by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
The other day a friend was griping about being told NO by studio executives after he pitched them a show idea. He was really upset, and needed to vent.
In the back of my mind, I’m screaming, “You Got to Pitch a Show!”
One of the greatest entertainment industry experiences I’ve had so far was when I got to pitch my own television series to two of the cable networks.
The difference between his pitch and my pitch was that he got an answer.
For my friend he received the answer of “No.” For me, I didn’t get any answer at all.
After weeks went by I had to write e-mails and make phone calls until I finally discovered that they had chosen to “pass” on my show. Somehow everyone else knew that both networks had passed on my project except me. They didn’t tell me.
‘Pass’ is another word for ‘No.’
A ‘No’ hurts, but not hearing anything hurts a whole lot more.
I have waited days, weeks, and even months to receive answers from story submissions, art consideration, and even job interviews.
This is one of those places where “no news is good news” doesn’t work. For one reason or another, the person you made contact with just doesn’t get back to you. Yes, a lot of them are busy and even their assistants don’t have the time to respond to every entry that is sitting in their slush pile of scripts, art samples, and resumes. Others however truly don’t like to say ‘no’. That makes them the bad guy, and they don’t want that. If I don’t respond, just take it as a ‘pass’, I don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Whether that’s true for all of them or not, I don’t know. But a form letter would be nice from time to time. At that least that tells me that my manuscript made it to your office. And if it required coverage, there might be a check mark next to the reason you chose to ‘pass’.
It’s an answer.
It might not be the answer you’re wanting, but it is an answer.
Anything beyond a form letter with even the smallest explanations of why they said ‘no’ is also not what you want to receive, but it is what you need to receive.
Now that you have an answer, learn from it, so the next time you submit – whether it's the same pitch or not – you will be better than you were before.
Next, here comes the part where I will freely admit I’m not good at:
Get an answer! Follow up.
Write a brief thank you message to whomever you just met with: the studio executive or the hiring manager, or whoever it. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you and briefly remind them what it was about.
After a couple of weeks if you haven’t heard back, write another short note. Reminding them of you and your project, and you hope to meet with them again whether it is on this or another.
As I admitted, I’m not good at this, but I do my best. My networking skills need improvement, but the only way to improve is to do.
Don’t be rude, but fight to get an answer.
So “Take No for an answer.” Learn from it, find out what they didn’t like. Improve upon it for the next pitch, interview, drawing, or audition. Turn it around and make their next answer to you a ‘YES’.