I have always been an "Ideas" guy in my career as a creative artist.
Over the years, it has paid off with pitch sales and screenplay deals.
However, if you’re an Ideas guy and you don’t get your projects made, one of the problems is that inevitably there will come a time when your great idea/premise/plotline/story/concept ends up being produced… by someone else.
Not ripped off.
No, I’m talking about someone else fishing from the same creative lake I believe we as Professional Creators all end up using... or fishing from for our creative ideas.
Now whether I'm right or wrong about where we get our creative bright ideas, the point that we can probably all agree on is this -- Any idea/premise/storyline/plot… good or bad, will eventually get made. It's only a matter of time.
Even the most successful professionals must face the reality that a small percentage of their projects will ultimately be produced. Therefore, your typical professional creative artist will inevitably face the disappointment of being scooped by someone else.
Whether you know it or not, somewhere out there, your creative Doppelganger is working away on a similar Movie/TV series script. And the really scary part is that there’s probably more than one of these Doppelgangers doing whatever they can with their creative efforts to make sure that their version of your beloved project ends up being produced.
As a Professional Screenwriter, how have I handled the news that a project that I’ve worked on, (perhaps for years) is about to get produced by someone else?
Obviously, I feel extremely disappointed when I recieve the news.
But my emotioal despair never lasts very long.
1 - I’m a professional. And professionals handle the disappointment of being scooped as an inevitable and consistent occupational hazard of their trade. Those that can’t handle disappointment as an expected part of their job usually do not become professionals in the first place. Those that do become professionals but can't master their emotions end up with short careers in the creative arts.
2 - I have supreme confidence in my ability to create. I always believe that the next great project I will be working on is either already being developed or will enter my imagination tomorrow... maybe next week. And the next great idea (that I haven't even thought of yet) will be just as strong, or even better than the project being produced by someone else.
3 – I console myself with this thought - If a project I’ve created and have had in development (sometimes for years) ends up getting produced by someone else, then obviously my ability/talent to create original, compelling, commercial projects is strong.
4 - I see being scooped as an opportunity to learn.
This last point is critical when receiving the news that your beloved project has been scooped and is being produced by someone else. I firmly believe it’s one of the reasons my work has continued to get better over the years. I always take the opportunity to learn from my “defeat.”
This final point is so important, that I will expand on it in a separate/future post.