Sending Off Your First Screenplay

Saturday, I sent off an excerpt of my first screenplay. I’m counting it this way because although I sold some scripts back in the 80’s, it was to a local independent film company trying to get established called “Two Guys Productions”, and I think it was more that my script was something that was currently popular in action films, inexpensive to film, and would give the company a product they could market – rather than the quality of my script.

But Saturday, I sent an excerpt off, not trying to sell my script, but to sell me. A new film company had put out the word they were looking for a screenplay writer, and I jumped on it.

So I sent Empty Hand, the life story of Gichin Funakoshi. It’s a drama, not a karate movie. Although there are scenes of Funakoshi training under Asato, there is no competition, no sparring, no dramatic fights. Funakoshi to my knowledge never once struck a man in anger. Those who knew him said it was a VERY good thing he never did, as it would have been terrible, even though he was a small man.

I finished up a few pages of it on Friday, sent off the excerpt (along with scenes from my books) to the film company. I felt good enough to take a couple of hours off, and sit and play Age of Empires.

Then the jitters hit. See, when you’re sending off your work for someone to decide if they’re going to hire you or not, or buy your product or not, the feeling is tantamount to, “Are you accepting me, or rejecting me?”

Rejection is terrible. Trust me, I know. You always get this feeling of “I don’t love you” when you get it.

But I’m sitting here lying to myself, because of the two scenes I sent off, one of them was the wrong scene. So now I’m sitting here and cheerfully telling myself I’ve hit a career milestone, and am eagerly anticipating my first rejection letter.

After all, every screenplay writer has been rejected at least once. I can think of one who actually was hired to write a movie because he’d done a script or two that was sold, and his script was deemed too strange, and it was promptly sent to another writer.

The director sat on the second script, and after a couple of years, felt that there was something unique about that script. He went back, and took all of the “Weird” parts of the first script, mixed it with the “Normal” parts of the second script, and one of my favorite movies was the result – “Patton”.

Or how about this story? A man writes his first movie script, in a genre that hadn’t been done in 30 years in Hollywood. The studios shuffled it around to see if anyone had interest, and the answer was no, because that Genre was dead.

Then they gave it to an actor best known for action movies. He too passed on it. But it was stuck in his mind. After an aide asked that actor what his next project was, he answered, “I don’t know, but I’ve got this script…”

And “Braveheart” was born in that moment.

So, I’m betting my future on ten pages and a single line of dialogue sitting at the end of a script excerpt: “I am still a Samurai, father.”

So, I’m anticipating my first rejection letter, and trying not to waste my weekend jittering and being unable to relax.


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