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I've written so many screenplays and get so down because nothing
has happened. This is so frustrating!
from many cities
This week's Answer:
There's No Business
Like Screenwriting Business
Margaret, I sympathize. It can be very unsettling when nothing
is happening. Especially when you want some
happening. Or any
That's a good one, too. Anything but nothing.
"Nothing" is so... so... not happening.
And not happening is definitely not... a happening kind of
happening. So, basically, you're telling me that you
want "happening." Good. Now that
that's clear, let's see what's happening...
you mention "not happening," I'm going to presume you mean
that there has been little to no activity regarding your success
selling a screenplay. Assuming that my presuming is correct,
let's look into this, shall we? We'll reason together.
(Trust me: it'll be happening, man. Or "woman.")
way of looking at this situation is that you could be happy that
something that you don't
want to happen is happening or
happened. Something such as being happy that you didn't get a
call from a producer who says that you plagiarized every word in your
script because he received one exactly like it from an Aborigine (whom
the agent immediately signed), who was cast away on a deserted island
and had nothing to do but write (because all he had with him was a
laptop -- which, thankfully -- or not in your case -- came with
Aborigine / English translator software), and the Aborigine found out
that you stole his material and he has vowed to find you and hunt you
down with only a spear, the dirty screenplay-stealing hyena that you
are. (Apparently, the Aborigines have an age-old custom that has
something to do with them getting very riled when someone outside
their village steals verbatim someone in
screenplay. Something about cooking in oil, roasting over a fire
pit, red ants, things like that. I'm not clear on the
details. But I think they
are.) Now, that
presume, would be a happening that you wouldn't necessarily want to
happen and would rather have nothing happen at all than have that
happen. (I know: this is so deep that it appears overly
simplistic and sophomoric. A-hah! That's why it's so
deep! See?! Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Deep.)
let's assume that the script is really yours and you didn't
steal the Aborigine's screenplay and you didn't get that call from the
producer. (There. Don't you feel better already?)
But you still want something to happen with your screenplays.
Could it be, Margaret (and other screenwriters who relate to this)
that you've gotten caught up in the "waiting game"?
It's easy to do. You've written, you've contacted, and now...
you wait. Seems simple. Seems like the right thing to
do. It's not. The right thing to do is the
"write" thing to do. Which is to write. Write
your congressman; write notes to your landlord or your milkman (do
they still exist?). Whatever you do, just write! Not
really. Actually, yes, do write. But write what you
LOVE. And if it's screenplays, write those. Or
"them" (depending on how physically close-- not emotionally
-- you are to the actual scripts when you're reading this. Or
even if you are
writing, there's the second, sometimes dreaded
aspect of the business of being a screenwriter: the business
part. (I gave it away, didn't I? I telegraphed
it. And I call myself a "screenwriter.") Ah...
the business of the business. Can't we just sit in our little
ivory towers and write to our hearts' content (or "synopsis"
or "premise" or "storyline"), not needing to heed
anything beyond our perspective (or POV)? -- which can be very nice,
being that towers have a tendency to be built close to gardens and
generally verdant and pastoral vistas (locations. EXT.)?
If you want to actually SELL a screenplay and not just write a bunch
of them in order to stack them near the door so people who visit will
say, "Wow, that's a lot of screenplays! Where'd they come
from?" And you can say, "I wrote them."
"All of them?" "Yes, each and everyone of
them." "Wow. That's amazing."
"Thank you," you say proudly. "You really don't
have a life, do you?" And there you go. (Wait.
That didn't turn out the way you wanted, did it?), then I guess you're
actually going to have to take those kind of actions that will bring
that very aim about. I think the problem has to do with the fact
that we screenwriters have a tendency to start off in that general
direction, but then, somehow, forget to continue along that road and
then pull over at the "Waiting Game Rest Stop." (and you get
so comfortable there that you find yourself thinking of buying an RV
-- God help you.) You do need to keep that second part of the
business in mind if you want to profit from the first part of the
. And that part of the
business is you continually letting others know about what you have to
offer and what you can
offer. And, just as importantly,
NOT WAITIN' FOR NOBODY NO HOW. (Excuse my overly sophisticated
speech. I have a tendency to show off my Harvard education from
time to time.)
So how do you
find a way to stay in the business of the second part of the business
of the screenwriting business? (I told you this was deep.)
I've found that the easiest way (and no reason to sneeze at
"easiest") is to let the imaginative, creative facet of you
come up with the way! Try not to think of your
"networking" (never liked that word. It always makes
me think of fast-talking, looking-through-and-not-at people, slick,
power-suited, aggressive wannabes. Wait. That's my agent.)
as something to avoid at all costs. Rather, think of something
that could be a vehicle for a tremendous boost in your earning
potential or actual financial situation (five or six figures of a
change couldn't hurt) of being the way to bring about a major change
with all those scripts near your door--such as selling
one! Let that idea, that vision, truly inspire you, and, as with
a burgeoning story in your mind, let your creative self come up with a
plan, a way to inform others of your existence and what you have to
offer. In other words, as with your writing, PLAY with this part
of the business (although I know we don't always feel like we're
frolicking while looking for the next moment to write about in our
scripts). If you try this approach, you may very well find
(still my tongue) that you (don't send hate e-mail) actually
enjoy the process. I mean, just think of all the new people and
new secretaries (who don't want to meet new people) you'll meet.
Think of all the space you'll save in your digital answering machine
where producers haven't called you back. Truly, many of us
writers for the screen (notice that I didn't say,
"screenwriters" this time in order to avoid overusing the
word "screenwriting") are reluctant to play in this
particular sandbox. And we need to. We need to make this
sandbox our own. Fellow reluctant sandbox users unite and fight
the good fight! (SFX: TRUMPETS BLARE)
who knows? Maybe you'll meet a producer at the playground or
park and something will really happen.