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
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
"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...