Yesterday on Just Effing we talked about the ways in which reps can say “no” in confusing ways that leave you in paralysis. What did the “no thanks but I’ll read another script of yours” really mean? What do you do? Well you don’t put your life on hold on account of mixed signals, I’ll tell you that much. If a rep offers to read another script of yours in the future absolutely stay in touch and absolutely send another script. But what if this becomes a pattern? Now what?
Guys, I have gone before you and I have been in this situation many times. And I have put my life on hold. And I have held my breath, and I have pored over letters and emails with a magnifying glass trying to interpret soft “no’s” and soft “yes’s”. What’s a soft “yes”? It’s we really liked the script but we can’t see doing anything with it right now – what else do you have? So you send another script – and you wait another six weeks and you get another such reply.
On the one hand, a manager feels that way about you – that you have potential, it’s terrific. Because you have a relationship with someone who sees potential. That’s validating and could pay off down the line. Or – it might not pay off. You may never deliver a script to that person that they get truly excited about. So how do you know how long to keep that relationship/courting game up and how do you know when to cut and run to someone who leaps out of their La-Z-Boy when you come home? It’s simple: keep up the relationship, yes. Keep checking in with new ideas and new loglines. Make nice to that person who is interested in you. Don’t bug them, play it cool, but stay in touch. But at the same time – continue querying others. Because if someone else makes something happen for you and the first manager didn’t – they aren’t going to be mad at you, they’re going to say DAMN IT, I blew it!
It’s a dance. A lot like dating. It’s important to know when someone is just not that into you and it’s important to sex yourself up by dating other people – by being less available. Because when someone is really interested in you and your script – the signs are unmistakable and things move really fast. There’s no second-guessing it.
After doing this dance for a long time – I finally got a manager. And it happened very quickly. A phone call. I like this script, I’d like to meet you. This week. And I’d like to strategize going out with the script. Boom. Bam. Done.
And guys, writers often go through several managers before finding one who not only likes you and your work but who has the ability to get your work out to serious buyers, who doesn’t give up when they get a lot of “no’s”, one who works and who works hard on your behalf, consistently. But even when you get that great manager, if they thought they could do something with your script but are proven apparently wrong by a lot of “no’s”, often what happens is instead of dropping you – they just fade away. They slow down submitting your material, they slow down calling you back, they are less available to you…why? Because they are going out with someone else now, and putting all their energy into that person. It’s not personal and it’s not unusual. They just stop returning your calls. Yeah – I’ve gone through that too. Hot and cold.
So what do you do with this awkward courtship? As with dating, you retain your independence and self-respect. You are not desperate, you hear me? You have value and if someone saw it, even a glimpse of it, enough to hip pocket you – then you know you have something that will interest somebody else too.
What’s a hip pocket? Well, it’s like this: I’ll represent you only until or unless I set up your script in a finite period of time. And if I don’t – I never knew you. Say hello, wave goodbye. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.
A hip pocket is not a bad thing – in fact, it can lead to great things. But often, a hip pocket deal results in a quick fade-out to the relationship. And again, I get it. You can only imagine the number of writers who approach managers on a daily basis. You can only get behind so many scripts and writers. Sure, you might like a writer and kinda like the script – but what’s the potential that your time and attention to this script/writer will result in dollars? It’s hard but the math has to be done.
It’s pretty cool to have someone so into your writing and your script that they talk it up wherever they go in Hollywood. It’s way cool. But if someone can do that AND get you set up – go with that person. No hard feelings. Until you have a ring on your finger – you are in an open relationship.
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