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Screenwriting : Disappointing, but far from defeated by Paul Zeidman

Paul Zeidman

Disappointing, but far from defeated

I pitched a script to a large production company and a major studio last week. Both passed.

While these definitely weren't the results I was hoping for, I know this is just one of the many potholes on the long and twisting road to success.

It didn't work out this time, and that's just the way it goes. My desire and drive have in no way been diminished. I'm just as determined to keep at it, both for writing and getting somebody to tell me "yes".

It's easy to get discouraged trying to make it in this business. But you have to be willing to endure each time things don't work out for you, and that'll happen a lot more than you realize. Hopefully you can learn from it so as to help increase your chances for next time. Maybe it'll even inspire a new approach. There's no one way to do this.

Giving up is easy. Keeping at it is tough. Frustrating as it can be, opt for the latter.

In the long run, you'll be glad you did.

Rosalind Winton

I agree. I have submitted my script to script services three times and each time I've received passes, but the feedback and notes have been so incredible and that is more important to me at this stage. The notes have enabled me to improve my writing skills and learn, learn, learn. I am hoping to get the first 10 pages read for the Screenwriter's Festival in London in April, just waiting to hear. I love submitting my script to various people and getting different perspectives on it, it's so interesting.

Ally Shina

After a lot of disappointment pitching... and I mean a lot because I am pitching several scripts at the same time, I finally got a yes last week for a project I have very high hopes for. I never gave up because most of my responses said "strong project, just not the right fit for the company" or something along those lines. I will keep pitching the two scripts that the execs say are strong projects until someone wants to make them.

I have also learned a lot from the comments I got from the execs who passed on my scripts. It is important to take their notes into consideration.

I wish you all the best of luck pitching your scripts, and I hope that one day your work is recognized and produced.

Happy writing.

Craig D Griffiths

A million times better than no one ever showing interest. You just have to find the right buyer.

T.L. Davis

And, even when you have a few of the right buyers, timing is still an issue. They might appreciate your ability and like your writing and you might be friendly, even, but they still need to be in a position with financing, schedule and distribution to pursue your script, unless it happens to be something that fits all those slots. If not, I just go back to writing something in the vein of what I know we both like.

T.L. Davis

Oh, and continue to cast a wide net.

Dan Guardino

Producers that make big studio type of films seem to all know each other so it helps if you can attach a director or even a well-known actor director to the screenplay you are trying to sell. That will sometimes help convince them they should at least read your screenplay. My agent told me I should try that it seemed to work pretty well. Anyway I wish you luck and if you never quit you can't fail.

Dan MaxXx

My 2cents: worry less about selling specs and worry more about job assignments, staff jobs. Many Screenwriters (not Writer-Directors) say all the time that specs are calling cards. The career is doing adaptations, assignments, staff jobs, rewrites.

Paul Zeidman

Dan - as much as I'd love to sell something, that's not my endgame. It's about being a working writer. I'd be fine with any of what you suggested. The tough part is finding somebody who's not only willing/open to reading my material, but then likes what they see and thinks I can handle something else.

John Iannucci

Agree with Dan, I recently had a couple of producers that passed on my query but passed it on to friends that were more suited for it. Got reads from those two - still waiting, but it never hurts. And i agree with Rosiland - coverage to me is not about getting any more passes - it’s about ideas. One thing I always do after a read is ask the person who read it if he can give me any feedback (positive and negative) Most are good guys and do. Sometimes as people have stated its just timing. I had two producers who turned down my query due to their current situations. I thought they were blowing me off until they kept in continuous touch with me, so I know there will be a better time to submit.

Matthew Mosley

Potholes are better than plotholes. Potholes slow you down, but plotholes stop you from moving ;-)

Dan Guardino

I agree with Dan M but you have to go through the selling process to make those connections that will lead to assignment. I landed a job as a staff writer and got a few assignments trying to sell specs. However since I own my own business working as a staff writer or for a production company wasn't worth it for me so I ended up quitting both those jobs.

Doug Nelson

I agree with both Dans pretty much and think John I have given you some sound incite. Over the decades, I've sold scripts that have gone on to production, most have disappeared in production hell, a few have been completely rewritten by someone else (I got paid) and I have done my time in a couple of writer's rooms. My advice to you Paul (and others) is to get your butt on a working set. however you can, and work the personal connections. 'works most ever'time.

Debbie Croysdale

Hey @Matthew that's one cool expression. "Potholes are better than plotholes. Potholes slow you down but plotholes stop you from moving." I am going to put this on an index card and stick it on my fridge. @Paul Kudos! This is our chosen lifestyle albeit the wage packets come in peaks and troughs. Never get disappointed cos the real pain would be if we could not do this at all. I agree with @Doug Personal connections count. If you cannot get on set, get to screenwriting festivals and attend their full duration, make contacts and hand out cards. People remember personal meetings in real time, sometimes more than on line meetings. Also there are free pitch places aswell as paid pitches. Get your projects out on Script Revolution run by our CJ here.

Shara Maude

Rejection is part of the game. We talk about this quite a bit in publishing. And often J.K. Rowling was used as an example of getting thousands of rejections before finally landing a publisher. Just keep in keepin' on. Rejection is always disappointing, but sometimes it's just a matter of being the right writer at the tight time in the right place.

John Iannucci

One reason I don't use Virtual script or the lot is rejections are form letters - you can't get any feedback. In most request I'll follow up and ask (politely) for positives and negatives. There are a lot of assholes out there but also a lot of good people. It's constructive that way - sometimes its just - it really didn't fit into what we're looking for.

Michael L. Burris

Timing, luck, good endeavor,.

Learn, keep, take, do again.

Fall into.

Mike Taime

Sorry to hear, just curious if they offered any feedback when they passed on it.

Stevan Šerban

Write a short script. Try to find friends to produce it. Or just shoot it with your smartphone and send it to contests! Do not give up!

Paul Zeidman

Mike - not really. Pretty much "sounds interesting. just not for use right now." Par for the course.

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