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By Hammad Zaidi | November 12, 2013

Hey Filmmakers! Welcome to the 185th edition of Going Bionic! Before we get started, I wanted to personally thank each and every one of you Veterans out there for your service. People like me can write columns like this, because of people like you, so I thank you for the freedom of everyone you keep safe.

Today we’re going to discuss specific career navigation strategies for the rest of your 2013. While we have discussed submission strategies before, today’s article is going to detail upcoming events, which may impede the forward progress of your project, if it is submitted at the wrong time. So, without further ado, here are a handful of strategies that may help you make the best use out of the remaining weeks of 2013.

When Checking in on a Project Already Submitted

Never Assume Anything
How somebody acts on the phone or over email is rarely an indication of what they think of your project. Most active film executives get north of 100-200 phone calls per day, so just because they spend 10 minutes on the phone with you doesn’t mean they’re buying your script, and spending 10 seconds on the phone doesn’t mean they’re passing on your script. Thus, assuming what they may be thinking before you learn their thoughts on your submission, is futile.

Ask About Their Holiday Schedule
Rather than guessing, it’s probably a very good idea to find out when the person(s) you submitted are going to be away during the holiday season. Once you ask, they’ll most likely offer you a timeframe as to when they’ll get back to you about your project. While two weeks from the date of submission is the normal time you should wait before you check in on your project for the first time, that window has been known to slip to several weeks during the holiday season. Thus, if your project has been “under review” for north of two months, you should ask when you can expect to get some feedback.

What you want to accomplish here is to find out where you stand, somewhere between the week after Thanksgiving and the free weeks between Hanukkah and Christmas. This year, Hanukkah begins on November 27 and runs through December 5, so you should seek to get your feedback between Monday, December 9 and Friday, December 20, if not earlier.

Pulling a Submission
Should the place you submitted to be unable or unwilling to get back to you by December 20, you may want to consider pulling the submission from them and finding another company that actually values your work enough to read it in a timely manner.

Of course, if you choose to take this route, do it with class and grace, not vengeance and spite. Say something like, “If it’s easier for you to wait until after the holidays to review my submission, we can just put everything on hold and I can contact you again about my project in January.” Taking such an approach will certainly illicit a response. They will either tell you there’s no need to do so because they’re read it soon, or they’ll thank you profusely for understanding how overloaded they are, and ask you to contact them in January. Either way, your project will be taken out of limbo and you’ll get an answer, even if it’s not the answer you were looking for.

When Checking in on a Project Yet to be Submitted

Ask About Their Mandate for 2014
Most companies know what they’re looking for, because they know what their biggest buyers are looking for. Thus, it behooves you to find out if your project is even a match for the companies you’re trying to submit it to, before you submit it. Doing so will save you tremendous amounts of time and anguish, by not submitting your project to the wrong people.

Ask About Their Sundance/Berlin Travel Schedule (if any)
Not only should you follow the holiday schedule suggestions above, but also you should ask about their company’s travel schedule, if any, to Sundance, (January 16-26, 2014) and The Berlin International Film Festival (February 6-16, 2014). Even if the executive you’re submitting to isn’t attending Sundance and or Berlin, the principals of their company may be, in which case nothing will progress forward until at least one week after they return from the film festival(s).

When Checking in with Investors

Check or No Check That is the Question
If your investor(s) have had your investment package for over a few months, the only two questions you have to ask is, 1) if they’re interested in investing and 2) If they plan on doing so before December 31 of this year. If they give you vague answers, or tell you to check back with them “in a few months,” rest assured that they would not be investing anytime soon.

Of course, if your potential investors have only recently received your financial package, ask them if their looking at investments to offset their 2013 income gains, or if they need to invest after January 1, 2014. That way, you’ll know how to tailor your next move with them. Remember, with investors, it is always about them.

Okay, filmmakers. That’s what I have for you today. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, have a great week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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