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  • Making Promises You Can Keep

    January 18th, 2011

    By Danny Manus

    All you have in life is your word. And in Hollywood, you’d be amazed how many deals, option, agreements, businesses and projects come together thru a verbal commitment and a gentleman’s handshake.

    Yes, we all lie. Yes, we all embellish. Yes, an agent will tell you they love your work to your face when they secretly think you’re a talentless hack. Or a producer will tell you that they are hard at work on your project when really it’s not even in their top 10 list of things to do. But that’s politics and politeness – that’s not giving your word to someone.

    Working as a consultant, my word and my reputation is all I have. And once that gets damaged beyond repair, it’s all over. I try incredibly hard not to make promises I can’t keep, or take on projects I can’t help. So why is it that so many seem to have no problem giving their word and going back on it?

    You have to realize that if you do this enough, people are going to stop wanting to work with you – even if you’re the best at what you do.

    If you’re running a business – whether it’s a production company, an agency, a consultancy, a magazine, a screenwriting conference, etc. – you need to know when you cannot deliver on a promise. And instead of exacerbating the problem by making more and more promises, hoping to cover up or fulfill the past promises with new ones, you should come up with other solutions.

    Every time you start a new project, you are giving your word to your own creativity – not to mention to that blank page – that you are going to fulfill a promise. Writing is a promise to the paper in front of you. It’s a promise to the storyteller inside of you. And much like in business, if you make a promise, you owe it to yourself to keep it.

    If you tell a producer you’re going to finish a project by a certain date, then you need to make sure you can deliver. If you promise to pay someone for their services, then you need to make sure you can do so.

    And if you promise yourself you’re going to write that next great American novel, or that next big million dollar screenplay…then you need to keep your word.

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