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Old 01-30-2015, 11:04 PM   #1
cosmospc
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Default Producers who want to tweak dialogue...

I have a "friend" who is new to the game but also in a pretty good situation with a script he wrote. There are many meetings with other producers and interested parties, etc. Things are progressing quickly.

When the script was being re-written, the producer wanted to change a few lines here and there -- even writing suggested dialogue on the page. Nothing major; but lines he felt very strongly about. The writer was open to suggestions and added them in. It showed cooperation; an open mind; trust.

Months later in meetings, there might be times when the producer says things like: "I went through it a fixed a few scenes" or "that was a line I wrote." It's kind of said with a wink, like " I (producer) was just throwing the newbie some magic -- but I'm not taking a writing credit."

Well of course you're not. You didn't write the script. And had anyone known you were going to make comments like that, the writer probably wouldn't have allowed the line "Not on my watch!" (not an actual line, but you get the point.) The producer is a smart person who the writer likes.

So my short (and dumb) question: How do others handle this situation -- do you welcome dialogue suggestions?

Thanks

Last edited by cosmospc : 02-16-2015 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 01-31-2015, 05:53 PM   #2
evan_g
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Default Re: Producers who want to tweak dialogue...

Fight for what is worth fighting for and concede defeat where it's not worth fighting because it isn't terrible or doesn't mess with the story or character's too much.

Tell your "friend" to wait until their script is produced, and a director and the actors make their...'changes'. A heads up from experience: they don't use lube.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:58 PM   #3
cosmospc
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Default Re: Producers who want to tweak dialogue...

Quote:
Originally Posted by evan_g View Post
Fight for what is worth fighting for and concede defeat where it's not worth fighting because it isn't terrible or doesn't mess with the story or character's too much.

Tell your "friend" to wait until their script is produced, and a director and the actors make their...'changes'. A heads up from experience: they don't use lube.
Thanks for the advice, Evan. I followed your same line of logic and flat out rejected anything that messed with the characters or story.

Off to the store now to get lube.
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:48 PM   #4
evan_g
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Default Re: Producers who want to tweak dialogue...

Sorry, I forgot to mention, even if you have lube, you won't be allowed to use it.

Pick your battles while you can.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:36 AM   #5
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: Producers who want to tweak dialogue...

Unless they do real damage, you let them slide.

Chances are more work will be done on the script between now and production. If things are greenlit, you'll probably be spending a lot of time on dialog with the director. If - oh, gee, I forgot that line was yours - some of the worst examples get revised back out of the script at that point, chances are nobody will notice or complain.

Success has many fathers. If the film gets made, nobody is going to think it was because of the producer's uncredited writing suggestions, no matter what the producer says.

Back shortly after "American Beauty" came out, I saw a talk with (I think) Dan Jinks. (Might have been Bruce Cohen, but pretty sure it was Jinks). He took credit for a specific shot (a fairly iconic one from the film) saying that he made a framing suggestion to Conrad Hall when he saw how it was being lined up. He said he did that sort of thing very rarely but once or twice in a film if there was something the DP (Conrad freakin' Hall!) was missing, he'd speak up.

Now, whether he was telling the truth or not doesn't really matter. Maybe he made the precise framing suggestion he claimed , but even if true, it doesn't affect this:

Nobody watches that film and says, "Wow, it's a good thing Dan Jinks was there to keep an eye on the cinematography."

I am NOT slamming Jinks here. He's a successful producer who knows what he's doing. But when people talk about the look of that film, they talk about A) Conrad Hall b) Sam Mendes and if they're industry insiders maybe they'll talk about C) Naomi Shorhan (the production designer) and D) David Lazan (the art director). Jinks gets (appropriate) credit for putting together a stellar crew. Not for framing that shot.

Producers talk about that kind of stuff. Nobody particularly believes them. Try not to worry about it. Let him stroke his own ego.

In a larger sense, you want your creative partners to feel vested in the project. If a few lines of dialog make the producer feel like this script is "his" and help him work harder on it, then welcome them (again, so long as they don't do any real damage). Obviously there's a line in the sand, but a few lines of dialog and some self-aggrandizing statements are far short of it.
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