Your questions answered by a  Hollywood professional

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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 just found out that a really big deal may have fallen through and I am so upset about that.  Has that ever happened to you, and how did you and do you deal with those big letdowns?

Linda from England

This week's Answer: 

Rejecting Rejection

Oh, yes, Linda, I have gone through several letdowns concerning my career as a screenwriter and a script consultant.  It's tough on the insides when what you believed what was happening or was going to happen didn't happen.  I had a screenplay that was set for production, director chosen, stars starting to be attached, and then... The Letter !!.... Love those letters.  I call them, "Letters of Detachment."  They go something like this (and I'm paraphrasing):  

Dear Great and All Powerful Talented Writer,

Although we love your project and were looking forward to giving you enormous chunks of money for it (and we were acting very friendly and as though nothing could ever change our minds about choosing you as our next project -- although we never seemed to get to the contract stage) and we had many meetings where we sucked as many ideas out of you as we could, we now regretfully must inform you that we've decided not to go with your project or have anything more to do with you until we both die.

Good luck with your future projects.


Backstabbing and life-sucking producers

You can tell if the producers really liked you if they send something like the above through the regular mail.  Faxes and e-mails reveal that they regarded you even less than you thought they did.  A thirty second cell-phone call is not as easy to read.  They're more like this:  

"Hey, ____, how are you?  Good to hear.  (This comes before you have a chance to reply).  I'm driving through the canyon so I may loose you.   Listen, something's come up that's going to tweak our plans a bit about shooting "The World Ends Again."  Love that title.  Which, by the way we changed.  Bottom line, we need to go in a different direction.  ("Which direction?  I'll go in any direction you want.")  Love that about you.  Always have.  Let's do lunch soon."  (The connection is suddenly lost).

Those are always nice.  At least they called.  I guess.  Although, I'm not saying, after one like that, you're at the top of the world.  But it's nice that somebody who is about to meet somebody much more important than you would take the time to call and let you know that your life as you thought it was going to be is not going to be that way at all.  At least now you know.

How do I handle these kinds of disappointments, you ask, Linda?  I'm glad you asked.  We all know about not building up our expectations and the consequences of such actions, so I needn't harangue you with that diatribe.  I prefer a much more deliberate and aggressive approach to the healing process.  For wounded we are and we must admit that in order for that very process to take place.  Rejection hurts and any soft-speaking, expo-teaching Hollywood guru who says any different is talking out of the wrong side of his... well, you get the picture.  Counteraction in some form or another is necessary to reset the thermostat, so to speak, to balance those scales within you.  You do need to confront, acknowledge the rejection and take some kind of action to equilibrate yourself.  To return to the balanced and "unneurotic" screenwriter that you really are.  The script writer who takes things in her stride and doesn't let others tell her who she is.  One who doesn't depend on others' opinions of his work in order to not to spiral down into a dank and dark depression from which you may never return.  We're talking about your ESS (Essential Screenwriter Self).  I don't mean to wax too dramatic here, but, if you're not in touch with your ESS... you're doomed.  (I hope that wasn't too harsh).  You'll die a thousand fiery deaths if you can't regain your ESS.  You'll fall into a pit of... (Sorry.  Let's continue...)

I do have a few pervasive actions that you can take when confronted with rejection that could help you regain your ESS.  And if you don't, your life will be one black hole of empty nothingness that--  (Sorry again.  Where was I?  Oh, yes...)

My suggestions for possible actions after rejection:

1.)  Pin up your rejection letters together on a wall.  You may have heard about that idea already, but mine goes a little farther.  The wall you pin your rejection letters on should be one in a trailer, which you then proceed to drive through the front gate of the producer at an accelerated speed, onto his property and through another gate and into his swimming pool.  Make sure that you can swim and know how to run in water.

2.) After capturing the producer's cell phone number after the rejection call, call that number every twenty minutes all day and all night long, thereby racking up enormous phone bills for the producer.  If you're feeling strong, when the producer answers, simply say, "Bottom line... your last picture sucked" or, if you're feeling even more playful, "I'M COMING FOR YOU," is always effective.

Bottom line (sorry)... don't take any of this that seriously.  The most important thing is that you don't let somebody's words about you or your work dictate who you are.  You've got to stay poised regardless of others' opinions of you and your screenplays.  That's the only way you're going to be able to survive in this business. You're you and that's what counts.  At least that's what my therapist keeps telling me.  And charges me and arm and a leg for me to hear that over and over again.  I'm me and that's what counts.  What counts?!  And whose the one who is counting?  Him?!  He's counting his money, that's who is counting!  And, come to think of it, why am I always the one who has to lie down?!  And what are those notes he's taking about me all the time...



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