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
7. GO THROUGH THE ENTIRE SCRIPT PAGE BY PAGE AND TELL THEM SPECIFICALLY ALL THE MOMENTS YOU LIKE!
Even thought that might take more time than the criticism, that's a good thing. And let me explain why - and this is probably the most important concept you can learn from this entire essay. Read the next rule and you'll understand why.
7a. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE START THE MEETING BY TELLING THE WRITER SOMETHING VAGUELY CRITICAL AND THEN PROCEED TO GO OVER A LIST OF WHAT'S WRONG.
This is probably the most common problem in development and it is a potentially catastrophic mistake to the development process. Oh? You think I'm being melodramatic? I don't think so. Here's why...
Let's go back to that dog and biscuit analogy. Let's say you want to teach a dog to jump through GREEN and RED hoops. (And let's also say that dogs are not color blind). You've set up 100 hoops of differing colors and you encourage the dog to jump through a hoop. The dog jumps through a MAGENTA hoop. You look cross, slap him on the butt, shake your finger in admonishment and say BAD!
Then you encourage the dog to jump again. This time the dog knows better than to jump through a magenta hoop, so he jumps though a turquoise hoop. Again, you look cross, slap his butt and say BAD! Then you encourage the dog to jump again. The dog hesitates, then jumps - through a brown hoop. You look cross, slap him on the butt, say BAD...and encourage him to jump again. Well, you can pretty much forget about that dog jumping through green and red hoops, and for that matter you can forget about that dog jumping through any hoops! Why? Because you've just taught the dog to NOT jump through hoops.
So, if you start a meeting by telling the writer what's wrong with the script, then proceed to dissect the script and show them everything that is wrong, you're teaching the screenwriter to not write. They're being punished for their work. And guess what? You are the punisher. If you haven't pointed out what was right and only what was wrong - then it appears that everything is wrong. That they can do no good.
And if you're guilty of this action, then you've been there and know exactly what I'm talking about; the writer goes quiet, sports a quietly-snide attitude, their arms folded, and sighing anxiously.
And when they go home they won't want to write, they'll dread the experience. They will procrastinate. And when they finally sit down to work, the work won't be as good. And you're going to have to wait longer.
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