WHY DON'T THEY LOVE ME?
If there's one thing I have learned in fifteen years of writing, it's this: no one really knows what the hell they're talking about all the time. No one. Not execs. Not agents. Not managers. Not producers. Not actors. Not writers. Not people who cover scripts. Not even Steven Spielberg (have you seen 1941, or The Terminal?). The woman giving you a back hair laser treatment knows as much as any of us. A lot of people know what they're talking about some of the time, but never all of the time.
How is that possible?
Because everyone has a different idea of what a "good" script is. I remember reading a spec script (that shall remain nameless) a few years ago that had been bought by a studio for a million dollars. That's big, big money. My agent gave it to me, and said, "write something like this." So, I took it home, read twenty pages, and wanted to have my head examined by a Black & Decker variable speed drill.
I thought it was terrible.
Now, I'm not saying that every script that sells for a million dollars is bad. Quite the contrary. They're usually pretty well written. But, not always. Typically who wrote it has more to do with something selling, than what the script is about. Execs buy scripts from proven writers to cover their ass. It's easier to sell a Judd Apatow movie than one from some dude no one has ever heard of. Things heat up considerably when more than one studio or producer wants a script. And, if the movie bombs, the exec can say, "it was an Apatow movie, who thought it wouldn't open?" Well, if the script sucked, the trailer likely sucked, the performances likely sucked... you get the point.
That said, people who have never tied their shoes in Los Angeles can sell something. It happens. So, don't start crying and quit. Not yet. People not knowing what the hell is good, and what isn't, can work in your favor as well. I've had scripts go out to forty buyers (major and mini studios, financiers) and half of them think it's crap, and half thought it was good. All you need is for a few of them to love it, and think it's great. Then, KACHING! Suddenly you have enough money in your bank account to cover your overdraft fees, and get a cheeseburger at Apple Pan.
What is rarely debated, though, is a great script. Generally, we all can spot one like a toupee. It has everything. Great story, plot, characters--it's decisive, and dynamic--throw in a good hook--and suddenly you're looking at a spec sale and maybe a multiple script deal to boot.
Chances are, if you've gotten a script to five or six people in the business, and none of them respond, you haven't written a great script. Don't get discouraged. That does not mean it isn't good. But, as a first time writer, if you want people to love you (or to buy something from you), it has to be great.
Just because no one loves you, doesn't mean they won't. Keep writing, keep coming here, keep asking questions, keep getting advice, e-mail me--keep writing. And, try writing new things. There's nothing worse than the writer who keeps tinkering with the same script for five years, hoping the reaction to it will change. It might, but chances are you're making a pig look like a street walking hooker.
I wrote six scripts before someone actually paid me for the rights (a $500 option) to a script. More options followed, but I wrote seventeen screenplays before I straight up sold a spec to a studio. Seventeen. And, that sale was a television pilot.
What if I had only written one thing?
By the way, everyone still hates my first script. And, when I re-read it these days, I realize--there isn't enough lipstick in the world for that gigantic piece of ham.
They didn't love me for a reason.