Sunday, July 20, 2008
Memo from Dr. No
I have become a master at rejection. With an average of four pitches out in the world at any given time, I hear, “no,” a dozen times a year. While it’s a little disappointing, it’s never discouraging. I would be discouraged if I believed others held the key, blocking my success. I learned long ago that I can’t expect any network or development executive to be more sincere about making my dreams come true than I.
For the last ten years of my pitching experience, development windows of opportunity have opened and closed more times than I can count. No one opportunity was THE opportunity. Almost none of the gatekeepers (development executives) I pitched to ten years ago are still in place at their original networks––many of them have left the business all together. I’ve seen trends and fads change, rise, and fall year-to-year. After a decade, I am the only consistent element in my pitching career.
It’s no shock that development executives say, “no,” more than 99% of the time. Most projects aren’t as good as we artists think they are. Besides, even when we have a good pitch, we show it in crumbs, trying to convince an executive that the three-coarse-meal will be delicious. When they say, “no,” we take our projects somewhere else, and when we collect enough “no’s,” we put those pitches to bed. In this action, we make the executives right. But, what about those projects that won't let us walk away?
My two most current pitches are redeveloped versions of two projects I pitched in 2000 and 2005. The image above are the designs from one of my current repitches with co-creator Dale Clowdis. The time away has allowed me to view these pitches with fresh eyes and lavish them with the attention I wasn’t able (or capable) of giving them the first time around. The revolving door of development executives allows me to bring these pitches back to networks that might have rejected them the first time around. Besides, the only risk I face is a fresh set of, “no’s.”
A fear of hearing, “no,” is an example of bad fear. It's the kind of fear that keeps one from their dreams. Most every vital band, movie, TV show, and book ever created was turned down dozens of times before finding a home. John B. Sebastian, of the Lovin’ Spoonful, said that his band was turned down so many times that with each rejection it taught the band that they were on to something––“Because the record companies couldn’t dig it.”
Collect a “no,” or two and join the club.