Chapter 54 – Navigating Hollywood 101: Just Say No
by Leesa Dean
Last week, a print issue of The Hollywood Reporter showed up in my mailbox. I didn’t subscribe, yet somehow got on the list. That’s right. For FREE!! The comedy gods are either smiling at or mocking me.
The first article I noticed really hit home. It was about the nearly universal way Hollywood executives reject pitches (or you, for that matter). Versus saying “no” or the old school standby, “Wow. This is great! We really really love it. Unfortunately, we’re not doing, uh, anything that involves writing this year”, instead, they just POOF! vanish into thin air. That’s right. You never hear from them. Possibly ever again. You know, kinda like, “He said (sob), he was going out for a pack of cigarettes and I NEVER HEARD FROM HIM AGAIN.” Only worse, cause it’s your career. Or, in some cases, “career”.
This applies to phone calls, emails, texts and, most notably, flinging yourself into someone’s office and begging (i.e. pitching.)
The article said that most execs don’t want to burn any bridges so their logic is, if I don’t reject you, I can always hire you sometime in the future (translation: after everyone else on planet earth realizes you’re bankable). They even interviewed a therapist, Philip Pierce, who said, “Saying no without saying no is an avoidance technique that ultimately results in increased negative emotions.” Gee, ya THINK?!
Well, I’m a pro at being rejected. I’ve been rejected so many times, I lost count a long time ago. But you know what? I’ve also had quite a few successes. Rejection is part of the gig. Bottom line: in order to get to that yes, you have to go through a million no’s (you know, the word that can not be uttered). And most people can handle it. Most people don’t lose sleep over it. At worst, it merits a couple of swigs of a good stiff drink (and, possibly, sobbing into a hanky).
It’s far far worse, and yeah, even a little humiliating to not get any response. It makes something that shouldn’t be personal, well, a little personal. Like you don’t even rate a quick email or call back…to tell you you suck.
I learned a long time ago to give people a couple of weeks. If I don’t hear anything by then, it’s time to move on cause that’s when the metaphorical expiration date happens. The one that says: Don’t call us. We’ll call you. And by “call” we mean “you’ll never hear from us again.”
So Dear Hollywood Execs, next time you feel like consciously uncalling, do the humane thing and Just Say No.