A few days back, Adrian Mead posted a piece on Shooting People about writers who unrealistically demand a reply to their unsolicited screenplay submissions. It’s a good post and, as far as I know, makes sense.
Anyway, a couple of days later, a writer posted a response about how unprofessional it is when producers/directors who have requested your script then fail to get back to you. Which I thought was also a good post.
Personally, I tend to fall somewhere in between these two points of view. I don’t expect a reply from anyone (mostly because I worry too much about my email not actually working); however, I think it does depend on circumstances.
If you’ve sent an unsolicited script to someone, why should they reply to you? You’re a door to door salesman who’s jammed his foot in someone’s door. Piss off.
If, on the other hand, you’ve responded to a script call or sent a query which has received a reply and a request for the script, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hear a thanks, but no thanks reply. Now you’re a salesman who’s been invited into the home only to find they won’t let you in and are hiding behind the couch.
On another, third hand, this is what happens, learn to deal with it. The ones who reply are no more professional than the others, just a bit nicer.
When I receive one of these brush offs I send a quick reply thanking them for their time and wishing them luck with their project. I like to be nice, but that’s just me.
Having said all of that, I occasionally rail against the people who love the script, want to make it, pay me some money and then disappear. What the fuck is that about?
Erm, hello? I’ve got your money. You gave me some money, can I spend it? Is anyone there? Okay, I’m going to spend it now, let me know if that’s wrong.
Anyway, the original few posts sparked a flurry of debate (a small flurry) and I was just mulling this over when I realised who the second poster was. She emailed in July last year and asked if I would read her script.
This happens to me a lot, does anyone else get this? Why are people turning to me for advice? It’s nice and it’s ego-flattering, but it’s just plain weird. Why me? Who the fuck am I?
I agreed, I’m nice like that, and wrote her a page or so detailing what I thought of it and in response I heard…
I sent a prodding email a few days later, just a quickie: How’s tricks? How are you getting on with your script? Were any of my comments useful/hurtful/just plain wrong?
And still no response.
Funny that. Mind you, it’s probably something to do with my increasingly random email service. Or is it? I’ve been developing a new theory. Years ago, when I had to hide behind the sofa when the phone rang in case it was the bank…
Yes, I know they can’t see over the phone, but you never know.
Whenever I absolutely had to send out a cheque on pain of arrest, I would write a nice letter saying ‘here is your cheque’, put the letter (without a cheque) in an envelope, seal it and tear it in half. I’d then post the half with the stamp on. The Post Office would deliver the torn envelope in a plastic bag and apologise for tearing the letter in their machine.
Hey presto! Another few weeks’ grace.
Maybe the ‘if I ignore them, they’ll think there’s something wrong with their email’ excuse is just an electronic version of ‘it’s in the post’?