Filmmaking / Directing : Thanks, But No Thanks by Dylan Kress

Dylan Kress

Thanks, But No Thanks

Hey guys! Just curious to find out if there's a standard approach to passing on a script (especially if you were the one who reached out to the writer in the first place). It's got to be one of the most common things in the industry but is there a right way to do it? Do you give them a reason why? Do you just say no thanks. Do you even need to say anything at all? Just curious to find out what some of you have come up with?

Giselle Marie

It's a difficult thing. I've done it and I have felt like crap because I was the one who asked for the script. I felt obligated to tell them something. Something like, "I enjoyed your work but I need this story to go in a specific direction. " "I commissioned several writers and I have already picked the best script for this project in particular". Rejection is rejection...no matter how nice you are, it's gonna hurt a bit.

Shaun O'Banion

First, yes, you should respond. For a writer who has sent material out (particularly on request), it's a bit like being an actor on an audition. You go in, do the audition and, if it went well, you get a callback. If not, you never hear anything... but writers, unlike actors, expect (and, in my opinion), deserve to hear back one way or another. How you respond depends on several factors - do you think the writer is talented but just didn't have a strong reaction to this particular script? Or is the script, in your opinion, just... not good and neither is the writer. Ultimately, you can use the standard "unfortunately, this doesn't fit in with our current slate," or, if you feel like it, go into more detail. Bottom line is: There's no way to let someone down or crush their dreams. Offer a bit of feedback and keep it simple.

CJ Walley

Dylan, it's a tricky one. Personally I only like to hear back if someone is interested in taking things further.

Andrew Bruce Lockhart

If you have specifically asked someone to write something. I’d say it would have been up to you monitor how they have got on before it got the point your need to say no. However – as Giselle says rejection is rejection and rejection sucks. If it was me (the writer) I’d be annoyed with myself (and therefore with everyone else I could possibly blame!) and it follows - also the person turning me down! So putting myself in your shoes - I’d bite the bullet and perhaps call them – talk them through your reasons, and let them rant a bit (or not if they are professional) – and then move on (if what they have written is totally beyond saving). Sometimes you have to tell the truth – but like that old definition of diplomacy, you could tell them so nicely, they enjoy the trip.

Dylan Kress

I think there may have been a bit of confusion about my question. I haven't asked someone to write something and then not like what they've written. My question was about finding a writer who already had scripts written and I've simply asked to read what has already been written. Nobody has specifically done work for me in this situation. Sorry for the confusion. Perhaps I could have worded my question better. Thanks for all the good advice guys! Cheers, Dylan

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, the usual way people handle "passing" on a script that they themselves requested to read is silence -- no response. However, a quick thank you with maybe something nice about the script and a short reason why it just didn't work would be kind. The person did share their work, right? Show a little respect. Be courteous. Be better than the norm. Who knows, that writer may have something much much better in the future. Why burn bridges? :)

Andrew Bruce Lockhart

Agree with what Beth said - be all the things you wish someone would be to you when you get turned down for something... is how i look at it. If i cast for a model for a photo shoot that's how I try and deal with those who i dont use.. i also always ask them if I could keep their details to hand in case something comes up they might be a good fit for.. it's good to keep people on your side- you never know when you might need them

Shaun O'Banion

Alle - based on Dylan's post, I'd guess that he requested to read a script from the writer, not offered an OWA, hired the writer and then decided to pass. That'd be a little odd, no? After all, if he (Dylan) owned the underlying material, he would be free to (after fulfilling the terms of whatever contract was negotiated) bring on another writer and the question would be unnecessary. A simple, "I feel like we've gone as far as we can. Thank you for your work" would suffice... Right? Right. But, you know, thanks for trying to tell me how things work... By the way? How many of your feature films have been released? Would love to watch one. Are they on Netflix? Showtime?

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