DON'T TAKE “NO!” FOR AN ANSWER—AND NEVER GIVE UP!



"DON'T TAKE 'NO!' FOR AN ANSWER—AND NEVER GIVE UP!"

1). I once had a horror script that I gave to a “respected” screenplay analysis. He was looking for scripts to produce. He read my script and got back to me a couple weeks later: “Sorry, I just don’t care for it.” In the next few years I optioned that script to two prodcos who DID care for it.

2). My manager got me a meeting with a director who was looking for scripts. I met with the guy and pitched him three of my screenplays: two horror scripts, one thriller. He didn’t care for the two horror ideas at all, but he thought the thriller idea was pretty cool. He asked to read the thriller. He got back to us a week later: “Thanks, but no thanks.” A couple months later I optioned that same thriller script to a prodco that loved it. This prodco even renewed the option after one year. And oh, of the two horror scripts he didn’t like—I optioned BOTH over the next few years.

3). I gave my book manuscript to a woman who had had much experience in the world of fiction. She was an older woman and I didn’t know if she’d be able to connect to my story, but I figured I’d give it a shot. A few weeks later she got back to me. She explained how she couldn’t read past the first few chapters and proceed to tell me all that was wrong with those chapters. She also told me it would be best if I didn’t publish the book. I thanked her for the advice but ignored her, publishing the book anyway. Well, that book (Luigi's Chinese Delicatessen, which I self-published) has been out since early April. So many people have gotten in touch and raved about how much they’ve enjoyed it. Lots of great Amazon and Goodreads reviews too!

4). I had a horror script that a producer had under option for two years. He got awfully close to getting the project off the ground a number of times but ultimately it just didn’t happen. I optioned that same script to two more companies over the next four years.

5). Back in 2005 I wanted to put together a book of interviews with working screenwriters. Not necessarily big name scribes, just writers who make a living as screenwriters. I queried a few publishers. “Interview books don’t sell.” “Sorry, not for us.” “No thanks…but we wish you luck.” Well, I still wanted to write this book. So I did. I found 16 working screenwriters pretty quickly and interviewed each of them. I even got David (The Screenwriter’s Bible) Trottier to write the foreword. I self-published Q & A: The Working Screenwriter in 2006 (first as a paperback, then a few years later as an e-book). Lemme tell ya, that book hasn’t done too badly over the years. It even got me an invite as a guest speaker with the folks at the Scriptwriter’s Network. (FYI: I put out a lower-priced Createspace edition in 2014.)

6). There was once this producer I knew—an older fella who’d had some decent success with "artsy" films—and he really liked two of my horror scripts. First he optioned one script, then a year or so later he optioned the other script. He tried to raise financing for both scripts. Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out. But this old fella loved my writing enough to hire me to write two other screenplays. Paid me real money and everything!

7). I wrote a stage play once upon a time (waaay back in the '80s). Right around 2006 I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should try to get that play of mine produced somewhere.” I didn’t know much about getting a play produced, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. Through an actor I had met, I found an actor/theater owner who was looking for plays to produce at his theater. I sent him the script, he loved it, wanted to produce it. He assembled a cast, had a staged reading, made plans to start rehearsals…then something happened and he dropped the project and, POOF, disappeared. OK, so…fast forward to 2009. I thought maybe I’d try again to get the play off the ground. I queried a handful of theater groups. I got back a reply from just about all of them: “No thanks.” “Sound like fun, but no thanks.” “Not our cup of tea…but good luck!” “Sorry, but too many characters.” Then, finally: “Yes, we love it!” The play went up just a couple months later. Though it only ran 3 weeks, it was a nice success.

8). I had a nifty suspense/thriller script that a producer loved. In fact, he loved it enough to option it three years in a row. When the economy took a dive about 8 years ago, he had to pull the plug on several of his projects, mine included. Just a few days ago he e-mailed me: “Is that script of yours still available?” He told me he was putting together a “package of scripts” and would like to include mine. I told him, “Yup, it’s still available!” So, we’ll see.

There are other similar stories, of course. But the main thing is this: You never know what’s gonna happen; a door closes in one place, a door opens in another. And remember: Writing is great, and it can be fulfilling and a lot of fun, but you also have to live your life. Spend time with family, spend time with friends, travel, have adventures…LIVE! In the meantime, write your best material, get it out there, keep at it, and don’t give up. DON’T. GIVE. UP. I think you’ll be surprised by all the really good things that can happen.


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No witches, warlocks or vampires...
just a sexy tale about trying to live the Hollywood dream...





2 comments:

Anonymous said...

JIM,
YOU ONCE REVIEWED MY SCRIPT.
IT'S BEEN OVER 25 YEARS INTO THIS BUSINESS.
I AM FED UP.
WHAT IS THE HELL HAPPENING IN THIS BUSINESS.
WHERE IS CREATIVE SCREENWRITING MAGAZINE?
WHERE IS TROTTER THE PRINCE OF SCRIPT FORMAT?
WHY IS SCRIPTAPALOOZA GETTING LESS SCRIPTS EVERY YEAR?
WHY ARE THE BLOGS LIKE DONE DEAL AND MOVIE BYTES DYING AND DRYING UP?
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ASPRIRING WRITERS WHO USED TO FLOOD DONE DEAL AND MOVIE BYTES? WHERE DID THEY GO? WHY DO THEY GIVE UP SO EASILY?
WHY ARE THEY WEAK? WHY DON'T THEY RUN THE MARATHON OF SCREENWRITING?
WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE STARS OF THE SCREENWRITING INTERNET WORLD? WHAT HAPPEEND TO JIM C , EMILY BLAKE, JIM C, DAVE TROTTER, JULIE GRAY?
AND WHERE IS UNKNOWN SCREENWRITER? WHERE IS WILL FROM DONE DEAL, HE IS NOT DOING ANYTHING CUTTING EDGE? WHY IS PAGE SCRIPT CONTEST SLOWING DOWN, I DON'T HERE FROM JENNIFER AND ZOE ANYMORE? WHY ARE THEY LESS ACTIVE IN THE SCREENWRITING WORLD? WHY IS THE FORUM MOVIE BYTES AND ZEOTROPE DEAD AND GOT ZERO ACTIVITY???
WHY IS THE ART OF SCREENWRITING DYING>

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim. I recently asked you for advice regarding my Jumper pilot script and story board. Thank you again for your helpful advice. I've really enjoyed reading this blog posting. PBS read my Jumper pilot script 8 months ago. They didn't say anything bad about it. All they said was that they already had their cartoon lineup in place for 2014. Now that I've read this blog posting, I plan on contacting them again soon to remind them of my pilot script.

I congratulate you on your successes and wish you the best!

Author/screenwriter Rebecca Scarberry (@Scarberryfields on Twitter)