Sunday, September 14, 2014

Red Light, Green Light

As the recipient of many a rejection letter, I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing when I’m about to get the heave-ho.

The language is always polite and supportive, but the message is still the same: scram.

And yet I always read every word on the outside chance that the latest letter may be the one that says “Yes” after all those “Nos.”

I try to stay positive, I really do, but when I saw an email from Project Greenlight in my inbox the other day, I got that old familiar feeling.

Project Greenlight is a TV show produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, among others, that gives first-time filmmakers a chance to direct a feature film.

The deadline to submit entries came up in August, on the very night before I was going to fly out to Colorado. I was sorely tempted to flag it: I had too much to do, my entry wasn’t top notch, I'm too old, and, the old standby—I didn’t have a chance in hell of winning.

Excuses? I’ve got a million of ‘em.

But this time I decided to rewrite that script. I’m always letting things slip by, saying I’ll get it to later, but never admitting to myself that “later” has this sneaky way of turning into “never.”

I had a video I had shot in my director’s class at the School of Visual Arts class two summers ago. (Jesus, already?)

It was crudely edited, with some rough spots that made my wince, but the idea of not submitting anything made me wince even more. Screw it. The dialog was good, if I say so myself, and the two actors in the scene gave off a lot of energy.

A few clicks later I was officially in the running and ready to enjoy my vacation.

I had pretty much forgotten about the submission until I got that email. Perhaps I was a finalist in the competition, the first step in the march towards wealth and fame. I moved my cursor over the message, paused a second, and then clicked.

Bourne Loser

On behalf of the Project Greenlight team,” the email began, “we would like to thank you for submitting your film to our director's contest.”

Okay, so far, so good…


Here it comes…

“--your submission did not make it to the Top 200,” the message continued. “With thousands of videos submitted for consideration, the competition was fierce.”

I wasn’t feeling particularly fierce at that moment. I mean, hell, I couldn’t even crack the Top 200?

Please know that your film was carefully considered by the Greenlight community, where each video was viewed and judged.”

I’ll take your word for it. Now I'm going to carefully consider if I want to jump off the Chrysler Building.

Do not be discouraged by this decision,” the email concluded. “Project Greenlight was created for you, so please continue to support the community so we can hold more contests like this one.

Discouraged, me? It's just one more addition to add to the growing ranks of rejection.

And at least I made the effort to enter the competition, instead of coming up with an excuse.

As I soon as read the last line my phone rang. I thought it was Matt Damon calling up to apologize for the mistake and to assure me that the limo was on its way to take me to the studio.

But this guy didn’t sound at all like Good Will Hunting.

You’ve just won a fabulous cruise to Bermuda,” a creepily jovial robovoice informed me.

What's this--a consolation prize? Your dreams of becoming a famous filmmaker have been dashed to itty bits and pieces, but here’s this lovely parting gift.

Please press one...”

I hung up the phone. Please don’t be discouraged, but I’m not interested in your bogus cruise.

Unless Matt Damon’s going…


Ron said...

"And at least I made the effort to enter the competition..."

That's right, Rob, at least you made the effort and I applaud you for that!

It's just like when I was still acting and would get a series of rejections and be discouraged. But then things would turn around and I would go through periods of getting everything I had auditioned for. So keep the faith, buddy, and keep sending your work out there because I know it's going to happen for you.

And do you know why? Because you're VERY talented, that's why.

And I can just see the film credits:

Film: written and directed by Rob K

Produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

I have to say that the letter they sent you was thoughtful and very encouraging. It sounds like a nice and considerate group of people.

Great post. And I love the photographs you used!

Have a super week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, what's going on?

Thanks so much for your encouraging words. As you well know, this rejection business can be rather disheartening at times.

I like your vision, too, that uncanny ability to see my film's credits.

But you forget to mention one very important credit: "Staring the Incredible Ron from Philadelphia!!"

Now that's a film I'd pay to see!

Thanks again, buddy, take care, and have a great week!

See you at the movies!

CrystalChick said...

I'm impressed not only that you took the class but that you followed through with a submission to Project Greenlight. You're only one of a few thousand people on the planet that can say that, right? Out of millions and millions of people, you got your script reviewed!!
Okay, so you were 201. If they could have just taken one more, it would have surely been yours!!

This is a still a success! You are very talented, Rob! NO jumping! ;)

Bijoux said...

Well, damn. But at least you have the satisfaction of trying. I'm glad they sent out letters instead of just ignoring the entries that didn't win. Top 200? How many entries do you think they receive?

Rob K said...

Yeah, Bijoux, they really did their best to let you down easy. They say they get thousands of submissions and I'm sure that's true.

And there's always next year!

Rob K said...

@CrystalChick: Oh, thanks, Mary, that's so kind of you.

I like your positive attitude and I'm going to do my best to emulate it.

I'll start by staying away from the Chrysler Building!

Take care!