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Friday, September 7, 2007

Key Lime Pie


Once in awhile I read a script that is so terrific that when I’m done and I face the blank page where my notes are supposed to be, I just have no idea what to say. I had that experience yesterday (yeah, this is about you, Adam!) and it is delightful and as rare as a blue-footed booby.

A dear friend of mine just described a perfect little metaphor for scripts; that scripts are like being on a dessert cart. You’re the key lime pie and the producer, manager or agent might just be looking for cheesecake and for that reason alone – you’re not chosen. It’s not about what kind of dessert you are – sure you are luscious, alluring and mouth-watering - but the guy simply felt like cheesecake and that’s the end of that.

When I get really excited about a script, I warn my clients that while I think the material is out of this world, it may take awhile to find someone who agrees as passionately. It takes time. And that time is a good time to remind them of the dessert cart. And it’s good to remember that if you can write a script that somebody who should know finds poetic, moving, hysterical or supremely, deliciously horrifying – that means you have that talent in you and that you can do it again.

A few months ago, a friend and client had written a script that just blew my mind. He is currently getting attachments on the script after a fruitful meeting at Universal. But in the interim, he wrote another script and got it to my company for a three reader package. None of us reacted very well to the material and my client was momentarily deflated. He said – am I a one trick pony? Did I only have one good script in me? Nonsense, the Wave-iatrix says. If you write a great script once, of course you can do it again. Or if you haven’t written that great script yet – keep trying until you do. It takes time, there’s no logic to it and yes, perfectly good writers can write perfectly bad scripts. So don’t judge yourself too harshly but nor be too disappointed if someone loves your script but nobody else seems to. Yet.

BE the key lime pie, Wavers.

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4 comments:

Geena said...

When I first started surfing the screenplay web, I noticed the same scripts never win different contests (maybe get close). I thought - wonder why?
So I just then accepted it as reality. There is no Roger Federer in script writing. The objective judging and critique has to be assumed from the start.

Also in defense of writers who get ridiculed for silly
phrases. I think some readers
are too quick in mocking the writer's word choice.
Ex. I'm reading "Pretty Woman", first line...

EXT. HOLLYWOOD BLVD. - NIGHT
It is shortly after midnight on an icy night.

Many readers would call this writer an idiot, saying
when is it an "icy" night on Hollywood Blvd.
Then take a negative view into the rest of the script.

Julie Gray said...

Two things, Geena - that is not a poor word choice, that looks like the writer may have left out the word "cold" so maybe they meant icy cold night. We get those in LA. And Pretty Woman is a great script so a little slip like that is unnoticeable and not worth even pointing out from a reader's perspective. I do not mock writer's word choices - I point them out so that Rouge Wavers can learn from it and also see what the impact is. Most wrong word choices are just temporary slips, oversights, maybe rushing. But if your security guard waddles, now I've been taken out of the story momentarily because I can't picture that. A reader won't take a negative view of the rest of a script if there are one or two errors. Only if it's all over the script do they take a negative view. But remember - story is king. But when a reader stumbles on mistakes, it momentarily stops the story short. So the less errors you have, the more smoothly your story will be read. You want to keep your reader IN the experience and not lose their attention for even one second.

Adam said...

Julie, you're the best! I wish I could talk to you all day on the phone! It's not because you love my script (I got plenty of those), it's because of your willingness to push it even further. You might have changed my mind. A screenwriter? Maybe I should think about that.

Laura Reyna said...

Great analogy!

I don't worry about the dessert cart phenomenom. You can't control or predict other people's taste, or what scripts make up a prod co's slate.

You can only control what you can control: the quality of your script.

If you've put in the work... come up with a great concept, executed your script well, got a great logline/query letter, etc... all you can do is hope that it finally falls into the right hands.