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December 09, 2008

The Power of "No."

Recently a screenwriting friend of mine landed a very well placed manager. It was a big deal. But then my friend wrote an awesome new screenplay and the manager didn't like it. The manager said, "It was a good exercise, but you need to write something new." After checking with a number of other trusted people over whether the script is good, and getting confirmation that it is, my friend made a difficult decision.

The manager had to go.

This was a gutsy decision. And it rocks because it shows that he's not desperate, at all. He has the confidence that someone else will pay attention to him, and he doesn't need to hang on to someone that isn't a good fit.

Just today I had to say "No" to people who expressed interest in me. It's never easy, but again, it's a skill that needs to be developed. In this case, these were producers who sent me an option offer on two of my scripts. Unfortunately, the offers were not what I wanted at all. The option term was too long, the money offered for the money was too low, and it specified a purchase price should they be able to set the project up when I'd want to be able to negotiate my own deal at that point. (Or, have my agent do that for me.)

The producers told me that this was a standard offer for a first time writer. And I understand that, but it's also a bad decision. One that desperate people who so badly want some kind of positive attention would make. So as awkward as the conversation was (and unfortunately it was rather strange because they were not happy that I wasn't eager to take their deal!), I have no doubt that I did the right thing. And I'm so glad that the instructors at UCLA do a great job warning their writers about the bad deals that flow through Hollywood like the River Nile...

Posted by jason on December 9, 2008 07:47 PM


Dude I thought you were telling us you were dropping your agent - so soon after landing him! I'm proud of you for saying No!

Posted by: Jonathan on December 9, 2008 09:25 PM

That took GUTS. Way to go.

Posted by: Anonymous on December 9, 2008 10:15 PM

Good for you, Jase! Don't settle, you don't have to. The right offer is out there, and you'll have it at the right time.

Posted by: kathiek on December 9, 2008 11:52 PM

Was the term "buffet brothers" used at all in the discussion? Cause that usually makes it awkward.

Glad that you kept your dignity; you're right, there are too many artists who don't have enough self-respect or patience to wait for the best.

Posted by: Jessica on December 10, 2008 01:50 AM


Posted by: paul on December 10, 2008 07:04 AM

Good job, Jase---

Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life;
love her—she keeps her eye on you. Prov 4.6

Posted by: Mom on December 10, 2008 07:49 AM

and never walk away from Darby; she loves you, and she keeps her eye on you too!

Posted by: Jessica on December 10, 2008 12:24 PM

Pretty amazing that you nailed down an agent just before this offer came in. You probably wouldn't have taken it anyway, but having the legitimacy of an agent upps your confidence even more. I wonder if the producers might counter-offer now that you've shown you're not naive and insecure.

Posted by: Pop on December 10, 2008 02:53 PM

Might be obvious, but if they were unhappy and disapproving, they must have really wanted your screenplays. Now you can sell those screenplays more on your terms. Congrats on holding out for an agent and saying no at the right time. It is a blessing to be able to say no.

Posted by: Mike on December 10, 2008 03:14 PM

You should try an experiment and just say "No" to every question in your life for one week regardless of what the question is and who is asking it. Then you will really understand the power of NO.

Producer: "Can I interest you in giving me your great screenplay for nothing?"
Jase "No."

Oliver: "Can I stay up late tonight and drink hot chocolate while I jump on the couch?"
Jase: "No."

Lyric: "Can you help me with my homework?"
Jase: "No."

Darby: "How about a little **romance**?"
Jase: "No"

Darby: "How about if I throw in a little bit of peanut butter?"
Jase: "BAAA!!! I Can't take it anymore!!! I just can't handle the power of 'No.'"

Posted by: The Sage on December 10, 2008 03:22 PM

jase, somebody's got your number...

Posted by: Jessica on December 11, 2008 12:35 AM

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