Search form

CUT OFF AT THE PASS

If you’re a writer you are familiar with the word. You just wrote an Academy Award-quality screenplay or an Emmy-quality series development, put together a solid pitch, gave it to the producer or exec with passion, and he or she responded with the most painful one-word epithet in the English language—Pass.

If you’re a writer you are familiar with the word. You just wrote an Academy Award-quality screenplay or an Emmy-quality series development, put together a solid pitch, gave it to the producer or exec with passion, and he or she responded with the most painful one-word expletive in the English language—Pass

My last blog posts were about the pitch. This one is about the pass.

I find it odd that Hollywood uses sports terms to describe the beginning and end of the creative process. You pitch (baseball) your idea to a player and if he or she doesn’t like it they pass (football). Unless they like it, in which case you get a deal (poker). Personally, I think bowling would make a better analogy. You bowl your idea and if they don’t like it you get a turkey.

Back at the pass...

I have a very strong viewpoint about the nature of the pass. I have received (football) many of them. There are two types of passes: helpful and unhelpful. It is vital that you know the difference.

The helpful pass will come from someone who possess knowledge of the audience or of the elements and structure of a good story. From this person, after the pass, you may get some useful information regarding how to improve your story or series idea from a structural or creative viewpoint. Or you may get some valid data about how your pitch doesn’t meet the buyer’s and/or the audience’s requirements.

The unhelpful pass will come from someone who possess no knowledge of the audience or of what makes a good story or series. What they do possess is enormous ego. With this species the rule is simple: Ignore every word after he or she utters, “Pass.” Because every word will be just an expression of opinion. They simply don’t like the idea and don’t really know why. But they would never dare tell you that.  So what they tell you will generally be gobbledygook that justifies their brilliance in giving your property a pass. Believe me, it can really mess with your head and send you off into a creative tailspin if you buy into it.

My advice to all writers is to be suspect of everyone’s creative suggestions, even if they are a friend or pro. Investigate their ideas. If they are informational, make sure they are true. If they are creative, be sure that they make sense to you. This way you will be able to apply them to a rewrite or a revision of your pitch.

Just because an exec or agent or producer says something doesn’t make it true. If that were the case I’d be a know-nothing #!&*@$! (used in all sports).

​©Jeffrey Scott, All Rights Reserve
 
Tags