Then who will read my fucking script?

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Shahul sent me the link to an article named ‘I will not read your fucking script’ by John Olson, the writer of the adapted screenplay ‘History of violence.’

Basically the article talks about issues regarding some one requesting to give notes on their scripts. Appears that some ‘mutual’ friend was not happy with Olson’s take on his script which lead to a fall out. The essence of his argument is that reading some one’s screenplay takes a substantial amount of your time with extra time for making notes on it- why should some one waste time on it when in the end most probably truth will be rewarded with grudges? And he raises the point that no one really understands what it takes to read some one’s (bullshit) script and comment on it. A struggling writer is asking for a professional opinion. But do you ask a doctor for a medical opinion in between a party?

Well I can understand Olson. It also gives an inkling regarding the dynamics involved while offering your script to someone to read. We take it for granted that this should not be much of a trouble. ‘It’s only 120 pages.’ But what a budding scriptwriter doesn’t understand is that a celebrity (film maker) gets thousands of such requests in a week. So though a refusal may appear rude, showing any kind of consideration will be devastating.

So how should a budding writer approach such a situation?

1)Make sure that your script is worth reading. Dont deliberately make it an agony for some one to read. Give some one to read when you are absolutely sure you cannot do any better with the given idea. Avoid spelling mistakes, formatting errors etc. Everything counts.

2) Dont run directly to celebrities. Your friends may be much better judges because they can put in more time, effort and thought into your script. If you choose them correctly considering their interest in books and writing, your job is half done. If they share an interest in scriptwriting, better.

3)Dont develop parasitic relationships. Dont push your script into a celebrity’s face. Cultivate healthy relationships which are not based on ‘You are God’ or ‘Sir, please help me’ themes. People can see through it. If you feel that you dont know how to move on just remember that there is one thing you both share- a passion for movies. Capitalise on that.

4) Never ever stalk. If some one doesn’t show any interest at all, dont chase them. You may hear success stories but they are so few there that it’s not worth it. At least in terms of self respect. But an accepted way is giving planned follow up calls and reminder messages- until you get a explicitely hostile response or disinterest. At that point walk away because from then on you are wasting your time.

Now coming to the original Olson article, I can understand his reaction, but I will still put it as arrogant. