“Two production companies requested my screenplay two months ago. I’ve heard you should give them around three months. I waited two months and then sent a follow up. “Thanks for reading any feedback would be appreciated.” This was last week. Is it usual for them not to write back at all? They asked for it and I know they got it, would they not take the time to send “not for us” email?”
I saw this question on a screenwriting forum and knew there were many people who’ve had this experience and need to hear this answer. So here it goes:
Been there many, many times. What happened to the Prodco? What’s worse is when they call you back, have you in for a meeting with the President of Production and talk about how much money they want to pay you… then disappear—never to be heard from again.
In my book, I talk about this being a “gap event”. I describe gap events as times when you’re flying high following some great news and then suddenly experience major disappointment. See, if you’re walking down the street and you fall, that’s one thing. But if you’re flying through the air and you crash, that’s much worse. At least it feels much worse emotionally.
So to answer your question, this happens all the time. No, they won’t necessarily take the time to respond with a nice email. Why not? Well, the reasons are too many to name, but they range anywhere from they don’t like your script to the president of the company married Eddie Murphy and divorced him a few days later and is now no longer emotionally stable enough to oversee production, so everything has been put on hold. Really? Really. I wish I was joking. But that last event cancelled many deals in Hollywood—including one of my own.
Production companies are some of the flakiest companies around. They start up anytime someone decides they want to get into movies and they last as long as there’s money to keep the phones on. Anyone can call themselves a producer in Hollywood. There is no licensing, no rules, no oversight, no accountability. Even legitimate companies have many problems with seeing projects through. If your project does not become the pet project of one person whose going to champion it through the process, it will get lost. And yes, that’s even true if they loved it.
So what do you do? You recognize this is the way the game is played and you buckle down for the long run. What? You send your script out to other production companies, agents, managers, etc. You keep sending it and you keep calling and you don’t put your hopes all in any one basket—even if they have you in to their posh Hollywood office, serve you a cold glass bottle of Voss and tell you you’re a genius. Until the contract is signed and the check is cashed keep selling your stuff.
And one other thing: don’t let this reality discourage you. It is what it is. Sometimes a better story comes along, or an important actor shows up with a different project. Anything can distract a producer—even a drug habit or his own money problems. I wish I was in your shoes. I wish I knew this before I moved to Hollywood.