There was a time when I pictured being a starving writer in a whimsical, romantic light, not entirely unlike Rent, although without the terminal disease but plentiful in musical numbers and fingerless gloves. My reality however, has been disappointingly lacking in impromptu musical set pieces.Luckily for me, I haven’t embarked on any time consuming ventures like joining SAG or meeting with designers for award show fittings or hiring assistants to make sure I get from pitch meetings at Sony to generals at Mandeville in a timely fashion. Only successful people do things like that and alas, that is heretofore not me. I have however realized that most of the rejection I’ve faced has come in the form of the various ways in which friends and acquaintances fail to follow through on their promises. I’m on to you, guys! Here are a few things my fellow writers should be aware of, but basically, most of the people who say they are going to read/pass along/option your script will do nothing of the sort. I’ve learned this the hard way. Please exercise caution in the following scenarios.
1) “I read your script and it’s awesome and I’m going to meet with my co-producer about making you an offer.”
My very first week in Hollywood, I got a call from a producer who was a friend of a friend who was enthusiastic, nay gushing, about one of my features. He all but promised me an option and said that I would hear from him by the end of the week. That week came and went and when I contacted him again I got some version of “Lydia? Oh, yeah, we decided to go in a different direction…” And thus began my inauspicious trek down the boulevard of broken dreams.
2) “OMG! You’re so talented, let me introduce you to my manager.”
This is a lie. If another writer says this to you, please know that they won’t read anything you send them because no one in Hollywood can be bothered to read anything longer than coverage. If they do read it and so much as suspect that you are equally or more talented than they are, they will definitely, definitely not introduce you to their manager. Writers are insecure and deathly afraid that your talent will take away from potential work for them. It’s a fact.
3) “I just started at a lit desk at (insert agency). Send me your stuff.”
Nope! This person may mean well, but they are simply too busy to read your earnest story of redemption. When you start on an agency desk , your only free time will be the fleeting moments between transferring calls. This person will HARASS you to send your script multiple times because they will lose it, but they will never, ever read it. And if they do, no one at ICM, WME or the like is going to read a script that their new second assistant is championing. Try again.
4) “You seem really bright. I’d love to read a spec. Here’s my assistant’s email address.”
This is the kiss of death. If someone says this to you, they don’t even consider you worthy of their generic office email. True, their assistant would ultimately delete it and send it into the “unsolicited” abyss, but at least if the exec’s name was attached you could fool yourself into thinking that they would see it. If you’re immediately relegated to a third party, you have failed.Now that you’re aware of these disheartening scenarios, all of which I’ve experienced numerous times, you can forego the pain that lives in the silence of an unanswered email. As for me, I may give up writing entirely, marry Rob Kardashian since that’s obviously the quickest way to get a show on the E! network, and attempt to parlay my subsequent unfavorable publicity into a respectable acting career. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my “gracious loser” face in the mirror. Maybe one day I’ll get to use it at the Independent Spirit Awards…