ANONYMOUS ADVICE: Irons in the Fire

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Irons in the Fire

brings together professionals from different parts of the industry to share advice they wish they had heard along their journey. We reached out to colleagues and asked them to share wisdom and experiences with an eye for advice that might shorten the trajectory of a writer or executive trying to take their to the next level. Why anonymous? We want our contributors to feel they can share openly and honestly, with the best intentions of our readers in mind, rather than with concern over judgement. These are opinions viewed through the lenses of insightful hindsight and do not necessarily represent the Tracking-Board or its partners.
Whether working the mailroom on the first day or a seasoned producer selling the next hit, each of us can look back on our past and find that bit of advice we wish we had starting out. We hope these columns can refresh us on the truisms we’ve heard before, explore the obvious ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moment, or dive deep into the hard-to-swallow words we all need to hear from time to time. None of us get it right the first time, and so these guest writers open up from their personal experiences to help shine a light for the rest of us.
Have some advice, an uplifting or eventful story you’d like to share, or need to vent? Please send ideas and credentials to [email protected]. Paid gig, if accepted and used.

Be sure to stay up to date on all previous Anonymous Advice by clicking here!

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One thing that’s grown more and more clear to me over my years in the entertainment business is that—

You’d better have patience.

Everything and everyone moves at a glacial pace. Every decision takes weeks, and even after you’ve signed a deal (if you’re lucky enough to get that far), biz affairs (lawyers) then take months to finish the paperwork.

My last two deals both took 6 months to close… after I was awarded the . Think about that for a minute. And then extrapolate that out to a movie or series actually getting made — it takes forever!

And that’s why patience is key.

I’m not a naturally patient person. I want things to happen and happen now. That’s probably how most of us are, innately. But I’ve grown accustomed to waiting because being in this business confronts you with a harsh reality: get used to time passing by without answers or get used to being absolutely miserable.

That’s not to say it gets much easier. You just learn that it’s normal and to stop doubting yourself every second of every day. The quiet doesn’t mean you didn’t get the or that you’re not talented or that your work isn’t good. The quiet just means that executives and producers are busy and/or lazy, and they take for-fucking-ever to read your material and make a decision. It’s supremely frustrating, but it’s just how it is.

So here’s what you have to do…

Keep writing.

Keep developing more material. Don’t wait for an answer to one project by just sitting there by the phone (or email). You’ve gotta keep churning out material, because the reality is, that thing you’re waiting for…? It’s probably not going to happen. Which is why—

“Irons in the fire” is the motto I live by.

Right now, I have about a dozen things I’m waiting for responses to. Some of those projects are scripts for features, one is a series, some are feature pitches. All are projects I’m excited about, but as many as all of them may never happen.

So what am I doing?

I’m working on the next project—a spec feature. Something I’m passionate and excited about. Another iron in the fire that I believe in. Another project most, if not all, of this town will say “no” to, but another opportunity to make fans by writing the shit out of it.

They can only say “no” to so many projects. Eventually, after seeing your name a bunch of times and reading a bunch of your scripts, someone will take a chance on your material. They’ll get behind you and push alongside you. And then, maybe, you’ll have a shot at getting something on the big (or small) screen.

But that will never happen if you have just one project. One feature or series pilot you think is amazing. Because honestly, it probably isn’t amazing. Most people aren’t writing scripts worthy of being made until they’ve written a bunch of failed scripts. Pick any Hollywood screenwriting heavyweight—I promise you they have a stack of scripts this town took a shit on. But then, after toiling away for years, putting iron after iron in the fire, they wrote one worthy of success.

That’s the reality of this business.

So what’s the moral of this story?

Keep writing and be proactive.
Have multiple projects on your slate and keep adding to it.
Be patient. These things take time to unfold.
Don’t let failure stop you or you’re doomed already.
We all fail. Those who succeed are relentless.
The executive or producer who said “no” to you today could be the same one who makes your film years from now.
Keep making fans by being prolific.

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Enjoy Anonymous Advice? Be sure to stay up to date on all previous articles here!

Have some advice, an uplifting or eventful story you’d like to share, or need to vent? Please send ideas and credentials to [email protected]. Paid gig, if accepted and used.

brings together professionals from different parts of the industry to share advice they wish they had heard along their journey. We reached out to colleagues and asked them to share wisdom and experiences with an eye for advice that might shorten the trajectory of a writer or executive trying to take their to the next level. Why anonymous? We want our contributors to feel they can share openly and honestly, with the best intentions of our readers in mind, rather than with concern over judgement. These are opinions viewed through the lenses of insightful hindsight and do not necessarily represent the Tracking-Board or its partners.

Whether working the mailroom on your first day or a seasoned producer selling their next hit, each of us can look back on our past and find that bit of advice we wish we had starting out. We hope these columns can refresh us on the truisms we’ve heard before, explore the obvious ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moment, or dive deep into the hard-to-swallow words we all need to hear from time to time. None of us get it right the first time, and so these guest writers open up from their personal experiences to help shine a light for the rest of us.

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