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
16. DON'T "SPITBALL" IDEAS.
But it can get worse. When an exec starts tossing out ideas willy-nilly they're more likely to clutter up the writer's imagination than be of any real help. The creative process needs an unobstructured path of free association to allow the narrative tumblers to fall into place.
Also spitballing can be VERY annoying for the writer. To sit and listen to someone toss out ideas that might or might not work is confusing at best and humiliating at worst. You are the boss . Every idea that comes out is met by the writer as "You want that? Or do you want that? Or...?" You don't know what to do with those ideas and they end up getting written down as notes, and they lodge in the memory like some kind of obstacle course. And later, when they're working, or rather trying to figure out how to fix or change something, those ideas having a nasty way of popping up like an FBI training park, slapping you in the face and making you question yourself - no wait, he said hijack a plane OR a car, so if I have the guy hotwire a motorcycle (after all, the guy was profession motorcycle racer) that maybe he doesn't want that. All those ideas will end up as narrative clutter in their heads. Hoops of varying color that you're not sure you should be jumping through.
It also feels like the exec is trying work their idea into the story so they can feel creative and/or "justify their position" . (Which may or may not be the case, but that's how it feels ). A good collaborative development process is one where the division of labor is appropriately drawn - meaning the writer does the creating, and the exec let's them know what is and isn't working and why. The executive is performing a crucial role in the process and that alone should give them enough validation. Your function is very important.
Spitballing also has the effect of making the writer feel violated . If we're talking about an original screenplay, then they will feel a strong kinship with the material. The more of your ideas they're forced to work in, the more likely their proprietary interest will wane. Waning is bad. You want excitment and focus, not waning. This is their creation, their child , and you're trying to make them spend an evening at the Neverland Ranch with the Prince of Weirdness.
And if you're thinking, wait a second, we bought that script fair and square, WE OWN IT! Whoa! That's not an attitude conducive to an effective develpment process. Also, you don't own it, the studio owns it, the stockholders own it. You're an employee hired to do a job. Do it well.
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