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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've been told by a big production company that they're very interested in my screenplay.  But it's been 4 months and I haven't heard a thing!  This is driving me crazy.  Do you have any advice, DcH?

Lyla T.  in New York


This week's Answer: 

How to Win The Waiting Game:  Don't

 
Lyla T. (You wouldn't be the famous Lyla Twarp choreographer in New York City, would you?  Or is that Tyla Larp? I'm sure you know who you are so we can move on.) I feel for you Lyla (not literally because you could be married or have a big bruiser of a boyfriend who, even though he dances in tights with you, may still pose a formidable and physical problem to me if he happens to be the jealous sort).  You have undertaken what I consider to be one of the deadliest games when it comes to a screenwriting career:  The Waiting Game.  (Is that a title of a film?  Somebody rush to Imdb.com and send me an e-mail to let me know.  I know it would only take me a second to do that, myself, but I've clicked enough today.  And, if I did, I wouldn't need to send myself an e-mail, after all).  The Waiting Game.  I'll "say" it one more time for dramatic emphasis:  The Waiting Game.  I say "deadly" because that's what it is.  Deadly.  (More repetition for dramatic impact.) 

DEADLY

Well, let's not get too carried away.  But it is just a tad irksome.  And gets in your way.  And sucks your energy.  And:

EATS YOU ALIVE!!!!!!!

Hey, is that already a film title?  Somebody click on Imdb.com (no, I'm not getting any thing for mentioning the company, IMDB.COM, even though I've done it twice.  Just check with your mouse.  See?  No hyperlink.  Oh, this one just takes you to ONE OF THE GREATEST WEBSITES YOU'LL EVER VISIT IN YOUR ENTIRE WEB EXISTENCE!!!!!!  

DcH's Greatest Moments 

Not really.  Don't click on the blue word or you'll be transported to:

"THIS WEB PAGE DOESN'T EXIST" HELL!!!

But I am thinking of buying the domain name.  

Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Eats you alive.  It does.  Waiting for a producer is very bad for the stomach lining.  Like an acid.   Actually, as the font suggests, it does resemble a horror storyline.  (I use the word, "storyline" instead of "story" so that I appear to be somebody who knows what he is talking about when he is talking about films.  "Plot" is sooooooooo cliché and five minutes ago (and "five minutes ago" is so ten minutes ago now).  If you want to appear like you know what you're talking about when it comes to films, you have to use words like "arc" (but be careful if you're referring to a biblical film because you could confuse us with "Noah's arc") and "twist" (but, here again, you want to be prudent if you are mentioning a bio-pic (and "bio-pic" is very "Hollywood Reporter" and "in" or "dope" now) about Chubby Checkers.  You can imagine the mix-up that could take place:

INT. DANCE HALL - NIGHT (who has a dance in the     day, moron?)

Never mind.  I'll just tell you.  While describing a moment and trying to appear like you are a Knower Of Films, it could get very bewildering:  "Chubby Checkers jumps up on the dance floor to the enjoyment of all the rowdy teenagers and starts doing the Twist, which is a great twist that surprises everybody."  Do you see the mayhem you could cause? 

So, back to the horror film, "The Deadly Waiting Game!"  You're just moving along in your screenwriting life, writing, submitting, talking to people in the business, flowing along, if you will, and what happens?  You receive notice that SOMEBODY WHO CALLS HIMSELF A PRODUCER IS INTERESTED IN ONE OF YOUR SCRIPTS.  Now, it's at this point that, if you're not very careful, you could fall into:

The Deadly Waiting Game!

Okay, we've got the picture.  Enough already with the:

font fanaticism!!! 

Once you move out of the proactive modality of doing, being, writing, submitting, talking, meeting, throwing yourself on the Screenwriter's Killing Floor and having tantrums, whatever you do to move ahead in your screenwriting career, and shift into the REactive modality of waiting, you've lost your power (not the kind that keeps your computer on so that you can send harsh e-mails to producers who tell you that your script is "the one" and then suddenly stop responding to you after sucking every creative idea they could eek out of you about your original screenplay.  No, not that kind of power); you've lost your strong and stable position; in a sense, you've lost yourself.  You've now become a waiter (no, not the kind that you have been or may be or may be again when you serve and suck up to producers at posh restaurants, hoping they will leave you a big tip or at least a card with an address where you can send your screenplay, which they can then ignore and cause you to think of quitting waiting and taking up stalking for a living.  No, not that kind of waiter.)  I mean, literally, a WAITer.  You're waiting.  You've put your screenwriter's self-esteem (SSE) in the hands of somebody else other than you.  And that's not a good idea.

"So what should I do if I don't wait?" say you.  Glad you asked.  Like the sages of antiquity have said time and time again (and I think John Lennon mentioned it, too), "The answer is in the question."  Your answer is in the question.  Your answer is:

don't wait

I know that's kind of heavy and you think you need thirty years of Zen training to comprehend it, but stay with me if you can.

 don't wait

Just don't.  In fact, take it a step farther:

forget about it

Now, I'm not saying this like some tough mobster from New Jersey on the "Sopranos." (Oh, they're actors?")   I mean it.  Really do your best to forget about it.  If something happens that's positive from a producer who has spoken highly of your work or even made a promise concerning one of your scripts, fine.  If not -- and here's the challenge -- let that be fine, also.  "Fine?!" you bray in my face.  "Fine!!!???" "But, but, but..." I know you were expecting something from that producer.  You've been waiting for that producer to make good on his word, to put his money where his mouth is (which, if you think about it, is a pretty unsanitary thing to do).  You're right; you have.  Exactly.  You've been waiting.  And how does that famous homily go...

"A watched producer never calls"

Or something to that effect.  So, even though it's easier said than done, stop playing that waiting game.  Start anew each day with a song in your heart and put on those dancing shoes and, like we did last summer,  let's twist again (the dance, not the storyline).

DcH

 

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