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Natty Light

This is HIGHLY off the subject but I needed a place to vent seeing that I am surrounded by fellow writers.

(Billy, delete if needed)

Never watched Lost...ever.

As far as I know the island sank and Gilligan and the Skipper showed up in the S.S. Minnow.

It seems as if folks are having a Seinfeld/Sopranos moment. "What just happened?" Trying to read into things for a meaning that more than likely does not exist.

My two cents...and an idea that is probably too (in my mind) logical to make sense...let the writers write the ending of a series in the midst of the show's popularity...then lock it away while things are hot and fresh.

Yes, I understand...things evolve and change...but still...

Pull it out when things begin to wind down.

In my humble opinion ideas tend to get weak and all of these popular series end with a fizzle instead of a bang.

Or worse...try to stretch it out and think they can resurrect the show by....oh say...getting a character pregnant. Always works...right? (no)

As Elton John once sang...I've seen that movie too.

Beginning to think the same about all of this concerning The Office.

Just needed to vent. Thanks!

Carry on...

E.C. Henry

Billy,

Of the 8-9 scripts a week you're giving coverage to what's the breakdown of pro screenwriters vs. amateur/students?

Personally I have a lot of respect for script readers. How you guys and galls remain frosty after reading script after script amazes me. I do respect the profession of script readers; it is REAL work.

I think a lot writers' frustration with script readers is how hard it is to get them to admit liking something you've written. From a writer's perspective sometimes it feels like a trip to the denist's office to try to get a script reader to admit that you've written something that that this person actually liked.

I think it's easier to climb Mt. Everest blackwards and blindfolded than to get a "recommend" from a script reader. A writer's quest for approval from a script reader can be likened to a treasure seeker's pursuit of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

And just when you think you, said writer, think you've arrived that pesky leprechaun stands atop the next hill over with a foreboding smile. "Me gold's moved," now says the leprechaun. "So if ye still wants it you're going to have to come over here now to gets it... He-he-he."

My point is: no matter how hard the writer tries to get the gold (which is the script reader's recommend to someone with the power to take your script and make it into a movie) it is NEVER achieved -- no matter how dogged one follows advice given.

Still, it's always good to hear you explain your "mysterious" craft, Billy. I hope this week's 8-9 offerings are all enjoyable for you in some way. Thanks for some insight into your world. It is appreciated.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

P.S. 21 days and counting of consecutive days working. Sigh... Hopefully switching to swing shift will allow for more time for creative writing.

Trevor

Seriously Billy, sometimes you get the craziest mother-flippin' comments!

A very insightful article, as usual. Thanks.

Garner Haines

To be fair, Bridget Jones's Diary was a successful novel first (in Britain, at least, if not the rest of the world), but lesson taken.

J

Both sides of this are frustrating...at least for me.

I've BEEN that reader who has to read redonkulous scripts, cover to cover, and I've also been that person who's been told the concept isn't strong enough...even though everything else is...so good-bye.

Dear lord. Why hasn't Superman fixed this issue already?

mernitman

Natty: Never got on the Lost boat (or airplane), myself, so I can't offer an opinion. But thanks for the vent!

EC: The scripts I'm talking about are my average studio workload, not counting the student and consult work I do. Re: your understandable frustration about the submission process (and/or nightmare), I can only note that specs DO occasionally get sold and developed. It happens! And meanwhile, don't ever think that a reader's "recommend" is all it takes; in fact, I've often vouched for scripts that didn't get bought, because the powers-that-be have their own agendas. But that's a whole other... blog post.

Trevor: You gotta love 'em, though, right? And you're welcome.

Garner: You're right about the source material, of course, and I didn't mean to confuse the issue. But I'll wager that even Fielding's book sold more easily because of the "diary" device she used, don't you think?

J: Superman evidently busy trying to not be turned into a dicey new franchise.

Jonathan Tipton Meyers

Solid posting Billy. Thank you. The challenge is always to take each piece of information and make it useful and practical. I get the frustration (after no "recommends" but some glowing "considers"). Ultimately though, if you know what the pitcher is throwing, you have a better chance of smacking one out of the park.

Christian H.

This should help bring the almost symbiotic relationship between writers and readers.
We both have to "know our shit" or the process stalls. I can say I haven't had as many experiences with readers as writers but writers aren't studying FILM enough.
I've had good fortune with prodco readers but not contest readers.
"Similar but different" means there's not really going to be "new" story from the archetypal view of story.
I've gotten much better at story premises in the last year and am ready to start pitching again.
Though I wouldn't call my innate style "indie" I do like the human interest\sociological view movie as much as the superhero genre.
I've worked on both.

I hope if my writing crosses your desk, it's at least worth reading.

Joanna Farnsworth

If I had to do your job, for sure I’d turn into a fire-breathing Troll. And avenge myself by night, by tearing unsuspecting screenwriters to pieces, for forcing me to spend my professional career reading BAD scripts.

Billy, I salute you! For sticking with it day after day, never letting never-ending POOR scripts drive you to distraction.

Lynnie

"Set/Prod values". I'm not quite sure what that means from a reader pov...can you help me out?

The Bitter Script Reader

I followed the link here from Go into the Story. As a fellow reader I just want to nod my head in agreement.

mernitman

Absolutely, Jonathan: Batter up.

Christian: I bet it will be.

Joanna: There's always HOPE (i.e. that you'll read something good). And every now and then - you do!

Lynnie: You could think of it as "the wow factor," i.e. where and when is the thing set (e.g. Pandora v. somebody's basement) and will there be a "big screen" in terms of the script's inherent production, i.e. visuals, effects, et al.

Bitter Script Reader: So glad you do agree!

Lynnie

Ohhhh. Gotcha. Kind of you to reply.

twitter.com/dougbremner

I'd like to know how the scripts even get into your lap to be read. Is it through query letters from writers to producers? Contacts? Or are they being sent cold?

Jackie

For someone who's never had a script produced, you're mighty critical of those who have succeeded.

mernitman

Lynnie: You're welcome.

Doug: 95% of the material that comes to the studio does so through agents; someone has to represent the project in order to get it through the door. Beyond that, yes, it's about personal contacts.

Jackie: More often, extremely supportive - in fact, I'm generally the person defending deeply flawed movies to people who can't understand how such a movie got made. I'm the one who when a good movie is released is more grateful and amazed than your average camper, because after working in the industry for a sizable portion of my life, I really do understand how hard it is to get something good made - let alone have it be a success.
I think my blog generally reflects that stance, so I'm a bit puzzled that you found this post unduly harsh.

Stephen Gallagher

The brutal truth of the matter is that by reducing a project to its premise, coverage pretty much anticipates the ticket-buying customer's first impression of the product. Concept appeal is no guarantee of a good movie but it gives you a head-start in sales.

Helen

It's been awhile since I've stopped by here, but I was looking around to see if you'd commented on the film I just saw -- Letters To Juliet -- and what you say explains how it got made. As to why it doesn't work, oh so many reasons, but the one I settled on while drifting off and admiring Vanessa Redgrave's bone structure was that the self-absorbed Italian boyfriend character is vastly more interesting than either of the two lead characters. And that's because he has both needs and flaws, while the other two have only one of each.

mernitman

Stephen: So true.

Helen: My mom suffered through it for the scenery, so there you go - it was a programmer "package" of some sort (some real needs and flaws don't hurt) - and thus has done okay.

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