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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Inside Scoop

In the beginning was the word. The Rouge Wave word. This blog began as a source for writers to get an inside peek at the machinations of industry readers. Since then, the blog has grown and expanded to encompass all sorts of Interesting and Important topics. Things like Juno, cupcakes and brads. Things like writing great characters and what is going on with the guy who does Burn Notice and which Rouge Waver can write the funniest haiku.

The other day, on a message board, a writer unhappy with the fact that I stand tall and say outloud that THE BUCKET LIST is tripe, accused me angrily of being "a gatekeeper" and thank god the writer of TBL didn't have *me* cover his script. Yeah, he's glad all right. I have high standards. So sue me.

Inspired by that fiery accusation, today the Rouge Wave returns to its roots. Over a pitcher of beer, I asked two of my colleagues, Margauxand Andrewto weigh in about their experiences as readers. As the evening wore on, the social boundaries broke down. Here is what I can print:

What is your funniest reading story?

Andrew:
I read a spec script that had the score written into the margin - treble clef, bass clef, the whole works. Plus the author had decided to draw small, rudimentary storyboards throughout the script as well.

Margaux:
I read a soft-core porn thriller, only to find out it was written under a pseudonym, and the real author was the quiet girl working in our mailroom. Other than that...my theory is that people look like their scripts...and 95% of the time I'm correct. (That's pretty funny, right?)

Andrew:
Man you're weird.

Wave-inatrix:
Oh gosh, there are so many good stories to choose from. But there was the time an executive asked me to read a script and then return it to his office. That should have tipped me off right away that something was up. It was a terrible script. I walked into the exec's office and he asked me how it was. I began to answer at the exact moment that I noticed a figure sitting way over to the right in his office. The figure was his wife. She had written the script. And I couldn't back pedal fast enough - I was stuck. A-w-k-w-a-r-d. Oh, also I read a 500 page "script" which was a comedy about a vet. That was super funny. But not really "ha ha" funny if you know what I mean.

What is the best script you've ever read?

Andrew:
The best script I ever read, the one that moved me
emotionally in some way was THE SIXTH SENSE. I'm not
sure what happened to it.

The Wave-inatrix:
Oh like that's not bragging.

Andrew:
Oh yeah? Shut it.

Margaux:
Um, so my turn. When I was starting out as a development assistant, I immediately had to read 10-20 scripts a week (and see screenings), but..I basically got no instruction what to look for in a script. I would pay attention what the readers were marking "CONSIDER", reading the premise lines on the PASSES, and trying to read everything the company had currently in development. (This is leading somewhere...I promise.) I was also fresh out of film school and studying screenwriting in town, so, I read the scripts from a writer's point of view. Did they hit their plot beats, were the characters original, that kind of stuff. But, I read the script for TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. A noir thriller about the death of George Reeves. (Yes, it later became HOLLYWOODLAND.) This was the first script I felt in the pit of my stomach. I honestly couldn't tell you the specifics about why I loved it, but, it just got me. A story that touched me so much, I was physically affected. I felt like that script popped a cherry of sorts in terms of how I evaluate scripts.

Andrew:
Little long winded there, babe.

Margaux:
(evil glare)

The Wave-inatrix:
I've read a lot of great scripts but the best script I've been paid to read was SLANTED AND ENCHANTED by Ben Queen. The project is set up at Warner Brothers now. I loved that script so much, it had this definite John Irving feeling to it - that I wrote Ben a fan letter. In my letter I told Ben that I hadn't written a fan letter since the one I wrote to David Cassidy in 1971. He thought that sufficiently funny to write back and now we correspond. And if you're reading this, Ben, you still owe me that cup of coffee.

How many scripts do you think you've read over the years?

Andrew:
I have read somewhere around 6,000 scripts.

Margaux:
Man, oh man. Probably a tad under a thousand. Maybe 850?

The Wave-inatrix:
Wow Andrew, seriously? 6,000?

Andrew:
Don't make me hurt you.

Margaux:
You're doing that thing again, that picking on Andrew thing.

The Wave-inatrix:
All right, fine. Um, I have read, geez, this is tough....oh wow, this hurts my brain...I'm going to guess 2,000.

Andrew:
(snort)

Do you have a ritual when you sit down to read a script?

Andrew:
First, I put on my magic underwear...no...I have no reading ritual. I just find a comfortable place to sit that's somewhat quiet and go for it!

Margaux:
I make a cup of green tea and sit in the corner of the sofa, next to the space heater. A scented candle helps, but not critical. My black pen, a water bottle, and I'm good to go.
My cat, Charlie, often comes and sits right on top of the script while I'm trying to read. Or when I'm typing at our kitchen table, he needs to sit on the script up there too. Sorry if you ever get short black hairs back with your scripts....it's not personal.

The Wave-inatrix:
I sit at my table by the window with a cup of hot coffee, my purple pen -

Andrew:
What, are you Virginia Woolfe now?

The Wave-inatrix:
Can I put him on "ignore"?

Margaux:
No.

The Wave-inatrix:
...with my purple pen, a pencil and my highlighter. Oh and my letter opener which I use to pry the brads off. I like the radio on in the background, very softly and sometimes my dog is in my lap. Is that a ritual?

Margaux:
Not really.

The Wave-inatrix:
Yeah, okay then.









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5 comments:

millar prescott said...

I'm wondering if any of you have ever read my Whiskey Tango Foxtrot contest entry - 'The Great Sarah Howard'?

Julie Gray said...

I read The Great Buck Howard if that's what you mean :)

Tavis said...

Fun post-- more please!

And speaking of cupcakes-- if you're ever in Portland...

The Style Bard said...

Thanks so much for the insight, that was fun!

Julie Gray said...

You should see our "business" meetings :)