When we had a manager, he sent our spec to half a dozen production companies and got us ONE meeting. He also took three months to give us notes on our second script, and they weren’t even his notes. (We fired him.) He also told us that he hadn’t heard back from the other “two dozen” companies, and that not calling means a pass. Will was an executive at a production company for six years (well, he was an executive for a little more than half that time), and that is a LIE. Not calling means you haven’t read it yet. (Did I mention we fired him?) Oh, and he also failed to follow up on any of the (actual) two dozen positive reactions we had to a pitch–most assuredly not set up by him–that went nowhere. (Fired.)
That pitch. Oh, that pitch. We were approached by a former co-worker of Will’s, now a development exec at a small company that owns several comic book properties. She sent us a stack of low-priority books to see if we had a “take” on any of them. One of them had a terrific hook, and we went in and pitched the hell out of our idea to make it into a movie. They loved it and we spent about four months developing an outline with them. Then we took it out to studios and production companies. That kind of blew for me, because I stayed home with Sam while Will pitched. It was a month before Andrea moved here and there was no one else I would leave Sam with. Sigh. So they went out and pitched the idea, and the executives all loved it, loved Will, loved us (based on our spec, which we used as a sample), but the marketing departments all said no. Every single place passed because of some vague idea of the movie being a genre they didn’t know how to sell. (Horror/comedy is the easiest sell of all time. I don’t have any idea what their problem was.) The whole thing depresses me so much, because if we’d just written the script I think it could have sold. And maybe someday we will write it, but we put in six months gratis and it was passed on by so many places that it just feels not worth it.
We had another manager offer us representation, and he was pretty cool except that he never remembered what we’d talked about previously and didn’t seem interested in our career so much as he seemed to want to hang out with us. Seriously, he wanted us to meet his girlfriend. And while we liked him, we have enough friends. Besides, he thought I had bad taste in movies. How would THAT make for a good relationship, professional or otherwise? (He objected to my appreciation of action movies starring The Rock. COME ON.) Also, he had the same first name as the first guy.
We’ve done two (unpaid) rewrites for friends. One of them we had to withdraw from for a number of reasons, and I am still depressed about it because we loved that project. There were just too many strikes against it for us to be able to make it a priority. I hope someday we can go back to it (if our friend will have us). The other is actually going quite well, and I am optimistic about it, but working on something for a year with no guarantees can be discouraging. The other day the producer asked me if we wanted an advance on the $0 he’s paying us. He was making fun of himself for pushing for us to finish the latest draft, and I think he’s awesome for it, but we are so broke that I can’t really laugh.
An agent liked our script and wanted to meet us. I was apprehensive. We met him, we liked him, I remained cautious but thought it seemed OK. He didn’t make any offer, instead asking to see our next script (this is good). He had his own first name. We sent him our second spec script as soon as we finished the first draft. Six weeks later I sent him a follow-up note, asking if he’d had a chance yet to read it. He immediately responded that it was a “great read” but he “didn’t 100% love it.” I don’t know what the heck that means, and I don’t really care because it isn’t at all helpful. If he’d said, “I can’t sell a western,” that would be useful information. If he said, “I think Character X should live,” that’s a fixable problem. We are very good at taking notes, and if he’d suggested changes we would have made them. But no, just “didn’t love it.” OK, fine. At least now I know that the first guy meant that no call means a pass if you are an agent or manager.
We’ve never queried an agent, because we first tried contacts of Will’s from his executive days (I suppose technically we queried them, but in the real Hollywood way: informally, as a favor) and then we had several referrals. And now it is time to query. We have the option of going back to those now two-year-old contacts of Will’s, most of whom did say they’d be happy to read anything else we have, and we probably will contact them, but we feel the need to query widely.
I’ve written a query letter and it’s reasonably good. I think. (Will thinks so too.) Now we have to finish polishing the script, but that has to wait till we get some notes because we think it is absolutely perfect exactly as is. Or at least, it is our best writing to date so we don’t really know how to improve it. (We asked three friends to read it. One has given us some good notes and the other two are presumably busy having lives and should in no way take this as me being pushy.)
I don’t mind hard work. In fact, if I am going to work at all I prefer it that way. And being a writer isn’t something I take lightly–it’s all I’ve wanted to be my entire life. (Well, maybe I also wanted to be a detective, a lounge singer, an actress, and a foot model. But mostly I’ve always wanted to be a writer.) But this business is one where a writer whose last produced project is action/adventure is still told she can’t write in said genre because years ago she wrote for a tween girls’ series. This is a business where the people who go farthest are the people who get out there and sell themselves, and at least half of those people have zero writing talent. I prefer to spend my work time actually writing, so I’m getting nowhere.
I know we’ve barely tried yet. But the results thusfar are discouraging.
I guess I am questioning whether I’m really willing to spend the time selling myself when there is such a slim chance of success. This is also known as minor depression. It’ll pass. In the meantime, practical advice welcome. Encouragement too.