Steven Soderbergh’a Lucasfilm Rejection Letter from 1984

I remember getting a letter like this for a comic book idea, and lo and behold the company, I won’t name them here, decided to go along with it under a different name and only a slightly different look. But then many people make those claims and so mine probably would be seen as the same as any crackpot that claims to have invented something so cool. But this rejection letter from Lucasfilm to Steven Soderbergh back in 1984 is just flat out brutal. It’s like being kicked in the teeth after being asked to smile and take it.

It’s easy to understand that when people are looking for ideas and themes for their movies that the fan mail is going to start pouring in, but the act of simply sending someone’s work back to them without any type of review is a bit harsh. And then to tell them this in a rejection letter and expect them to understand that their idea was rejected sight unseen is even worse. It’s almost like saying ‘we don’t know you so we don’t care about your idea, have a nice day’. Sounds pretty rough doesn’t it? That’s the industry unfortunately.

For all the money that Lucasfilm was making at that point however you’d think they could have hired on a few more assistants that were qualified to look at people’s submissions. He would have been about 21 at the time so the rejection could have stung a lot worse or been easier to shrug off, but the idea of being told that his submission wasn’t even looked at is kind of a slap in the face that people might learn to expect but still never gets easier. Authors have to deal with this just as much as budding directors and it’s the kind of pain that makes you wonder at times just why you’re still trying and why it seems worth your time to really keep going when no one seems to want to listen.

That’s when you have a choice though. When anyone that is trying and is determined enough comes to this crossroad they have that option to just get upset, depressed, and possibly quit and call it good, or they can stride forward and make something work. Rejection letters aren’t the end of the world after all, they’re simply one door among many that might close at that given moment. If you allow yourself to see that closed door as the end then chances are you won’t be looking beyond that portal to see just how many other opportunities lie in wait.

Soderbergh obviously didn’t settle on being told, in a polite way, that his submission wasn’t up to snuff at that point. He kept moving forward and by the latter half of the 1980’s and into the 90’s he hit his stride firmly and didn’t look back. If he’d allowed that rejection letter from Lucasfilm to ruin his chances of ever becoming what he wanted to be then Hollywood would have been robbed of a talented director and a great film maker.

Believe it or not, sometimes having these things framed gives a person even more inspiration than just burning it or throwing it away would. It reminds you that failure is just another lesson on how to succeed.

Steven Soderbergh’a Lucasfilm Rejection Letter from 1984

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