Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

When Hollywood says YES, they really mean NO?

I subscribe to a newsletter called "Good in a Room" which talks about what to do and what not to do when meeting with Hollywood movie makers - I'm talking the BIG WIGS! This newsletter has some really good advice, things I would not have thought of myself. This particular article really hits home, though. It just came to my inbox and I had to share it with those of you who are on the same path as I am, the independent filmmaker. It opened my eyes to people I am dealing with everyday, and helped me to make decisions about who I am and am not going to work with. 


GOOD IN A ROOM by Stephanie Palmer:

You know those stories where the hero is lied to, but doesn’t know it, and the best friend knows about the lie and has to decide whether or not to tell the hero?  With rare exception, the sooner the hero is told about the lie, the better.  It might hurt, but better to know the truth.
In this post, I’m playing the role of the friend, you’re the hero, and I’m hoping that you won’t be upset when I tell you:
Sometimes, the compliments you get from decision-makers about your work aren’t true.
These compliments, these times when you hear a version of “Yes,” often are lies–and what is actually being said is, “No.”
That’s why today we’re going to talk about exactly what “No,” “Maybe,” and “Yes” really sound like.


The Lie Is Told For A Reason


Decision-makers don’t tell you the truth because they are trying to protect their relationship with you.  They want you to send them your future work, so they lie in order not to hurt your feelings.
This lie is a problem for writers, directors, and producers who are taking meetings, sending out scripts, and thinking a deal is close at hand… when in reality, they’re being told “No” time and again.  Unfortunately, they keep chasing leads that aren’t there and wasting precious time.
I don’t want you to be wasting your time.  I want you to be the kind of professional who understands the subtext, knows when he or she is being told the truth, and can act accordingly.  So let’s talk about the ways that “No,” “Maybe,” and “Yes” are communicated.

“No” Is Silence Over Time


Chris Kelly, a writer for Real Time with Bill Maher wrote this in a recent article (crediting Merill Markoe):
In Hollywood, ‘no’ is silence over time. The way you find out you’re not getting the job, that they passed, that they didn’t respond to the material, that they’re going a different direction, is silence. It’s the call you don’t get.” (via Huffington Post)
Other forms of “silence over time”:
  • If you can’t get an in-person meeting at all.
  • If your emails don’t get returned in one week.
  • If your calls don’t get returned in two weeks.
  • If your script has been passed along (to a star, director, or producer), and you haven’t heard back in a month.
If you pitch to a decision-maker and they want to be in business with you, they will get in touch as soon as possible.  If you haven’t heard back, the answer (almost always) is “No.”


Unless They Pay You, The Answer Is “No”


That’s the title of John August’s Scriptnotes Episode 71.
John’s screenwriter co-host, Craig Mazin, elaborates:
Unless there’s money, the answer is no. Isn’t that terrible? And it’s so unfortunate because there’s thousands and thousands — so many wonderful, creative ways for people to say no to you. And so many of them sound like yes, which is horrifying really to contemplate, but it’s human nature. Nobody really likes saying no to somebody. Nobody wants to be mean. No one wants to see that look reflected back to them.”
If you’re not getting any money, the answer is probably “No.”


“No” Often Starts With A Compliment


When people in Hollywood say “No,” the medicine is typically accompanied by a spoonful of sugar.
Examples include:
  • “This has a lot of potential…”
  • “This is a great piece of writing…”
  • “I love the main characters…”
  • “This is hilarious…”
  • “We love it…”
If you’re getting compliments like this, they can be true, but don’t take them at face value. Most of the time, all of these compliments translate to:
“You seem like a nice person and I don’t see any reason to offend you….”


“No” Usually Ends With An Excuse


After the compliment you get the excuse:
  • “… but isn’t the right fit for us.”
  • “… but we are overbudget.”
  • “… but would be too expensive.”
  • “… but we have another project that is too similar.”
If you’re hearing reasons like these, don’t take them at face value. Most of the time, all of the reasons translate to:
“…but this isn’t good enough (yet).”


“No” = Compliment + Excuse


Most of the time when you’re getting compliments on your writing followed by an excuse about why you’re not getting any money, the actual compliments and excuses are not the truth.  The truth is that they are saying:
“You seem like a nice person and I don’t see any reason to offend you, but this isn’t good enough (yet).”
This is a hard thing to hear because we want to believe that the compliment is real because that’s something to feel good about.  We want to believe that the excuse is real because it lets us save face.
The thing to understand is that if your work was good enough, you’d at least get a “Maybe.”


“Maybe” Comes In Three Flavors


The first kind of “Maybe” is: Notes.
When someone actually takes the time to give you feedback on what you’ve done, that’s a victory.  It means that they want to be helpful and that, if you are able to make the changes, they may be willing to take another look or meet with you again.
The second kind of “Maybe” is: Stall for time.
  • “I’ll take a look at it.”
  • “Let me get back to you once I’ve had the chance to read it.”
This is a gray area, and typically means one of two things:
  • “I like you personally and don’t want to offend you, but I don’t think this is good enough yet, and I want you to send me your future projects.”
  • “My assistant will take a look at it and then tell me what he or she thinks and if the feedback is extremely positive, then I’ll take a look.”
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to decipher the difference between a “Maybe” that means “No” and a “Maybe” that means “Maybe.” The best thing to do is to follow up after an appropriate amount of time, typically two weeks.

