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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: 

It’s so hard to wait for a response from a producer, DcH.  Do you have any tips?

Jake H. from Hanover

This week's Answer: 

That Was It!

Hi, Jake.  Your name and home could sound like a limerick like this:

There was a Jake H. from Hanover
Who, waiting for a producer''s call, he got hung over
Not over a cliff, but a heavy rum fifth

The producer finally came driving and Jake got himself run over

I hope you don’t mind that in the limerick your namesake didn’t fare so well (or should we say, “fair thee well”?)There’s some kind of obtuse point I’m making here, using this limerick (and I’ll let you know what it is as soon as I do).  Actually, in a sense, is that what you’re doing?  Getting yourself all “drunk” on the high of thinking that...


You just know your ship is coming in and you’re going to wait on that dock as long as it takes (maybe, instead, you should just do as that song says and be “sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away.”  Tides are easier to watch than straining your eyes for ships on the horizon.  You’re already thinking of what you’re going to do with that six-figure paycheck.  If only that producer would call.  Tick, Tick, Tick... Or if only that producer would send that e-mail that holds the green light to your life.  You’ve already been considering how you’re turning down the first offer in order to jack up your fee.  Now you’re in your own screenplay.  You’re the protagonist who is going through the “first refusal” stage.  (Hint:  the antagonist is none other than you.)  (And here's a hint for you all:  The walrus was Paul.)

The trouble is that all that “high” must become low.  It’s some kind of quantum physics law or something.  A simpler way to put it is (and “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” said it so well) “What comes up must come down.”  (And I think Galileo agreed with Blood, Sweat, and Tears).  Sorry, but that’s how it is.  “Well, DcH,” you say.  “Couldn’t the high just always get higher?”  Sure it could.  And after your head exploded, who would be there to accept that paycheck for all that screenwriting effort?  We need that balance.  That’s why those lows are necessary:  to teach us balance.   The trick is to not get caught up in our fantasies that sweep us up into these highs.  Yes, of course, imagine and work toward the results you want, but don’t let expectations (that dreaded word) fog your view (or “view your fog” as the case may be – or “may be the case”)  We won’t need the lows if we don’t allow the highs.  Yes, it is exciting to be considered by the “big boys,” but, even though you may think they are, they are not your higher power.  As soon as you give over your power, your confidence, your creativity, your balance, to somebody else... you’ve already lost.  I don’t care if a producer does buy your script with a fat paycheck.  If you don’t find your center, you’ll be just as crazed by the next project, wondering if you can do it again.  Then you’ll give your power to the next prospective producer who you wait on to tell you that you’re good enough a second time, and on and on it goes ad infinitum. 

But there’s a solution.  Stay with yourself (unless you’re staying with somebody else.  In that case, you’ll have to ask them to leave.)  Really.  Stay with yourself.  And keep creating, keep writing.  You have no say in who will buy and or produce your material.  You can’t control results.  So why even worry about it?  Put that energy, that precious creative energy where it belongs.  With you.  With your writing.  I hope this has helped.  If you feel that it has, please send me an e-mail to tell me so.

I’ll be watching my mail.



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