The one word that carries so much weight. I would venture to say no is far more powerful than yes.
Because you have to readjust. Whether you're the person saying no or you're the person receiving the no. Here's some of my experiences with no in the film industry.
When I was the person saying no...
Relatively recently I had an opportunity that was going to change my life. I worked hard for it. I knew this was going to be the best thing that had happened to me up until that point in my career. And then in dealing with the fine print, it wasn't as amazing as it seemed initially. This wasn't going to be bringing out the best in me and my work. I had two options at this point: give in (say yes) or stand my ground (say no). I chose to stand my ground. I said no.
The thought that kept going over and over in my head was something I heard my producing idol, Effie Brown, say a couple years ago: "Have the courage of your conviction." So that's exactly what I did. (Also if any of you reading this are thinking about going into producing, you need to know Effie. What she has done and what she continues to do is amazing and I am constantly in awe of her).
How did saying no to this help me? Like I said this opportunity was going to change my life. But by saying no it changed in a very different way expected. It made realize what I deem to be important values in my life and my work; how getting ahead in this business is about helping people along with you, not stepping on them on your way up. It was a gut reaction. So far, this no has been the best thing I could have done for myself.
Now on the flip side...
I've been told no a lot. Like a lot a lot. Like I can't even come up with a number.
I have a love/hate relationship with getting told no. On one hand, I want people to like what I'm putting out immediately. On the other, I like the challenge of not having things easy.
Continuing on from last week's post, we got told no a bunch at AFM. And it was for a million different reasons: budget wasn't big enough, only want movies with all A-listers, we don't have a big enough track record yet, etc. We even got to a few meetings where we only introduced ourselves (a handshake and our names) and then heard about what the company does and then were told that they don't think we're ready for their company yet (for financing or distribution), even though they hadn't heard a word from us besides our names.
Did all these no's bother us? Not really. Because at the end of each day of meetings we went back to the Airbnb, made some dinner, and brainstormed: how can we adjust more for tomorrow? How can we be prepared for every situation that may arise throughout the next week? Every single no was the opportunity. And the frustration of getting any no makes me want the yes even more.
If you look at the no as the jumping off point to what your project really could be instead of what it currently is, then your attitude will also improve. Sure getting told no will make anyone feel beat down after awhile, but really it's what you need. Every no is a like a log on a fire: it starts out small, but as it keeps building and building, people are going to take notice.
Be comfortable with getting told no. Because when the yes comes it's going to be exactly when you need it and who you need it from. And stick to what you cannot compromise on; that's the time you say no.