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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 (often with a humorous eye) 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: 

Dch, I’m so *&*^%^&$-tired of getting so many passes from producers. 

J.J.


This week's answer: 

Pass the Script, Please

J.J., I suggest that you stop playing football in the PFT (Producers Football League).  Oh, you mean THOSE kind of passes.  The kind that we screenwriters truly don’t look forward to.  Did you ever wonder why they, the producers (not the ones in the PFT), say, “I’m going to pass on your script”?  Are they playing cards?  Why don’t they just say, “I’m not going to produce your script”?  That’s what they’re saying, aren’t they?  Or they could say, “I don’t like your script.”  If we could really hear the truth, they would usually be saying, “I’m not producing your script, which I barely read.”

I know it can be very, very disheartening to keep receiving passes.  (Although, remember when we used to want passes, passes at school to get out of class and walk through the halls when all the other kids had to be in the classrooms.  What freedom.  Or how about when a “pass” for a grade let you know that you hadn’t failed a subject?  Or how about when we got free passes to movies or amusement parks.  Those were the good ol’ days of passes.  But, now that we’re screenwriters, we don’t want know stinkin’ passes, Mon.  But you find that getting passes is part of the game.  The trouble is, if you let them get to you, you can start doubting your screenwriting skills, can start believing that you’ll always get a pass.  Taking passes from producers personally (hey, that’s some nice alliteration, if I do say so myself), can even lead screenwriters to give up entirely and stop writing.  And a screenwriter who doesn’t write... Well, then what is he then?  Just a screen.  And nobody wants to just be a screen.  Before you know it, Uncle John will be showing slides of his family’s European vacation or Alaskan cruise on you.  Just remember:  Some of the best and well-known (and well-paid) screenwriters also got a whole bunch of passes before somebody bought their first or next script (or the one after that).  How’s that saying go?

Don’t leave before the script sale happens.

Well, something like that.  Think of your next pass as an indication that you’re getting closer to selling a script.  It’s like Thomas Edison.  (No, he didn’t sell a screenplay.  I think.)  He said that every failed experiment to invent the light bulb was one more way to help him know what not to do to succeed in inventing it.  Every pass you receive (not the ones on the football field) can be viewed in a similar manner.  Every pass can be one more way to show you what not to do to write and sell a screenplay.  Isn’t that just wonderful!  You could actually look forward to getting passes from producers!  Now, you may not be completely aligned with this idea, especially if you recently got another rejection letter – I mean “pass” -- from a producer, so much so that you’d like to give me a piece of your mind and call or write me (or come to my house) to inform me of your opposing views on the subject.  And if that be the case...

I’m going to have to pass.

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