TWIC: My Script-Reading, Note-Giving Confession
For the most part, I have the best job in the world. I get to work with people I love and admire, in an industry that fascinates me, while developing and elevating careers I am excited about. So for the most part, yes, #lovemyjob all the way.
But there is one part of the job that is a little less great.
This one element of my job has kept me up at night on more than one occasion… What is it that gets under my skin that way? I’ll come right out and say it: I dread giving writers harsh notes on their screenplays or pilots, no matter how warranted. Still. I don’t enjoy telling a writer that her screenplay or pilot is not quite there yet.
I know: Getting notes can be tough. Sometimes disappointing. Sometimes even heart-breaking. Just know that most people giving you notes do that in the hopes of helping you get better, in our attempt to help you push the work to the next level.
I’ve seen the work that it takes to write a great screenplay. I am awed by all the hours, all the drafts, all the different screenplays and pilots it sometimes takes. And so, every time I open my iPad and start reading the next project in my virtual pile, I really, REALLY want it to be great. I want to fall in love with it. I want to get inspired. I want to be giddy in anticipation of sitting down with the writer and telling her that I loved, loved, loved her pilot or screenplay.
But that doesn’t happen every time. A great screenplay or TV pilot doesn’t come along every day. I’ve had to explain to a writer eager to get a manager that his TV pilot was not yet fully baked, and detail to a long-time client that I did see her agent’s point when he said there were too many conceptual flaws in the material she turned in, so in its current state he won’t be getting it out there. But because I’m invested in my writer’s success, such conversations, no matter how well received on the writer’s side, are always hard to have.
And, for the record, throughout the years, my clients have been incredibly gracious while listening to what I had to say. More so than I would have been had the tables been turned. They’ve asked questions. Didn’t make it personal. They took the notes, internalized whatever worked for them, and used them to elevate their craft.
I am on the side of the writer, always. And sometimes, being on the side of the writer means being honest and direct, because better my writers hear it from me then get a rejection from a place where they only have one chance.
Because I am going to be here, rooting my writers on through good scripts and not so great ones, always.