Film Courage: I think you said earlier that most of the screenplays that you’ve sold have been through prior working relationships where you knew the person?
But when you did go and pitch because it sounds like you have done that, when someone said “No,” what did that “No” mean?
Christine Conradt, Screenwriter: It meant that the project wasn’t right for them at that time. I think you have to have a lot of confidence in your writing. First of all, to get to that level where you’re ready to pitch and they are willing to take a pitch from you, you are probably at a level where you know you’re a pretty good writer. So you can’t let that discourage you. There are projects that we pitched all over town that I still love and that I still think are great projects and no one has bought them and so it wasn’t the right time for that. You can kind of obsess over that but the best thing to do is to keep moving on, go to your next one, keep moving on. You can always revisit something later and a lot of times when you do revisit it, you start to see things about it that you didn’t see before like Oh, I should have done things differently. Or knowing what I know now, I would do this because you were just more informed than you were before. So for me you just don’t let it discourage you, that’s the biggest takeaway for that.
Film Courage: Did you always have that approach to it or was the first time sort of difficult?
Christine: I think I always had that approach? I think my attitude was (and I think I’ve gotten softer as I’ve gotten older) but I think when I was younger I was like Well, if they don’t like it, forget them. I’m moving on to the next person. Like If they don’t get it, someone else will. But I think that’s the right attitude to have.
And I think that you can internalize a lot of things as a writer and I think writers tend to. We’re always looking for What did I do wrong? What could I do better? Why isn’t this working for me? And I think that if you just stay true to what you believe in, eventually you’re going to find that audience that is going to connect and that producer and maybe it’s just the timing. Maybe you haven’t met them yet, but again it goes to why networking is so important. Expanding that group of people and networking and finding that group of people that you want to work with who creatively align with you is really, really important.
Film Courage: Yeah and the interesting thing is too that so many things change behind the scenes whatever part of the industry that you’re in and you will never know why and you’ll never know Is it me? What was it? Did I say the wrong thing?
Christine: I tell actors this all the time from a director’s standpoint when they do auditions and they have five minutes to do their read, we know the moment they walk in if it’s a No.
Film Courage: Wow.
Christine: And I tell actors all the time don’t obsess all the time over what you should of said differently or how you should have delivered a line. It’s not even about that. We either connected you to that character or we didn’t, period. And it’s sort of the same way with writing. You are going to find people who (at one point) this is the project. Someone loves this project and it’s what they want to do and they get it.
But there’s going to be lots of people who don’t. That’s why there is lots of stuff on television. That’s why there’s lots of movies playing at any given time. There’s not one thing for everybody, so don’t take No for an answer, just keep moving.
Film Courage: I like that.
Question For The Viewers: How did you like this one?
In this Film Courage video interview, Screenwriter Christine Conradt shares how she had a lucrative day job but always longed to be a screenwriter. After leaving the day job on good terms, she undertook a risky move giving herself 6 months to begin a writing life. Ultimately the risk paid off and Christine has now turned one writing job into another, leaving the 9-to-5 world behind for Film and Television.