Last updated on 12 March 2018
I was talking to a talented director last night and he related to me his latest experience of that thing we all often go through—being told, “No.”
Whether you are pitching for a film, propping a TV show, a documentary idea, a web series, or trying to win that TVC or other job, in all likelihood you will be told “No” over “Yes.”
It can be dispiriting.
You have put so much time into the pitch. You’ve got the talent (or think you do), the idea/concept is a clear winner (your producer says so), the research has been done, the numbers stack up, and only an idiot would turn it down. And the idiot does.
For some, the “No” is a “Yes,” but just not from the right person. The Eternal Optimist.
For others, the “No” gives the merest twinge of pain before it’s up and on to the next person or the next pitch. The Cup Half Full Girl/Guy.
For a few, the “No” is really gut wrenching and the pain stays with you for days because you cannot fathom how that came to be the answer after your absolute belief that what you had done was a total winner. With distance you drag yourself up and get back into it. The Striver.
And then occasionally, the “No” prompts a major change of direction, or a change of career. The Realist.
Unless you are moving from regular contract to regular contract or fully employed, that “No” can mean the difference between paying your next bills or putting them on your already maxed out credit card.
This is not a nice place to be.
When you are a creative that is dependent on selling your idea to pay your bills, often on a project by project basis, and you are hearing nothing but “No,” then perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, “What time is it?”
In our high stress world, maybe it’s just time for you to take a break. Recharge those creative batteries. Rebuild that self-esteem.
Or perhaps you rework what was a fantastic premise into the prop it should have always been.
Maybe you pull that old idea out of the bottom drawer, dust it off, and shape it into the winning script/prop. that will deliver the magic answer.
Then again, maybe the idiot was right, the idea does suck, and you chuck it in the rubbish bin and start something new.
Or maybe it’s just time to realize that what you are doing is really not working and an honest self appraisal and major change is required—like get a job.
All of us have likely been through the lot.
We are in the business of taking regular knocks unless you are one of those truly talented people who everybody recognizes as a creative genius and who doesn’t hear “No” very often.
Our chances aren’t helped by the current environment because the screen industry is in turmoil. The changes are constant and it is definitely becoming harder to make a buck for individuals and companies alike in the traditional manner.
At the same time there are new opportunities, new ways to make money, new ways to express ideas that get picked up and go.
I attended a business-strategy session for screen practitioners this week with a couple of other non-profits, local government outfits, and a number of independent producers and staff from production companies.
It was a good reminder about the discipline of taking a strong self-look every 90 days to see if you are on track with your vision and objectives—if you’ve set them.
We all have our up days and our down days. When you are really down, try asking yourself, “What time is it?”
And maybe like Roy Schneider in All That Jazz you’ll say, “It’s show time, folks.” And you’ll get out there, make that effort and hear that one word we all love, long to hear, and sometimes wait an eternity for.
It’s the answer both the deluded and the talented pursue. May you all have many “Yesses” in your futures.