Monday, October 19, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 94 - Familiar Rejection

Last Monday, I was supposed to have a call with my manager and producer to update me on the status of my script at the top four agencies – WME, CAA, ICM, and UTA. The call was pushed to Tuesday to give agents extra time to read. Unfortunately, bumping it back a day didn’t really yield any extra results, and the one bit of information that I did get wasn’t the best. We only heard back from CAA, and the agent there passed on the script.

It’s an odd feeling to be experiencing rejection (from an agent) at this stage of the game. It’s also usefully humbling. I think that I had allowed myself to think beyond agents to the next step – actually making a sale – to such a degree that I needed something to ground myself and my expectations a bit. To be honest, I’m still not wedded to the notion of having an agent on board (that is, after all, an additional 10% out of my sale). However, my manager and producer think that an agent can help solidify a sale, so I’ll go with the flow.

I had previously thought that having a manager and a producer attached to a spec would make it a stronger case for an agent, especially if there’s already a laundry list of places we’re thinking of sending it out to. That’s obviously not the case, though. Breaking in, no matter how good other industry people might think your script is, is still no walk through the park. It’s easy to get aggravated by the sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles new writers face when trying to get into the industry. Especially in light of the number of terrible movies getting made and the cringe-worthy scripts we read as interns or readers, frustration is easy to succumb to. The key though, is to move past that.

My one large concern – if you can call it that – that came out of the CAA rejection was the feedback that came with it. The agent who read the script thought that the first half was great, but that the second half was just more of the same old. Setting aside the fact that once you break in, the same old is what every company wants from you (an exaggeration, perhaps, but not by much), the note was troubling from a developmental point of view. I’m not sure I agree with the note (or see exactly where it’s coming from), so I don’t yet know how I’d approach it without further insight from the source. When I asked my manager about it, he said to just treat it like one person’s opinion for now, and that the agent acknowledged that other agents might jump at the opportunity to tie themselves to it.

Oh well. The wait continues.


Anonymous said...

Don't be too dismissive of the agent's feedback. The fact you got any feedback at all is something to be embraced. A lot of writers start writing because they think it looks easy. They say to themselves (or their friends), "Look at all the crap that gets made. I can write at least that well." The fact is, if you're an unknown writer without any sales under your belt, you can't just write as well as what you see on the screen. You have to be ten times better in order to stand out. Once you've sold one or two scripts, then you can write mediocre crap and still sell it. For agents and other gatekeepers will not take a chance with an unknown unless their work really kicks ass. Think of it this way: An A-list screenwriter is like a basketball team that begins the game with a 10-20 point advantage. You have to be that much better just to catch up.

Cake Man said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom. You hit the nail on the head - it's nice to at least get feedback. I didn't start trying to do this because I thought it looked easy, though you're right again in that there are probably a lot of people who do. And sure, I think that there's a lot of crap out there. It's just frustrating that I have to write so far above and beyond that to break into the industry, and then not only will my script likely get changed (i.e. dumbed down), but then the expectations for my next work will slowly lower. I'll be able to turn out the "crap that gets made," much to the frustration of future writers. It's an endless cycle, I suppose (unless, of course, we future writers decide to keep the bar high).