|04-25-2011, 10:27 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Leavenworth Penitentiary
Producer Notes vs. Writer Notes
I used to think I give good notes. Have a strong foundation of the 3 Act structure, even familiar with 8 sequences, able to break down a script to its core of plot, character, theme, etc.
And over time, I've been able to exchange notes with writers who are far more accomplished than I am. And I always focused my notes of that writer's intent as well as that writer's execution. In short, I thought I was smart and gave great notes.
Then I discovered that I know NOTHING.
I recently had a two hour notes session with my managers who have strong producing backgrounds. And their notes of my latest draft were so mind numbingly brilliant that I now have to re-evaluate how I give notes as well as I approach my own craft.
FIRST 15 PAGES IS YOUR ENTIRE MOVIE. The studio executives will decide within the first 15 pages whether they are going to buy your script or not. This has NOTHING to do hitting the inciting event or all the other mumbo jumbo that we think we have to have in that first sequence.
In those fifteen pages, what you need to have are:
1) Present a world that's unique. This doesn't have to be a Star Wars universe. But show us a setting that excites us.
2) First introduction of our main protagonist has to be GREAT. That first scene must give the audience a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of who this person is.
3) First introduction of our antagonist has to be just as GREAT. (or, say, in a buddy comedy like mine, both protagonists' introductions have to be FRESH AND EXCITING)
4) Present a problem that the audience understands right away.
5) When our main characters first encounter each other, that has to be FREAKIN' AMAZING.
And that, my managers said, is 70 percent of the movie. Now all I'm doing is rewriting the first 15 pages over and over until it's perfect.
I went through all my scripts in my portfolio. And needlessly to say, all my scripts FAIL these 5 checkpoints. Some pass only 2 inspection points. Some pass 3. But 3 is about the max. 3 out of 5 doesn't cut it when you want to sell your spec.
In so many ways, a script is like a job interview or the first date. The date/employer already made up his/her mind in that first 5 minutes. If you screw that up, there's no way the remaining 100 pages mean anything. You can have the most brilliant story unfolding over 110 pages. But if those first 15 pages don't pass these 5 points, your script will not sell.
Now mind you, what they were talking about was a spec script. Anyway, I thought this was worthy of discussion.