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creativexec
05-29-2004, 02:26 PM
I have lifted Tulippink's question out of the
PAT MORITA thread in an attempt not to
derail it.

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Dear Creativeexec, so my screenplay received a reading at a "major agency," and while I appreciated the chance to read the coverage, it also told me that the reader didn't bother to read the script. If he had read the script he would have gotten the throughline, which he didn't. It's a romantic comedy and from the reading of the coverage, he was trying to place it in another genre, so what do you think I should do? Ask them to have a different reader read it? Or just submit to a different agency?

He also complained about words and phrases I used which are particular to a subject that is part of the screenplay. Well, does he not want to see any original language or am I supposed to add a dictionary for him?

thanks, I see that you are a professional. this is my first post so it may be a little awkward...


------------------------------------------------------------


Pink,

I feel your pain, but I'm going to take a hardball
approach to your query.

I've been dealing with this sort of thing for a
VERY LONG time. The #1 complaint from a
writer - after he's seen the coverage - is
"the reader didn't bother to read my script."

When I first started in this biz, I heard that
so often, I became alarmed. I thought I
was the only schmuck in town who was
actually reading scripts. Also, I thought,
if I'm relying on coverage, I need an
accurate representation of the script.

So, I took this complaint seriously, and for
quality control purposes - every time a
writer complained - I would read the script
myself.

After about fifty double-check reads and
a few errors in plot info, I didn't find ONE
piece of coverage that misrepresented the
screenplay. (I didn't always agree with
the assessment, but the information in
the document was not compromised by
laziness or sloppiness.)

So, I came to this conclusion:

The reader did his job. The writer didn't.

Nowadays, when I hear the complaint, it
goes through one ear and out the other.
(Sad for the poor writer who may really
be wronged by a sloppy reader.)

Remember, just because you've written a
120 page screenplay - doesn't mean it's
a screenplay.

You may have written what you think
is a romantic comedy - but that doesn't
mean it is a romantic comedy. The writing
may have ignored the archetypes of the
genre. And it may have lacked the two
most important elements of that genre:
romance and comedy. (Most romcoms
do.)

Look at the criticism in the coverage and
decide if any of it makes sense. If it
doesn't, toss it aside. If it does, think
about how to incorporate changes into
the script.

In my opinion, you took your shot with
that particular agency and the script
missed.

It would be bad form to ask for a second
chance with the same draft.

Coverage isn't free. The agency has to
pay for it. It comes out of someone's
overhead. And it seems wasteful and
superfluous to have the script covered
a second time to ease the misguided
ego of a writer.

Don't withdraw from the favor bank on
this one. You'll need what's left over
for your next script.

"The reader didn't bother to read the
script."

On my side of the biz, this is tantamount
to a teacher hearing, "The dog ate my
homework."

Good luck!


:D

jimjimgrande
05-29-2004, 02:56 PM
Tulippink -

before you accuse anybody of not getting the throughline of your script, you need to consider that it's your responsibility to get your message across clearly.

You can't change the way other people read, but you can change the way you write.

Second, if somebody doesn't like your dialogue, even though you think it's appropriate for the character, you don't win anything by being right.

I've learned not to always listen to the specifics of negative reactions to coverage on my work - readers don't have time and aren't paid to write critical dissertations. Distilled down to the essentials - they liked it or they didn't - and if they didn't, then I have to look for a new way to accomplish my goals.

Creative exec is right on the money. If the reader isn't getting that your script is a romantic comedy and isn't interested by the language particular to the subject matter, then it's your job to make the genre clear and to make that dialogue interesting

tulippink
05-30-2004, 07:56 AM
Hello, CE, thank you for the response.


"Don't withdraw from the favor bank on this one. You'll need what's left over for your next script."

This is excellent advice, thank you. I am a bit of a "artiste" at times and prone to throw my paint brushes at the wall (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Address this though: Let's say that "readers" are an intelligent group (which I believe), young, hip, and looking to move forward by finding a great script. However, let's also say that they have their own prejudices. If, say, Mean Girls has just pulled 24 mil at the box office, perhaps that kind of script may warrant a wee bit better read. Let's also say I've read hundreds of scripts (which I have, ah, yes, the plot thickens) and that the writer's confusion in the coverage was due to the fact that if you skimmed the script (which he did and yes, I understand he has other scripts to read), however let's say plot points often revolve around a single line that "turns" the script (in fact, this is what you want because otherwise you have all that clunky exposition in which the actors look like they are little fishies thrown upon the nasty brown earth where they can't breath), thus if you miss that "turn" your lost in the script and it isn't making any sense to you, and won't for the rest of the script.

