They Said “No.” Now What?

In a prior post, I discussed asking for the rights to material.

What happens when your ask is met with a “No”?

First, take a deep breath. Let out any frustration you may feel. When you’ve sufficiently processed, remind yourself that you’re not surprised by this response. The rights to good material, especially if it’s a new play and in Los Angeles, are often very hard to get.

Then after sitting with the “No” for a couple of days, ask yourself if you’re still passionate about this material. If the answer is a resounding “Yes!”, then make a gameplan to turn that “No” into a “Yes.” This should include writing a classy, personal response. Thank the agent or publisher for their consideration. Let them know that you love this material and you intend to check back with them every three to six months.

Then, check back. Let them know what you’re up to and that you’re still extremely passionate about the material. Perhaps draft a personal letter to the writer and ask that they forward it on. (Bonus points if you can sleuth the writer’s email address and send directly.)

Over time, you’ll either get the rights or you won’t. (Or you’ll have moved on to another project.) But no matter what, you can feel good that you gave it your best effort.

Remember, when making art, one of your most important jobs is to enlist others on your journey. To convince them that this project is worth giving their time and effort to. That starts with the playwright (or screenwriter if you’re making a film). You do that in your actions. In your consistency of effort. In your taste and tenacity.

That’s what will define you as a producer.

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