ON LOCATION November 5, 2016
The 5 Types of “No” In Hollywood and What They Mean
Emerging writers will often experience anxiety after sending a script, query letter, synopsis and so on. Naturally they would like to hear a response from the producer or Production Company in question.
The five types of NO I’ll outline should not discourage writers. Rather it is a challenge to create a script that is amazing, unique and original.
No 1 – Radio silence
This is by far the most common response from producers, agents and managers, and also the least popular among writers. What will happen is this: you send in the material, and then you hear nothing.
You contact them again, and you hear nothing.
Now, it’s certainly true that sometimes a producer’s reading docket is backfilled with projects and scripts that need to be read, and that can take time, but if it’s been longer than a few weeks, and they haven’t responded to your calls or emails, then it’s very possible you’re getting ghosted with the silent no.
No 2 – We love it but we have a similar project
There’s no real way to know if a producer, agent, or manager is telling the truth about this or not, but they certainly could be.
It depends on how one defines “similar.” Do they already have another rom-com? Or do they have another rom-com that’s set in Texas featuring two funeral directors with pickle-shaped birthmarks which, wouldn’t you know it, is exactly the same as your story?
Either way, this is a no.
No 3 – This has a lot of potential but…
This sounds a lot like a compliment, but it’s actually a version of “no.”
They may be telling the truth that they enjoyed the work, but the bottom line is that they didn’t enjoy it enough to buy it. That’s the hard truth of this one
No 4 – We loved it but we need someone else to read it
This is a solid “maybe.” Unfortunately, it means you’ll have to wait to see what they do. Also, it’s possible this will lead to radio silence. Still: it could be very positive if they’re moving it up the chain.
On a positive note:
No 5 – We liked it but have some notes
This is another solid “maybe.” They may offer great notes or terrible notes, and even if you make the changes, they may still pass, but at least you have another shot at getting your foot in their door. If they’ve thought up notes, though, it means they’re invested enough in the project to spend valuable time considering changes. It also means they’re willing to spend time reading another version. This is a good sign.
When we start writing, the hope is that producers, agents and managers love the script enough to option it. Yes, there is disappointment. The sheer volume of rejection for writers can cause some to give up. Don’t. Giving up too easily is the biggest mistake a writer can make. No one has ever succeeded without hearing some version of the responses listed above. Rejection is a part of the film writing business. The important thing is to stay focused — and keep moving forward. Do write scripts that are original, characters that are compelling and memorable. Be creative. Be unique in your story telling.
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