Rejected

Usually I have a witty caption: Tonight? Nothing.

About a year ago I wrote a pilot for a TV series. The idea was that I’d make a serious attempt at getting into the entertainment industry (I didn’t learn my lesson from college). I Took a few solid weeks to storyboard, research and draft. Once the first draft was done I set it aside and spent a week focusing on developing long term story arcs. After that I rewrote the first draft and tooled it to line up with the first set of story arcs. I took another week away from the script following the second draft, to recharge and give myself an opportunity to look at the writing (and story) from a fresh angle; after, one of two reactions occur, “hooray this is awesome” or, “who the fuck wrote this and no wonder they’re going nowhere.” Then I Do a third rewrite or scrap the project and move from there. It’s a highly refined and over developed creative process.

When I get it right it takes about a month to complete a project from scratch. In this case it was a cleverly crafted pilot episode, first draft of the second episode and first season 6 episode story arc. It was also my first full foray into writing something for television.

After some more research I finally found a production company based in Canada that accepts material from people who don’t have agent representation. I would have included letters with hearts and mints in the envelope if it were a mail-in submission, anything to increase my chances (I’m assuming you saw the title of the post and know where this is going). So I typed up a submission and sent off the first episode and the series outline.

And waited.

After a week or so, I got the clever idea to start work on a second idea I had been tossing around; this one involving temporary workers stealing technology (and anything not bolted down) from a large company run by number crunching douchebags – testing the limits of how far they could go without being caught or fired. At its core it was a disposable hero story. When I got to the “hooray or rejected” stage, the story ended up in the rejected bin.

So I continued to wait.

11 months later an email pops into my inbox from the production company. I wasn’t shocked to hear that they wouldn’t be starting production on my show this year; by this point it was a foregone conclusion, I just assumed that someone read it, laughed at the uneducated Canuck and went on their way approving scripts from friends and industry vets. What got me was that despite being rejected, my ambitions for the project were almost spot on: They agreed on the network, the target audience, the anticipated series run and a few minor details I can’t recall at this hour. The basis for their rejection was part of the foregone conclusion I came to terms with during my 11 month wait; the subject matter of the series completely contrasted the delivery, which proved too much of a risk. Lowbrow base, highbrow execution. And the network I was aiming at had recently cancelled a show that had close to the same subject matter as the pilot. Which I had no idea about at the time.

The best part of all this is that with 11 months to get over the rejection, I’m actually motivated and have been writing a lot more lately. Rejection has this funny way of motivating.

I figure if I keep trying to beat down that door eventually someone will let me in. I could also send that pilot to a few other companies, but I think I want to rewrite it and load two series into the chamber before testing the waters again.

~J

Advice Content: Don’t be defeated by rejection. Period. Sure it’s hard, but things worth having are typically tough to get.

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