As screenwriters, we get rejected a lot. If you haven’t, you’re either very lucky, or very new at this. Submitting your work and having it ignored (if you’re lucky) or ripped apart (if you’re not), doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Learning from rejection is a time-honored rite of passage for all aspiring creators. Harry Potter was rejected by publishers a solid twelve times, sometimes with harsh words, before our favorite boy wizard inspired seven books, eight films, and three theme parks.
If your pitch, story, or screenplay is turned down, congratulations! You thought of something, made it, and showed it to someone else. That is something to be commended and celebrated. Use this time to pat yourself on the back for being brave, but also use it as a time to see where you went wrong. Improve your structure, take another look at the dialogue, tweak and tighten, so that when you submit it again (which you definitely will), it’ll be that much harder to turn down.
And while you may be discouraged, take heart in the fact that some of our favorite movies of all time were passed over before finding their way to the big screen. See some shocking examples here, watch Brian Grazer’s words of encouragement here, and share in the comments something you’ve learned from rejection.
I was once told that to be a good writer, you have to read twice as much as you write. To be a good screenwriter, I think the rules are the same. Reading other scripts, and especially giving constructive feedback, is a skill that will not only help other writers, but can help us find the flaws and mistakes in our own work.
For those of us who are a little timid when it comes to confrontation, telling others what we honestly think of their work can be intimidating, but don’t let it stop you. Whether someone is resistant or grateful, honesty is the best policy and a necessary step for the betterment of all screenwriters.
Here’s a concise and spot-on guide for How to Give Feedback on Someone Else’s Work without losing friends and acting like a jerk.
Any additional tips or tricks you’ve picked up? Opinions on feedback in general? Any notes about this post? Share them in the comments.
This summer, the students in the Hollins University Graduate Screenwriting & Film Studies video production class will release a seven-episode web series, called Failure to Adult, that was written, directed, and edited by Hollins University students. The writing took place during the spring semester prior and the filming of all seven episodes took place during the six-week summer session. It really is impressive what was accomplished in that time frame.
As a member of this class, I was incredibly excited to learn the filmmaking process from start to finish and script to screen as a new writer and filmmaker (I can say that now!). It was wonderful to learn each phase of the filmmaking process and how each phase brings its own set of challenges. We had six weeks to cast, shoot, edit, and premiere the web series. In order to do this successfully, we really had to work together and take on our own unique roles outside of rotating between the crew positions of Director, 1st Assistant Director (1st AD, the person who manages the set), Sound, Gaffer (the person in charge of the lights), props master/craft services (free food!), Director of Photography (DP), and Script Supervisor (scripty). While some of us hunted locations another corresponded with actors while somebody else organized all of our necessary information so we could all stay on the same page. It was a whirlwind of a process, but we are happy about the outcome. The coolest (and most terrifying) feeling was sitting in a room with peers and friends as we watched and laughed at the show we created. We got some strong feedback and are hopeful about how it will be received.
Feel free to check out the series and share it with people you know. It will officially launch in September on Vimeo and YouTube. Stay tuned!
Click here to see more details: Failure to Adult: Official Facebook Page
Press from NPR: Hollins Program Cranks Out Hopeful Filmmakers
All good things must come to an end, and so it is with Amanda’s tenure as the official Hollins’ Screenwriting Blogger. She is off to bigger and better things, like agonizing over her thesis and job hunting with her fancy degree. She has kindly handed off the login info to me and trusted me with her baby. Ha! Fool!
Hi, I’m Amy. And I am a filmaholic.
At this passing of the torch, I was inspired to write about giving up control of our own babies: our screenplays. Our stories and characters are often things we’ve thought about for years. We feel a strong connection and sense of ownership over the tales that we tell and the progress of our protagonists. Sometimes, we guard these stories too much and they live out their lives in a folder on our laptops, never seeing the light of day. While it’s imperative that we have such passion for our work, it’s equally as important that we learn when to let go.
Writer’s groups, thoughtful professors, or just trusted friends are all important elements to creating a good screenplay. But collaboration isn’t the only reason to share your work with a trusted critic or observer. Here are three reasons why your creative work needs an audience.
What insights have you gained by sharing your screenplay with others? Share in the comments below.