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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Are We There Yet?

Rouge Waver J.J. asks: When do you stop taking suggestion/notes/advice for improving your script? At what point is enough enough?

Good question, J.J. I know I have received notes upon notes on scripts of mine and at a certain point in time you start to wonder if the script is written by committee. Additionally, there are note-junkies who essentially have a fear of actually finishing the project and putting it out there to succeed or fail.

I need to point out one truth that sucks: No script is ever DONE. Even if you sell your script, changes will be made. Changes will be made as the movie is shooting. No script is ever done. Memorize that.

But before you submit your script to a competition, agent/manager or production company, at a certain point it becomes done enough for now. But how do you know?

It is useful to be still.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody who knows the Wave-inatrix knows that she is a pretty spiritual person but think about the usefulness of that statement in this and every situation in your life. Be. Still.

Just take a deep breath and ask yourself - have you taken this script as far as you possibly can, to the best of your ability? Is there anything that still niggles? Is not being sure if you're done or not rooted in fear? Fear that the script will fail?

Let me tell you something, Wavers - good scripts fail. Because their reception is subjective. Good scripts get a PASS simply because it didn't match the mandate of the production company or strike the exec or manager reading it as just what they are looking for.

Recently I corresponded with a number of managers who read consider scripts at the Script Department. I asked them each exactly what they were looking for. Every single one answered differently. NO comedy. NO horror. Horror, please! NO drama. Period piece drama, please. Comedy and horror. NO sci-fi or fantasy. I'm looking for sci-fi and fantasy! I was blown away by not only how different their requests were but by how strongly they felt about what they are looking for.

You've gotten three sets of notes and you're just feeling a little unsure....are you being a notes junkie? Are you afraid to just go for it? The truth is your little darling, your beautiful child is going to be rejected 9 out of 10 times. For reasons that make sense and for reasons that are baloney. How do I know this? Bitter and painful experience. You got to let that fear go. Because you only need one "yes".

So be still. Take a deep breath. What is the best use of your creative time right now? Are you beating this script to death? Is it time to move on? If you are having this conversation with yourself, I'm going to go out on a limb - it's time to be done already and move on.

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PJ McIlvaine said...

Excellent post! I have scrips that I am forever tinkering with, and others that are just done, done, done.

Diane Stredicke said...

Wonderful post Julie.

Pete Considine said...

I'm often reminded of a very successful commercial actor I knew who told me that he only got 6 of every 10 jobs he went after. When I have the clarity, it's done me well to remember that "success" can still mean a 40% rejection rate.