Thursday, March 31, 2016

Handling Rejection in the Entertainment Industry as a Professional… and Non-Professional. (Part 3)

Over the years there have been specific ways of handling rejection that I believed has allowed me to have a thriving, longlasting career in the entertainment industry. I recommend them all for anyone really serious about working in the entertainment industry; or as mantras for the professional screenwriter hoping to keep a career moving forward. Here's what I might say to myself after something I've worked on is rejected -- 


Rejection is a system. Attrition is still the EI systemic way of dealing with the multitudes who aspire to be a part of the industry. It is 100% in practice to this very day. Therefore, one should respond to Rejection in the Entertainment Industry as part of a process that is meant to weed out those who do not “deserve” to move forward to the level where the real games begin.

And if you don't want to look at this point in such totalitarian terms, then see it as a matter of statistics. There are only a few people who are in the position to say "yes" in Hollywood, the only answer that leads to your project moving forward in a significant way. Everyone else has to say, "no." So unless you are the hottest writer, the biggest star, a whale with a ton of money to spend, you will hear "no," 99.9% of the time.


For instance, if you want to play the game of writing big-budget movies, then you should know that your choice means you will be playing the long game with your career. If you win, you win big. But you will almost always lose with a big budget (spec) screenplay because, now, more than ever before, maklng movies is about the money (& Branding) Not just the production budget, but also the marketing expenses to launch a big studio franchise movie. Both are stacked up against the worldwide gross of a project and if the numbers don’t add up… you won’t get traction on your script/project. 
There are ways to hedge your bets, ways to make your project sexier and enhance the chances of it getting produced, but a big-budget spec script will always be about the long game strategy. 
Can you handle that as a writer? 
In the long game, facing rejection becomes a familiar beast best handled with patience and persistence. 
Or don’t bother.


Naiveté allows too many doors to remain open, inviting too many people the opportunity to take advantage of you along the way, telling you what you want to hear rather than the truth.

Bitterness closes too many doors. It generally is a result of not being able to handle the truth about your work. 
Bitterness typically takes the form of blaming everything and everyone but yourself for career disappointments — the messenger, the system, the people in your past.
You should only be striving to succeed in this industry with eyes wide open... to everything that might and probably will happen. But never let your eyes end up bloodshot from what is happening to you. If you can't consistently stay in the middle of these two extremes, then walk away... before people need to help carry you off the field. 


Yeah, I know, everyone wants to believe they are learning from every rejection they receive. But here's the thing -- most people would like to believe they are learning from feedback, but most never do. They usually pay all their mental attention to the good and explain away the bad. They don't have the confidence in their ability and their craft to believe that what comes their way negatively will only make them a better writer.

This is the way most feedback begins when one is talking to a real writer hoping the feedback will help their work get better —  

ME: Do you want me to go into how great the first act is, how the main character is wonderful... 

PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITER: I appreciate the kind words, but let's skip that and get to the second act, when the main character discovers the truth about his past. What do you think I can do to make that entire sequence work better?  

Learning from Rejection means questioning your talent and ability as a Professional Screenwriter.  
The ones who get better are the ones who doubt what they are doing on some level of their effort.  
The best writers I know, no matter what they've already accomplished, are always questioning what they are writing. Usually, this is how they ended up with something they've accomplished to look back on.  
This is the real reason that the good writers are generally not pleasant people to be around.  
And its the reason those who write as a hobby, are always happy about what they are working on. Ignorance can be bliss when know one is telling you you're an idiot.  

When one gets rejected, do what you must to remain standing, but don't draw on the power of saying the person who has rejected you is wrong about your work. 
Indeed, I believe in your contemplation of the work you should always start here — 
Assume they are right. 
I promise you — You'll have the best chance of learning from the rejection if you start there.