We’ve all read articles that list the most important things you should do in Hollywood. We’ve read about writing advice, networking tips and meeting preparation. We’ve seen one ‘Must Do List’ after another. But what about all the things you should absolutely avoid? What are the pitfalls you need to watch out for? Let’s talk about those.
No 1. — Quit
Rejection is a part of Hollywood. It’s a part of writing. That’s the Game. It’s painful but there’s no way around it: everyone who has ever made it has gotten rejected at some point…but they kept at, and eventually they got their movie made.
Don’t quit. You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it gets repeated because it’s absolutely the number one most important thing about writing. Don’t. Give. Up.
No. 2 – Say No To Opportunities
One of my favorite mentors, writer Josh Brand, told me the story of how his critically-acclaimed television show Northern Exposure got made. He said YES.
The opportunity he was offered wasn’t that appealing at first. It was a summer run for a show about a fish-out-of-water doctor who goes to live in Alaska. Not exactly something you’d naturally jump at the chance to do. But he had a policy: say yes. Even if you’re not sure it’s a great idea. And the show turned out to be a hit.
So: say yes. Be open. Grab those opportunities when they come your way.
No. 3 – Be A Perfectionist
Almost every writer is tempted at one point to indulge their inclination toward perfectionism. Once you say something’s finished, you’ll have to show it people; once they see it, they’ll start to judge it; once they judge it, you could get a painful rejection.
Everyone wants their work to be perfect. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty much impossible. Make your work great, polish it, then send it out. Don’t let the mirage of perfection sabotage your chances of getting your movie made.
No. 4 — Be Difficult To Work With
Filmmaking is a collaborative business. You’ll have to work with others. You probably aren’t going to agree on everything all the time. That’s life.
You don’t want to be the writer who gets a reputation for being difficult to work with—it’s an easy path to failure. Producers and directors want writers who are willing and able to listen and compromise.
No. 5 – Chase The Market
Writing to current trends is a terrible way to create. By the time a trend appears, it’s already off the radar for most producers and directors. They want well-written work, not reworkings of movies that are currently in theatres. Don’t chase the market. Focus on the stories that really matter to you—and then YOU can set the trends!
What are your favorite ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’ for Hollywood? Sound off in the comments!