READ THE SCRIPT IMMEDIATELY .
YOU'VE FINISHED THE SCRIPT, NOW CALL THE WRITER IMMEDIATELY AND PRAISE THEM!
BEGIN YOUR PRAISE WITH A VAGUE COMPLIMENT, THEN FOLLOW IT UP WITH SOME SPECIFIC POSITIVE COMMENTS.
SET THE MEETING AND STICK TO IT
THE MEETING - START A VAGUE POSITIVE STATMENT
DO YOUR BEST TO TAKE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SCRIPT
GO THROUGH THE ENTIRE SCRIPT PAGE BY PAGE AND TELL THEM SPECIFICALLY ALL THE MOMENTS YOU LIKE!
BEING NICE PAYS OFF - AKA THE BENEFITS OF BEING POSITIVE
WHEN GIVING A SCRIPT CORRECTION BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
DON'T PUSSYFOOT ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T LIKE.
CONVINCE THE WRITER THERE ACTUALLY IS A PROBLEM
SOMETIMES YOU WILL BE WRONG.
THE WRITER IS WRONG AND REFUSES TO SEE IT. WHAT DO I DO?
DON'T OFFER SOLUTIONS. CONVINCE THE WRITER THERE'S A PROBLEM AND THEN LET THEM COME UP WITH A SOLUTION.
DON'T "SPITBALL" IDEAS. (SEE RULE FIFTEEN)
THE WRITER SHOULD FEEL IT'S THEIR STORY...
BE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE PROBLEM AND VAGUE ABOUT GIVING A SOLUTION
WHAT IF YOU HAVE A GREAT SOLUTION?
THERE'S A PROBLEM AND YOU'VE DROPPED HINTS AND DESCRIBED YOUR GREAT IDEA VAGUELY, BUT THE WRITER CAN'T GRAB THE HINT?
SUBMIT YOUR IDEA AS A CLICHE THAT SHOULD BE AUTOMATICALLY DISMISSED
DANGER! HACK WRITER AHEAD
PREFERABLY HAVE ONLY ONE PERSON IN A ROOM, ONE EXCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT EXEC FOR EVERY WRITER
1. READ THE SCRIPT IMMEDIATELY.
If you can't read it that afternoon, then read it that night. Any unsubstantiated or unsupported delay will be interpreted as an insult. Unless you have emergency surgery, there really is no excuse. If you have plans that night either cancel them or go home early because you have important work to do. The writer spent a LOT of time on that script and they deserve the respect of an immediate, and I mean immediate read. Ideally, you will take it out of their hand, and without taking your hand off the script, lay it on your desk and open it to the first page and start reading. If you can't get to it that afternoon, then read it that night. It's not only a matter of respect, but it is your best interest (and the project's) to keep that writer feeling good about themselves and the project. If you get off on the wrong foot, you may create irreparable damage in the relationship and that will effect your project. And don't let production problems of another project get in the way of that reading. I know what you're thinking, is he nuts?
A movie in production is far more important than a movie in development! Right?
Wrong. A screenplay in development is like a child, and if you abuse that child early on, it will grow to be a dysfunctional adult movie (sound familiar?). It needs coddling and cooling at all times. And if properly nurtured, it will be a strong and healthy script, and the stronger you can make that script, the closer it becomes to being fool-proof. A strong script can make a mediocre director look brilliant and a hack actor appear talented. If you have a great script, nearly all problems are surmountable.
Whatever production problems you have, things will be worked out - if a hurricane wiped out the set, the set will be rebuilt, insurance will be paid, and the schedule will come together. Your director croaked? You'll find another director. The actor won't come out of their trailer? Assuming it isn't an overdose, the actor will come out of their trailer eventually. If the script is strong, the movie will take care of itself, it will heal itself. If the script sucks, however, no amount of worrying will make it better. Your time is best spent making screenplays work.
Reading a script promptly gives respect to the writer, and keeps them working at full capacity. Another day waiting will slowly drain their enthusiasm. And that can never be replenished. Time well spent in the gestation period will end up having far more influence over a finished film that correcting any production problem.Keeping the screenwriter's disposition properly-greased is a key component in the process of getting that screenplay properly-written.
1.a COROLLARY- YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT READ IT IMMEDIATELY
Let's say you've got a real emergency - like oh, surgery to attend to, then by all means call up the writer and tell them the problem, so they'll know why you can't read it. Let them know you'd much rather be reading their screenplay that having this heart operation or attending to a terrorist attack on the set. If it's surgery for you or a family member - they'll understand, but if it's really dinner with a director or an actor, trust me they won't understand. And if you don't understand that, you're an asshole.
So if you absolutely cannot read it immediately, not only tell them why, but when you're going to read their screenplay. And let's say something went wrong in the surgery? Call them from the ICU and in a wheezing voice tell them you're sorry, but complications have set in and if you don't die, you'll get to that script by such and such a time. Create the illusion you care. They'll probably come visit you. With flowers. And if you don't make it - you'll get even more flowers and a very, well-written eulogy.
If you don't do this - if you fall off the wagon right off the bat - the writer is left wondering what happened. It will appear to them that their screenplay is not important to you. And that they - the writer - are not important. For this they will not just resent you, but they will not care about pleasing you. You want them to care about pleasing you. It is crucial to your dynamic.
1b. COROLLARY You can't read it because, well, you've got a family, and you have to attend family matters that evening.
Uh? What?! I've heard this before and you know something? Your family is your family, not their family.
This may only fly if the screenwriter has a family and if they have the same values you do. They may have been neglecting their family to write this screenplay for you! And then you turn around and say you are unwilling to do the same? You just told them they're a bad parent. And once again, they're gonna resent you for it.
And if they don't have a family, then this screenplay is their child. And you've just told them their child isn't as important as your child is. You've told them their child is worthless. Now go fuck yourself.
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