or nobody to compare yourself to.  So what if somebody has a deal or an option?!  Big deal!  (Sorry.  Bad pun.)  You don't know him or her from Adam.  (Unless he is Adam and you always harbored inordinate envy towards this particular person named "Adam," and, now that Adam has a deal or a paltry option, you're even more incensed that he takes up space and air on the same planet that you inhabit.  And if she is Adam, then you probably don't have much to worry about, anyway -- if you know what I mean.)  If you do find yourself in such a position of envy and you can't seem to stop beating yourself up and/or comparing yourself with somebody who has had some fortune in his or her screenwriting career, don't panic because there are some excellent techniques that you can employ to neutralize the pain:  1) Under no circumstances, ever talk to that person again.  2) If that person who now has a deal or option speaks to you, immediately pretend that you just received a call on your cell-phone from a studio or your agent and act as if that person no longer exists and will not be a part of your posse.  3)  When you're alone, calm yourself and take yourself into a meditative state and gently imagine a beautiful aura around this person with the deal or option and see this aura bursting into flames that will consume the person's entire future as a screenwriter.  Then visualize this same person phoning you desperately for a favor and see yourself affirmatively hanging up.  Trust me:  you'll feel so much better.  
Actually, it's a nice milestone to reach when you option a script.  Deals can be quite lovely, also.  It can be a sign of a "start of a beautiful relationship," and, hopefully, the relationship is with a sincere producer who has his stuff together and knows how to produce a film and take a screenplay all the way to where it needs to go.  In my time, I've signed several options.  Option signing can bring on a nice sensation.  You can swagger a little as you walk into a room of other writers and casually let it be known that you "just signed an option."  It's the "option swagger."  You see it all the time.  And, then, of course, there's the "I just signed with an agent" jaunty stride.  Watch out for those types in restaurants.  They knock over plants.  And let us not dismiss the piece de resistance of steps:  the "three picture deal - watch out for my boots" strut.  When you see that coming, pull in your feet (and children) and get out before the ceiling comes down on you.  If you're still not sure of the kind of personnel Iím referring to, here's some more clues:  These recent signers usually have two to three cell-phones, make obnoxiously loud calls no matter who is around them, emphasizing words like "shoot, "studio," "exec," and "my agent" whenever possible.  They usually laugh louder than they need to.  They look like they are on coke most of the time (not the beverage) and they act like everything, including custodians, crossing guards, and octogenarians revolve around them, as the rest of the cosmos does and should.  Don't ever expect that these people will actually hear anything you say.  They're far too busy percolating their next script and pitch meeting.  They may, however, confuse you with a parking valet or waiter and possibly give you a very nice tip.  If that happens, simply say "thank you" and tell them how much you enjoyed their last picture.  Works every time.


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