Thursday, December 01, 2005

So, this came out of the blue...

I sent a copy of one of my best scripts to someone I met at that writer's conference-thingy I went to back in October. He's an L.A.-based writer, has some contacts. I figured, well, what could it hurt.

So he called me this week and wanted to give me his notes.

Now, I'm a writer, which means, by definition, I am only interested in people praising my words. So of course I tell him, "Great!" I always listen to people's feedback, and I rarely get outwardly defensive. But inside, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's not anger. It's not defensiveness. It's just... I don't know what it is. It just is. When people critique, even with good intentions, it's like a wound of some sort.

So anyway, he starts in, and this isn't just some feedback. This is scene-by-scene notes. I mean real notes. I mean, 'this guy works in the business' notes.

And they were good notes. Not stupid and vague. Not missing the point. They were right and point. And really, really good.

I usually HATE it when someone giving me feedback starts making suggestions. My thing is: tell me what's not working, I'll decide how to fix it. But if someone wants to offer, I'll always feign interest. Well, New Friend here started in with the ideas and suggestions, all with the polite disclaimer that his ideas might be bullshit and not to worry if I didn't like them (which was appreciated).

And then his ideas were fantastic. Not every one of them. It's not like this happened in an some alternate universe. But most of the ideas were very, very good (as a writer, I find it alarming how many times I've used really, very, and good in this post).

First thing he said was -- gotta drop the page count. It was an unwieldy 126 pages, too long for the industry, and definitely too long for anything pretending to be a comedy. I've known this the whole time, but somehow convinced myself the script was so good that it wouldn't matter (how do we convince ourselves of things like this?). Gotta be 108 pages, max. Wow -- lots of cuts.

In two hours of discussion, we got through about 87 pages. I had to get home. That evening, I started working on it. I don't know why. There is no deadline. I don't have time right now. But I just felt highly motivated, and I thought his notes were such that implementing them could put the script over the top. And I've just been itching to do some creative work, so I guess I latched on to this.

So I cut the script significantly, implemented a bunch (not all) of his changes. Finally finished the conversation today and then he drops the bombshell...

He's made an arrangement with his somewhat small-time agent that he'll develop scripts on his own and bring them to his agent to go out with them. And, with his contacts, he feels that -- even if his agent doesn't want to handle it -- he'd like to rep the script himself, as a manager.

So this was weird. He's a writer, right?

But you know, he knows the business. He knows a lot of people. He has an office on the [Big Studio] lot, doing development for a television producer. He thinks the script is strong enough to make a six-figure sale, and he wants to be part of it (for, you know, 10% -- typical for a representative).

Now, I'm thinking -- well, what have I got to lose? 10% of what I'm currently getting for that script is -- you guessed it -- nothing! And here's a guy who loves my work, was really impressed by the speed at which I implemented my changes (and the fact that this also showed how 'hungry' I am), and who thinks he can sell it, and who doesn't make any money unless I make money.

So as I'm describing this, it sounds like no big deal. But it sounded like a nice option to me today. It still does. At the very least, he'll be getting my work in front of legit production companies and studios, places I can't get it seen.

It was just a nice little thing that happened today. Much nicer than getting rejected by another festival.

2 Comments:

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Chuck said...

That's great news. Cool that his comments motivated you to work on the script. I know from dissertation writing (a similar though not identical process) that its rare to get that kind of feedback.

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Total coolness!

 

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