I was at the Austin Film Festival pitching a script to an agent at one of the top agencies.  The script I was pitching was my baby, a screenplay I’d worked really hard on.  I pitched it with energy and heart.  I had a feeling I’d nailed it!

And then she spoke.

I still remember her words: “I’m sorry hon’, that’s a dink for me.”  I think she said “dink”.  It might have been “ding”.  It didn’t matter.  This was a genuine authority, a powerful agent.  And my story was a flop.  And not just as executed.  My whole idea was a flop!

A year later that screenplay won a Nicholl Fellowship.

That same woman ended up taking me out for breakfast, at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills. 

I ordered an egg white frittata. 

It was tasty.

Don’t let anyone discourage you.


Years later, I had a meeting with an Oscar-winning producer to pitch for a job.  The job was a paid writing assignment, to adapt a popular children’s book into a feature film. 

My challenge was to pitch my take on the adaptation to this producer, a whip smart, highly accomplished woman.  If she liked what she heard, the plan was for both of us to take the pitch to an independent financier the next day.

I really wanted to work with her.  I had to get this right.

So I asked around about the different ways to pitch this kind of project.  I was given advice to make a series of storyboards outlining my story.  I jumped on the advice and spent hours preparing a dozen illustrated storyboards. 

I practiced my pitch over and over.

And in I went to this woman’s office.

And the first thing she said was: “No. No storyboards.”

She didn’t like them – too formal.  I had to wing it.  I got through the pitch anyway.  And she liked it.  Well, half of it. 

She wanted me to redo the other half.  Half a storyline for a feature film!  Over night.  So we could pitch the new version the very next day!  I’m not talking about pitching a logline here.  I’m talking about a full-on twenty-minute synopsis. 

But here’s the thing:

Her feedback made sense.  It was constructive.  She had reasons for the changes she wanted, and her reasoning was sound.

So I stayed up all night and revised half the treatment, and in the morning we pitched the new story to the finance guy.

In the end, we didn’t get the financing.  But this producer was now on my side.  And we ended up taking that pitch to Sony, Universal, Fox and DreamWorks.  I got to meet a half dozen studio execs in one day.

If I’d said no to this producer, if I’d said, you’re wrong, I’m right, I’m not staying up all night, I never would have had that opportunity.

Don’t let the challenges discourage you.

This screenplay business, it’s harder than you think.

But you can do it.