Also, and this is rather interesting, I wrote it as almost an "expressionistic" romantic comedy, that is I wrote it with "air" so that the actors had room for their own selves (trust me on this one I knew what I was doing). And to give the reader credit, he caught this and noted that I probably had a "playwright" background. He was not exactly correct (smart boy, though, he realizes I am not your 'traditional' twenty-four year old male white writer from LA)—but allow me that this shows he realized that the "flow and tenor" of my script was (intentionally) a little different (not hugely different mind you but just enough for the "romantic comedy" to have an edge) and that I was changing up the game. Isn't this what we always say we're looking for in a great script?

So, with that preface, let me wrap this up: Let's chat about the fact that yes, there are a lot of terrible scripts out there. BECAUSE in the tons of scripts that I've read they are weak from lack of the multiple, complex, and unique qualiites that make a great script. (yeah, yeah, yeah..stay with me for just a moment here). So it seems that there needs to be just a little more accountability from the "readers." I mean they are being paid to read these scripts, and his coverage had more than 50 (yes, I counted them) specific inaccuracies in references to my characters, plot line, et al. Thus, I am not critizing him (per se), I am saying: Do Your Job! (line stolen: see Jerry Maguire/Cuba Gooding Jr.). Don't just do a cut and paste job and say you've read the script.

So where am I going here? For the sake of this thread, let's chat about who the "reader" is for a moment. What's their banana? Tell me, CE, for God's sake, What's the damn banana for the reader?!!!
Tulippink

marky48
05-30-2004, 09:05 AM
I had a hard time following your post so I wouldn't want to have read the script. But that's me. It seems to me you're a little rapped up in your project and have lost sight of the obvious: if you can't convince the reader you've failed. You don't get to blame the reader.

And I was in that film.

sc111
05-30-2004, 10:23 AM
Tulip:

Maybe the fault could be in assigning the wrong genre to your script.

With an earlier script of mine, I called it a rom com. A couple of DD screenwriters read it and said it was more like a dramedy or dark comedy (because of the Act 3 shooting- - yes, someone gets shot, ha!). My brother called it 'quirky indy fodder.' Someone else said it had a somewhat 'As Good As It Gets' feel and that film is not a classic Rom Com either.

And when I stepped back and looked at the comments I realized they were all correct. Your reader reviewed in the context of Rom Com and found fault. Label the genre differently.

Also, I'm wondering if it's too risky to have an entire plot hinge on one line of dialog. You said the reader missed the through-line. I may be off base here but shouldn't your through-line be organic to plot (not dialog) and evident in your logline?

ComicBent
05-30-2004, 11:21 AM
Creativexec has given a wonderful, detailed answer to the general lament: "I thought my script really worked, so why didn't they understand it and like it? Did they even read it?"

creativexec
05-30-2004, 11:34 AM
Readers read for four reasons:

1) PAY

2) EDUCATION

3) ENJOYMENT

4) CONNECTIONS

It makes sense for a screenwriter to be
a story analyst, because it gives him a
heads-up on the market, offers a way to
improve craft, and provides networking
opportunities. It could be a way to the
wheel.

Readers are expressing their opinion -
no different than anyone else who
may express their opinion on a book
or movie, for example. You offer
"coverage" on anything you have ever
shared an opinion on. (This site is full
of this kind of coverage - look at the
threads in the FILM SECTION.) The
difference is that readers get paid for
their opinions.

Most readers are careful and astute at
what they do. But there are bad apples
- just like any profession.

Obviously, I cannot speak to what
really happened in your case.

Let's postulate that the reader did
skim your script.

Why would he skim?

Your script didn't work (for the reader).

He knew that it didn't work, and why it
didn't work, and didn't feel the need to
continue the journey any longer. So
he skimmed.

As an aside: I must honestly say, and
at the expense of sounding plebeian, the
notion of an expressionistic romantic
comedy horrifies me.

There comes a point in most scripts
where it's the fu-king Titanic.

And nothing will stop it from sinking.

Some readers may feel that a close
and assiduous read after this point in
a script is like rearranging the deck
chairs on the ill-fated ocean liner.

I would agree that not reading the
script all the way through constitutes
the reader "not doing his job."

But really bad scripts are grueling and
draining. They fu-k up the entire day
and throw off schedues, because they
take HOURS to get through (while a
pile of anxious scripts also awaits
perusal). They induce stress NOT
entertainment.

Readers NEVER skim great scripts.
They can't do it. The script will simply
not allow it.

