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Old 03-27-2015, 07:39 PM   #1
Mintclub
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Default Curious what folks think about this...

So I've been doing rewrites on a script I've written for a bunch of producers. They're established. Lots of credits. We're almost ready to go out to directors when I get one more set of notes. Nothing major apparently. It's about the ending. Only it's not just a 'note'... Nope, they've sent me the final 4 pages of the script. Completely rewritten by them. Different dialogue. Different prose. I cc'ed my agents into my rather unimpressed response but outta curiosity... Am I right to be pissed by this? I mean it's not like they'd shoot 4 minutes of coverage for the director just to show him how it's done, right? I have to stress I never gave them the the final draft file they've had these fresh 4 pages drawn up separately. Guessing they expect me to just tag it on the end of my work. I'm furious...
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Old 03-27-2015, 09:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

That would make my blood boil.

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Old 03-28-2015, 09:05 AM   #3
Ronaldinho
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

Yeah, this is frustrating -

On the other hand, it sounds like you've had multiple sets of notes already, and you still haven't nailed the ending, and so they're trying to figure out how to communicate to you what they want you to do. This maybe isn't the best way to do it, but it could well be motivated by something reasonable.
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:20 AM   #4
Mintclub
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

I should mention this is the first time they've raised issues with the ending. Didn't even give me any notes on it previously or talk about it during meetings. They just went ahead and rewote it for me...
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

From reading threads at DDP for a few years, I've discovered that screenwriters really don't like people directly effin' with what's on the page.

Okay. But what puzzles me is this: It seems the objection is totally independent of the substance of any changes made. And so here, OP doesn't mention whether that new ending is better/worse versus the original. Or if the new 4 pages came with a note that said "Here is the new ending", or that said "What do you think of ending it this way?"

The fact that they'd never before given OP a note about the ending is troubling. But otherwise, I don't understand the POV that what they did is simply wrong. (I'm not saying I disagree; just, I truly don't understand.)
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

Yes, it would irritate me to no end. Yes, I would be pretty grumpy about it. That being said, if that's the ending they want, you need to work in those parameters. Vent to your agent, as you did, but then figure out how you can massage it. They probably won't come off the ending, but you might try and do a pass over their pages and see if you can streamline the prose and dialogue closer to your voice.
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Old 03-28-2015, 08:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

I'd ask them what it is about the current ending, as you have written it, that they aren't happy with.

Ignoring their new ending for a moment, it would be worth looking at the note behind the note.

A note like "We think the script needs a panther killing people" doesn't always mean that the note giver wants to see a panther killing people. They might just want to see anther threat to the characters in the story, or perhaps they feel the current threat killing characters isn't strong enough to stand on its own as you've written it.

Be great if you could post your ending and their ending here for us to see
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Old 03-29-2015, 12:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

You can feel whatever you want. But you are trying to please these said producers with rewriters. My guess is that sent you back those 4 pages to give you and idea what they want and for you to rewrite them in your voice to fit the script.

If they are paying you then it's fair. If they aren't, I still think it's part of the process because you have to make them happy first so they will take it out.

None of this is uncommon. We sent in a script for producers and they reworked like the last 50 pages and changed it completely. Not happy obviously. But you bitch to other writers or your reps or whoever, but never to producers. You just try to make it work with them as best you can.

We aren't writing plays or novels, so this is how it works in the real world. It's all how you handle it. Professionally is the answer.
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

Could you rewrite those 4 pages, to make them better?

Basically, pretend the producer is a showrunner, and you're a staff writer on her show. She knows how she wants the ending to go, and your job is to execute it even better than she could.

I know, this isn't what you signed on for. It might be a way to make the whole thing work out to your mutual benefit.
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Curious what folks think about this...

Okay, I'm a little depressed by some of the blasé responses to your post. Your instinct is right: this is weird and wrong, and no, I'm not a big deal writer, but yes, I've worked professionally for a few years, and I've only ever been rewritten by other writers (okay, and directors).

You're not a slave whose sole function is "to make the producers happy," as some of the responses on this thread seem to suggest; you've been hired to be the resident expert on storytelling, and you should take pride in your work and stand up for the damn movie.

None of this is to say you should be confrontational or hostile or rude, but if you don't feel their pages serve the story, I think you should tell them why, as politely-but-clearly as possible (and then offer an alternative). If you think their pages have the right idea but don't mesh with the script, again, explain that and say you'd like to run your pen through them (why would they say no?). If you think their pages are awesome, then oh, what the heck, paste 'em in and save yourself some time and infinitely more heartache.

I'm not saying you should be Joe Eszterhas and threaten producers with knives. Obviously, it pays to treat everyone as if they're intelligent and well-meaning collaborators. But golly, this "I'm just a stupid writer I don't get to have an opinion, not like the exalted species known as the Hollywood producer" crap will not serve the movie, not serve the producers, and not serve your career. IMHO.
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