Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Back to the drawing board...

It's funny how I logged on with the idea of writing a completely different post than the one I'm about to write; I'd had a rather eventful holiday and I've got lots of fantastic news about the status of my Battlestar Script.

It seemed like I was in the right mindset to talk for pages about characters and cool scenes that I was proud of and ideas that were running rampant through my head. I'd been bubbling over with excitement as it seemed that I'd finally worked myself into writing shape, training myself to wake up at 6-6:30 AM so that I can start a morning writing regime. There were so many things I was going to say here today.

And then this came:

Dear Brandon,

I want to thank you for submitting Savage Knights to us here at Space. Unfortunately, I’m writing to let you know that we are going to pass on the project.

While I have enjoyed reading both the script and the detailed bible, I felt the show carried too broad a series-wide storyline and a lot of characters and mythological content (both previously known myths and series-specific creations) that would appeal to an older viewership.

At the moment we’re trying to aim for material that can be a bit more stand-alone and appeal to a casual viewer, who may drop in midway through a series and who is a little bit younger. While there is lots of good action that keeps the pace up I think a program like this will ultimately be of interest to an older set.

Thank you again for your interest and best of luck with the project. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have anything else you’d like to send our way for consideration.

Best wishes,
Fraser Robinson

So, there are two ways I can take something like this - it is my very first rejection letter after all. I'm not going to go into the options because, well, we all know what they are.

The truth is I'm actually Happy. Yep. I said it. I'm happy.

Savage Knights is the culmination of so many 'firsts' for me that I can't help but be happy. It's my first screenplay, my first bible, my first series - it inspired me to learn the craft (still learning) and pushed me to better my writing skills. It helped me find something I was passionate about after spending most of my 27 years wandering aimlessly out of college and stumbling from job to job.

My work was enjoyed.

Now you can say it's a platitude, you can be as cynical as you want, but a man who reads countless screenplays for a living not only read the ENTIRETY of my pilot script (105 pages) but the entirety of my show bible as well. How can I not be pleased with that?

In truth he's actually helped me in a way - a chunk of my mind has been wondering about this, wondering if I should apply to the CFC, "What if my show gets picked up?" Now, I know you should never turn your back on a chance at educating yourself but the idea that I could, maybe, possibly get a green light... well, it's that longshot hope that'd been my only excuse not to put 100% into my application. "Maybe I won't need to."

But I know that's a foolish train of thought, I know it's only self-destructive in the end. Sometimes reckless hope can be a bad thing. Bridling it, harnessing it - while still clinging to reality - well, I guess that's the trick isn't it?

I've responded to his email in the hopes that even in rejection I can find something that will push me further, will help me to grow more than what is offered at the base of it.

Hey, you never know if you don't ask, right?

Hi Fraser,

Thank you very much for your response. Even though I'm disappointed to hear this I have to say that I'm quite happy that you enjoyed my work.

Savage Knights is my first attempt at writing a Script and Bible so, though I know I still have much to learn, I'm glad to know that I'm on the right track.

I was wondering - if it's not too much trouble - if I might ask you for some feedback in regards to this project that I hope will help me in the future as I work to develop other, new projects.

What did you enjoy most about the pilot/bible?
Did you like any of the characters in particular?
What did you not like or feel was the weakest aspect?

Do you have any advice, as someone who reads alot of scripts and works in the development process, for me as I work to break out as a Canadian Television Writer?

Now that I know what you are looking for, I have a couple other concepts that I've been working on in my spare time - however, I'm currently working quite hard to apply for the CFC's Prime Time Television Program.

Perhaps once the application is sent off at the end of January I might approach you with these other ideas?

Thank you very much,
Brandon Laraby

Perhaps the best thing about this is what he didn't say. He didn't say "This was utter garbage and you've wasted my time." He didn't say "Go into Business, you'll never make it as a writer."

He basically said "This is good, it's just not for us right now."

And I think that gives me a lot to be happy about.



Stephen said...

Hey, Brandon - I found your blog via Denis McGrath's, and I've been very interested in following your journey, because it's so similar to my own (except in my case you need to add almost a decade and a lot more detours).

I just wanted to say that I think you're absolutely correct in your reaction, and in your follow-up email to Fraser Robinson.

My impression -- not knowing Mr. Robinson at all, but having seen a rejection letter or two in my time -- is that he was indeed leaving the door open for you.

A generic form rejection would have thanked you for your submission, and said it didn't meet their current needs.

He told you he enjoyed your submission, and told you what their current needs are.

That's a fantastic outcome, and a follow-up was a damn good idea.


Halifax TV/Film said...

Hi there, I also came across your blog through Denis's. I'm with Stephen in that I think you've done very well in that your proposal was read by someone at Space and they gave you feedback. I don't know if Diane Bohme is still at Space but her footprints are all over this. She set the bar as far as submissions to broadcasters go; she always read proposals, and gave reasons for the nay back to the submitter. Many other networks don't even pay lip-service to this process.

And Stephen is also right when he says you should be extremely happy that Mr. Robinson said he liked your script. Remember this guy probably sees a lot coming over the transom and he didn't send you a generic rejection letter. And he gave you a "why". They're looking at a different demographic and less of a serial foremat. This is invaluable information for a writer. Saves a lot of time and bother for everybody if you're going down the wrong track.

So anyway, keep up the good work. I recommend Steve Martin's latest book for a story on tenacity. Don't know if I'd recommend going as far as he did in the Canadian television market but it does show that dedication, hard work and persistence pays off.

Good luck in your future works.