Why should the writer demand the
reader do his job, when the writer
doesn't do his?

Readers WANT to read great scripts.
They want to bring the script back and
say, "This is the one." They want to
look like the star. They want to tell
their friends and family, "I may be a
piss ant in the Hollywood food chain,
but I put that script on the path to
being the movie it became." "I helped
to discover that writer...."

Unfortunately, very few - if any - scripts
provide the reader with that opportunity.

Does your script offer that sort of
opportunity to the reader? Is it going
to launch the career of a low level
exec?

The truth is out there and it will
eventually reveal itself to you - if you
choose to accept it.

If the script is what you believe it to
be - then someone will - at the least -
want to work with you (even if they
choose not to produce the script).

If the script generates no professional
movement for you, then it seems fair
that your script isn't what you believe
it to be.

My professional estimation is that your
script is probably not at the level you
believe it to be.

However, if it is, someone somewhere
will recognize it. And there is no reason
to get stuck on the opinion of ONE
person when there are thousands of
others who are looking for your great
script.

Good luck.

marky48
05-30-2004, 11:57 AM
That's what I felt like with the Zoetrope scripts. I found one I liked, and said so, and why. My own received above average marks and I got constructive criticism, with only one example of the "potshot."

Mostly though I couldn't choke them down and had to quit. I suspect the pros (and I'm not of of them) feel the same way.

JustinoIV
05-30-2004, 12:24 PM
"And to give the reader credit, he caught this and noted that I probably had a "playwright" background. He was not exactly correct (smart boy, though, he realizes I am not your 'traditional' twenty-four year old male white writer from LA)—but allow me that this shows he realized that the "flow and tenor" of my script was (intentionally) a little different (not hugely different mind you but just enough for the "romantic comedy" to have an edge) and that I was changing up the game. Isn't this what we always say we're looking for in a great script?"

If they say your work reads like a stage play or like a novel it is a big INSULT. They're really looking for screenplays, not anything else.

The thing is, you have to give the industry what they want.

So how are other readers and industry people responding to your work? If it is some of the same criticisms, they you need to change some things. It's just that simple.

Writer1
05-30-2004, 12:56 PM
Why don't you post a few pages in the Script Pages forum? I'd sure like to get a look at some of your pages.

PipeWriter
05-30-2004, 12:57 PM
Every once in a while (every couple weeks) someone comes along with such riteous indignation over the non-praise their current script is garnering, we actually have a name for it. It's called Blueparrot Syndrome.

There could be lots of reasons your script was skimmed. And all of them are your fault. Welcome to the club.

BlueParrot
05-30-2004, 01:41 PM
If any of my scripts are bad, don't blame me. Blame the writer. I merely transcribe the voice of God into my pages. Okay, sometimes he speaks too fast or I'm busy staring at the Sistine Chapel but most of the time I get his words down.

JustinoIV
05-30-2004, 03:09 PM
A good script sent to the wrong people will still get trashed. Just because the script is good doesn't mean any single agent or any single prodco will want it.

Also, it terms of what genres are hot, well, something which is really hot now maybe cold next year. and things which were big last year maybe cool this year.

It all depends on a lot of factors, and that is assuming your script was properly formatted.

Just keep writing, and keep submitting, and don't get discouraged.

tulippink
05-31-2004, 07:32 AM
"Maybe the fault could be in assigning the wrong genre to your script."


I liked this, thanks. Maybe I do need to push this a little further into another genre, nice idea.

"Also, I'm wondering if it's too risky to have an entire plot hinge on one line of dialog."

This is probably true, in some ways, in other ways at some point in the screenplay somebody's gotta say: "Let's rob the bank."

CE, thanks thanks thanks. You're great. Really great. I am taking the castor oil right now.

And this board is exactly right, time to hit the pavement with it...and to be very fair, I did make a couple of changes based on his comments.

Leech
05-31-2004, 09:40 AM
tulippink -

Does your plot really hinge on one line of dialogue, as you say?

In your example of someone saying "let's rob the bank," it doesn't necessarily mean that the entire plot is built around that line. Most likely characters and events in the story have been set-up to show that the characters robbing a bank was inevitable.

Maybe you didn't set-up enough in Act I and that your Act II has no reference points in Act I.

I hope this post isn't sounding rude or anything like that, but when you said that your plot hinges on one line of dialogue, it made me question your story.

Even if a reader missed that line of dialogue of yours, there should still be something that he/she can go back to in Act I to see where Act II is coming from.