The third kind of “Maybe” is: Let’s move this up the chain.

  • “Let’s get Matt Damon (or other Big Star) on the line right now.”
  • “Come meet my boss.”
This is a hopeful sign. It means that if the star, director, or higher-level executive is interested, then this could quickly turn into a “Yes.”


“Yes” Means Things Are About To Move Fast


“Yes” sounds like this:
  • “I’m going to have Business Affairs call your agent.”
  • “We’re going to make an offer. Wait by your phone.”
  • “I’d like to option this for [$$$].”
Remember, a great piece of material, a great pitch, a great writer—these are all very rare commodities. If a decision-maker believes that your work is that valuable, he or she is going to move quickly to sign you, buy your material, or otherwise bring you on board.

 Link to article:

Lynny Prince official site: Lynny

Friday, April 12, 2013 | By: Lynny Prince

Back to the Light

This is an ongoing short story of spiritual visits from my ancestors.

It was dark when I awoke. Beads of sweat sat upon my furrowed brow. What was my dream? A dark room and shadow people. Something about a message from Mom. I could not recall, but this incessant feeling that something was amiss nagged at my heart.

I climbed out of bed and stretched the kinks from my back.That old mattress has got to go, I thought. That thing has been around for 10years now, and it's high time to retire it, no doubt about that. I opened the bedroom door and could see the faint light of dawn through I crack in the curtains.

I walked to the front door and opened it, immediately inspired by the warmth that greeted me. The sun nudged its head above the horizon, and brilliant reds and golds flared out like magic fingers; wispy clouds floated carelessly by, intertwining with the colors and blue of the sky.

Birds sang their songs in unison, without worrying if one was out singing the other.  None off key, no two
alike. Two cardinals landed on a woodpile on the porch near the doorway. They flittered and frolicked around, dancing their spring mating dance. They had not a care in the world, and didn't even mind me standing there watching them. A cool breeze fluttered through the screen door. I felt it brush my hair and kiss my skin.

I opened the door and stepped onto the porch, and the little cardinals flew away, continuing their banter and mating ritual on a honeysuckle bush nearby. Something pulled at my nightgown and I looked down to see our cat twining his way around my legs, begging for breakfast. "In a minute"I told the calico.

The feeling here was a magical one. Marveling at God's perfection, I knew it. It was a familiar feeling, something that I felt I had recently experienced. I closed my eyes and tried to recall the dream. Nothing.I prayed silently that I would remember, because I knew it was something profoundly important. Suddenly, a crow cawed loudly, making me jump. It landed on the lower limb of the mighty maple tree that hung just above the porch. Caw,caw, caw! He was unfettered by my presence, and in fact, seemed to be urgently speaking just to me, "Remember, remember, remember!" I sat spellbound by this oddly familiar scenario. What was a crow doing sitting here speaking to me, and why did it seem so familiar? It was then I recalled the dream...

I sat among my elders, my grandparents on my Mom’s side, along with a few other grandmothers I did not recognize. “Are you ready?” My mother asked. I nodded my head, not being able to speak for some reason. We were all sitting in a room with no floor, just dirt; hard, cool and slick from years of living, walking, and laying on it. “It’s made with wood ash.” I heard someone say. “You mix wood ash and dirt together with water. Comes out like concrete.” I nodded, I had heard of that before.

“Caw, caw, caw!” A big black crow sat on an old, wooden chair. He was perched there, intent on the goings on.

“You know allot of things, you just don’t remember.” This from one of the grandmothers. “We’re here to remind ya. That’s all ya need is remindin’,”  said another.

“No gossipin’ while you make food!” One exclaimed. She had jet black hair parted in the middle and knotted at the nape of her neck. She was heavy, wore a blue calico print dress with a high lace collar, but her face reminded me of a picture of Martha Montgomery, my 4thgreat grandmother that I had seen once. She was Irish and Cherokee, born in 1868 in southeastern Kentucky.

“Caw, caaaaaaaawwww!”

“If women are talkin’ in the kitchen while ya’s cookin’ 'an the hot grease or stew or whatever you’re cookin’ pops out on ya, you best stop talkin’ about whatever it is, cause the spirits are trying to shut you up!” She said with a grin. She watched me, her black eyes steady and unblinking. She had eyes like my mom and my mom's father, I could see the resemblance clear as day. I stared back into the depths and felt the bond I had with her. “Mattie,”she told me, “Name’s Mattie.”

A slow smile spread across my face. I knew her. I collected my family’s stories for fifteen years before writing novels took all my time away from genealogy. She’d had a rough life. My grandpa’s grandpa was not a nice person. His eyes were crystal blue, a very unusual color, but they did not adorn a nice face. Mean. Of course, no one smiled in those photos from back in the day, but this was different.  He was just mean looking. She wore a look of pain and unhappiness that was obvious in those black eyes in the portrait, but that look was gone now, replaced with glints of peace and contentment. This was the girl she had been when she was younger; she had gone back to the light. I thought of the song "This Little Light of Mine," and knew instantly that was the light we go back to when we die. The young, fresh-faced people we were, before life had its way with us. Mattie had that light now. I often wished I had known her.  I thought this might be my chance.

“We’ll be back to remind ya of some more soon.”

So now, I wait. be continued.

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 ©2013 Lynny Prince