Rejection Reality: Welcome to the Club

Dear WRITER:

We appreciate your interest in working with our studio. As I’m sure you understand, making a film requires a lot of time, money, and, most of all, passion for the project. While we applaud your efforts in writing TAMING OF THE SHREW, TOO, we are going to pass. We wish you luck in your future endeavors.

Sincerely, 

The Gate Key Holder

 

The first Rejection Letter I ever got, I smiled. After hearing for years about the famous rejections that every author, writer, and artist in the world receive, I had finally gotten mine, and felt like I had just gotten my membership card in an exclusive club. Even though I was one step further away from having a project put into production, I was one huge step closer to my goal of being a writer. I had dreams of framing that letter. Next stop: my WGA card.

Now, I have absolutely no idea what I did with it, nor do I really care. I’m well versed in the efficiency of the Rejection Letter. I’ve come to know it’s form very well, and truly appreciate when there’s at least a signature on the bottom so that I am aware it at least came from the computer of a real person. What’s more, having the opportunity to sit in a studio development office and write the Rejection Letter, I’m usually surprised I even get a response at all.

The Rejection Letter signifies so many things. But two main ones come to mind. First, that you grew a pair and actually had the nerve to send your project out to the people that matter. There’s a world of writers out there that write thousands of pages only to keep them unread in a drawer somewhere in the basement. Second, and most importantly, that you’ve now got a credit to your name. And the fact that you’ve gotten a Letter means that you’ve joined the ranks of thousands of writers out there that are all trying to do the same thing you are: get that script made.

So now that you’ve got one, what do you do?  Sitting there in your inbox on your desk, it’s staring you in the eye calling you a punk. What do you do with that useless, indescript passion killer that’s known as the Rejection Letter?

1. Figure out why you were rejected.

I’ll be perfectly honest. This might actually be an impossible task. Why do bad things happen to good people? There is no real answer. There are a lot of bad scripts that are floating around Hollywood. On top of that, there are a lot really busy people. Maybe your dialogue is rusty. Maybe you have no real inciting incident. Maybe you’re characters are clichéd. Or maybe the script just sat in a pile for a few days and the reader was tired/cranky/sick/mistook yours for another one with the same title. There’s no real answer here, UNLESS you already know why. That feeling in the back of your head, that you should have done this or that before you sent it in but you thought you’d send it anyway. If that’s the case, fix it. That rejection letter has given you another chance to find the problem and take care of it.

2. Go back to your old career.

You must be kidding here. One rejection letter is just that– it’s just one. It’s one person’s opinion, and if one person’s critical judgment is all it takes for you to hang up your writing jacket, then you should go back to your old job. Pay the bills. Work the 9-5. Have kids. Grow old. Retire. Tell others of the day you gave it a shot, because honestly, one rejection letter is child’s play.

I’ve had the conversations with those who wrote a script, got the Letter, and stopped writing. If that’s all it takes for you, then go. Not to be harsh, but one writer who’s put down their pen means one less person the rest of us have to compete it.

3. Brush it off. Your next script is going to knock their socks off.

Rejection is part of film. It’s part of being creative. And as much as you love your project or think it’s the next Pulp Fiction, there are a thousand other people out there that will completely disagree with you. Movie making is an art, yes, but it’s an industry first. It’s cutthroat and there’s a bottom line that studios are always up against. Many people in the industry love what they do. Some are truly passionate. Some, unfortunately, have forgotten why they got into it. Some are completely miserable. The problem is that you have no idea which person is going to read your script, and so you have to impress all of them. Your job is to tell an awesome, unforgettable story that will make even the most miserable worker in the dungeons of hell smile, laugh, or tear up.

And maybe you just wrote your awesome story. Maybe that’s the one that just got rejected. And maybe that’s the one that got you your Letter. Congratulations. Hey, welcome to the Club. Frame it, shred it, light a cigar with it. If you’ve gotten that letter, you’re one step closer to your dream.