ThunderChikin
05-31-2004, 01:12 PM
I second Writer1, tulip. Please post some pages. I couldn't quite get a feel for your script from its description.

oscarboy13
05-31-2004, 07:53 PM
I think people mistake scripts sometimes for pieces of writing.

The job isn't to have the best written script. The job is to have the best MOVIE on the page.

Most scripts are nothing more than a sales tool, that entices Producers, directors, and talent to want to risk their butts to get ahead.

Each level of the way changes will be made and/or demanded.

I find for me the pitch or story is what counts. I have some incredibly good dialogue in some of my early scripts that will never sell :)

I've also written some amazing scenes in some of my early scripts that will never sell unless I steal them into future scripts ;)

It's the sale that counts in the end. Because if there is no sale there is no movie and that's the only way a script can come to life.

tulippink
06-01-2004, 06:29 AM
I love you Oscarboy13. Will you marry me?
I have eaten every page of my script and will start over.

April Hamilton
06-01-2004, 09:17 AM
Now tulip, isn't 5:29am a wee bit early for that much sarcasm?

ThunderChikin
06-01-2004, 02:48 PM
Well, tulip, when you rewrite them (or belch them back up after a health swig of Diet Pepsi), please do post a line or two at the Scripts section. I'm fascinated by the description of your script and simply must see a sampling.

tulippink
06-02-2004, 11:07 AM
Hi, April, I wasn't being sarcastic to Oscarboy13. I genuinely appreciated what he had to say and I thought it showed genuine warmth and support, unlike some posts which just seem nasty. So the marriage proposal stands for Oscarboy13? Maybe he and I will decide (see: My Best Friend's Wedding)that if we don't find a home for our scripts in the next, say...well, I'll let Oscarboy13 fill in the blank.

Actually sacrcasm is not an essential part of my personality, fyi, future reference.

I do belive that my post was important. Clearly, my query letter created enough interest to generate a response for the script (good start!), and to obtain coverage. My concern, which is a valid concern for every screenwriter, is a request that the readers (whom I believe are intelligent, ect) do their job by reading the script and commenting accurately.

They are being paid to do so. As such, they should not be interjecting their own personal prejudices, but acting under the agenda provided to them by those who hired them. That said, they should bear in mind that accurate coverage should reflect the script.

Again, and in closing, I don't feel the need for posting pages. There were a lot of nice comments in the coverage, and we'll see where this one goes,

I still love Oscarboy13.

April Hamilton
06-02-2004, 11:27 AM
tulip - I took it as sarcasm since you also said you were going to eat all of your pages in that post. Unless you're on an extraordinarily high-fiber diet, I'd take that as a joke.

RE: the real crux of this thread, listen to CE, he won't steer you wrong. And good luck! :)

ThunderChikin
06-02-2004, 12:08 PM
Again, and in closing, I don't feel the need for posting pages. There were a lot of nice comments in the coverage, and we'll see where this one goes,

Awww. Darn it.

Can I have a cookie instead?

cognomen
06-03-2004, 01:52 AM
Get 10 people to read your script...you will receive 10 different ops. Does that mean you should rewrite your script to accomodate every opinion? No. If someone says that your script sucks. Does that mean your script sucks? No.

But, you should sift through the comments...if you see an reoccurring theme...like...(blank) needs to be improved...you should consider making some tweaks.

EJ Pennypacker
09-10-2005, 03:22 PM
Bump.

EJ

odriftwood
09-10-2005, 05:51 PM
First of all CE is right on the money.

My concern, which is a valid concern for every screenwriter, is a request that the readers (whom I believe are intelligent, ect) do their job by reading the script and commenting accurately.

My comments are a page to page an half. We really don't have the time to get into the subtle nuances of scripts. Therefore we deal with broadstrokes. And those broadstrokes are our impressions based on subjective opinion but it is an opinion that is trusted by those who hire us. Are there sloppy readers? I'm sure but like CE said, if the writer hasn't done their job then no amount of reading every word is going to save that script.

Joe Unidos
09-12-2005, 07:47 AM
Tulip--

I would be interested to know what the circumstances were that led to you being given a copy of the coverage. That's a tad bit unusal, as they're usually kept in-house...

Gillyflower Cooms
09-12-2005, 08:25 AM
Not so unusual. Lots of places will slip you the coverage if you ask.

Great thread. :cool:

Joe Unidos
09-12-2005, 08:32 AM
Not so unusual. Lots of places will slip you the coverage if you ask.

Great thread. :cool:

That's definitely true, Gilly. In my experience, though, the Big 3 Agencies are not among those "lots of places." But I guess they did here. Good enough.