I be a good righter.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rejected Schmejected


RASAH ROOLS THE WORLD! You SO wish you were her!

Now to the rejectees:

It's that time of year. You've submitted your scripts to the contests, you've either gotten a call that you've advanced, or you've gotten a very generic letter informing you that you haven't (usually because of their overwhelming response, or something). If you're the latter, I'm sorry. If you're the former, congrats!

Except, getting a call that you've advanced is only great if you get in -- right? This is not the Oscars where it's an honor just to have been nominated -- RIGHT? This would have been the blast needed to get you into the screenwriting orbit. So, if you've gotten in: Congrats! If you haven't, I'm sorry. My only consolation is: neither did I.

If you didn't advance, but you got at least got a call and an interview, then this is a post written for you. Specifically you in the back. If you didn't get a call, you just weren't good enough (and by you, I mean me). And, you have to figure out what you can do to improve your writing. Okay, the next bit's for you (the no callees):

Here's the thing I'm noticing a lot on writers' message boards, bitterness. People are wondering why they didn't get a call. I know why I didn't get a call. My script sucked. I'm not being coy, and secretly expecting you to say "your script was great!" Because you didn't read it. You didn't see the typo in the title, and the three typos on the first page. You didn't see all the logic flaws. You didn't... well, you just don't know. But, I do. Now, on the flip side of this, I know what I wrote, what I sent in, and I knew I wouldn't get a call. So, in some ways I'm assuming you sent in something similar. Because why else wouldn't you have gotten a call? Right?

Okay, here's the flaw in my logic. I also applied to another contest, with the script that got me into one program (Disney -- two years ago) and got me an interview with another (CBS -- last year). I sent this in to another contest (NBC). And, I didn't get a call. I'm a little surprised -- but, only because it did well in other contests. But, the way I see it? I did the best I could with that one, and that script already did well for me. Personally, I hate that script. But, other people seem to love it, so I continue to send it out. So, I'm assuming there were 299 people who had scripts that were better than mine -- which is believable.

Thing is, a lot of people don't think this way. A lot of people think they're entitled to a spot in Disney or NBC or.... Or, what I've seen recently, what's inspired this post is the mentality that, "Contests are rigged." Apparently contests are not recognizing your genius. But, I submit to you: Maybe you're not recognizing your inability to write an effective script? Maybe you suck right now. Maybe you need to write some more, and get some feedback from people who aren't your mother. I'm über hard on myself as a writer, and I don't encourage you to be that way. But, I do encourage you to find people who would be equally as hard on your scripts as I would be. Because, believe you me, I'd rip you a new one. Just for fun. NO, this is not an offer to read your work. I have writing to be procrastinated...

Okay. Tough love for the rejected out of the way. Back to the semi-finalists and the finalist...

So, this October, November or December you got a call. Your caller ID revealed an 818 number (or, 323 if it was from Television City). Congratulations! You are in an elite group!

So, things are going swimmingly for you. You've gotten the chance to pull up to the gates (or, if you're a semi-finalist in Disney, you got the thrill of the phone call!)! You've gotten a chance to park inside WB, NBC, ABC or CBS (perhaps FOX?). You've gotten the chance to spend days (weeks) prepping for that interview. You've gotten the chance to sit inside the building, next to your peers (or if you're a Disney finalist, you've gotten the chance to hang out with your fellow finalists at some sort of mixer where the higher ups test you on your ability to, well, mix -- which is weird). You've had many sleepless nights. Because you're thinking, "this is it! This is my career about to be launched -- please god, I want it sooooo bad, please please please?"

Except, here's the thing. You get a call. You take a deep breath before answering, ready for the good news. Except it's not. Not good, I mean. They're calling to tell you how great you are, how much they loved meeting you, what a privilege it was, how great a writer you are, but you're just not for them.


They're rejecting you? And, they're letting you down easy? THOSE FUCKERS!

In a daze, you hang up. Maybe you stare at the phone a little bit. Maybe you cry. Maybe you call a loved one. Maybe you've braced yourself for this eventuality and you've stocked up your freezer with Dulce De Leche ice cream (I tend to brace myself for every eventuality with this).

Now, I've been on the receiving end of both types of phone calls, and I highly recommend the whole, "you're in!" phone call. But, this isn't about that. This is about the OTHER phone call. The one where you're rejected.

But, see? You aren't. You didn't get a wooden spoon (that's what the no callees got). You have an official title now: "Semi-Finalist," maybe it's, "Finalist." Whatever it is, it's enough to leap frog you from being a nobody to a somebody. The only thing standing between you and getting an agent is the fact that you haven't picked up the phone and sold yourself to them.

(I am of the firm belief that, though some people go on to have wonderful careers after winning contests, the reality is, most contests get you nothing but an agent. And, in some cases, you don't even wind up with that -- I'm just saying, contests aren't the end all be all.)

I know it sucks right now. Really, really I do. But, you've got to get over the "rejected" part of all of this, and get to the "holy shit, I might be kind of good at this!" stage. Because, that's what being a Semi-Finalist and a Finalist means. You've got external validation from people who might know a thing or two about decent scripts, and you're on your way!!!

So, congratulations!


  • At December 13, 2006 7:39 AM, Blogger Shawn said…

    Hey, congrats yourself on getting rejected. I was rejected after making the semis at Disney. Not the end of the world by any means. I think some people get so locked into the idea of winning as their only hope of making it in the business that they get crushed beyond recognition when they don't. They don’t realize it's only one of many avenues. The best way, as it has always been, is to slip your script (preferably the one that gets you in the semis or finals) into a professional's hands through a personal referral. It's better to spend time and energy going through one's contact list and making phone calls rather than cursing the gods and blaming 'rigged contests.' Gots to pound that pavement.

  • At December 13, 2006 12:20 PM, Blogger Scribble94 said…

    Great post. I feel prepared for either outcome. By which I mean, either way, I'm having a couple of beers.

  • At December 13, 2006 7:40 PM, Blogger odo coileus said…

    Rejected? Join the club.

    Dejected? Never.

  • At December 14, 2006 6:42 PM, Blogger procrastinatrix said…

    Aw, thanks for the congrats!! And i'm rooting for scrib, too. Waiting sucks, huh? Just make sure they tell you. Last year Disney "forgot" to call me about rejecting me (Howsabout some salt in that wound, right?). Then again, this year CBS didn't tell me they accepted me (I walked into an "interview" and realized it wasn't an interview so much as it was an introductory meeting), so maybe it balances out.

    Anyway, BooM is right about everything per usual. And I definitely agree that these programs, while wonnnnderful to win, are not the ticket to Fame, Fortune and the American Dream. Boy, BooM and I both know that if you have to lament the number of contestants who feel entitled to win, how about the winners who feel entitled to jobs? Yeesh. Last year I thought I was golden and that the program was gonna do it all. This year I'm a little more realistic and I'm not looking at the program as my FastTrak Pass to cut in the Space Mountain line giving out staff jobs. (Huh, I guess that analogy would have worked better if I were doing the Disney program.)

  • At December 17, 2006 1:00 AM, Blogger BooM said…


    Congrats right back! And, I totally agree with you. Hopefully this post will help disabuse someone of that notion?


    Fingers are still crossed for you! Beer's chilling in the fridge, for an overseas toast (regardless of outcome) to celebrate the rock that is you!


    Yay rhymes! :)


    I just re-told that story! The one where Disney totally neglected to inform you that... yeah. Fuckers. Uncle Fuckers.

    And, I think that's a great attitude to have! Though, I think CBS is a little more awesome than the other programs out there. Carole seems really keen on promoting new writers! So, I have high hopes for you, missy!


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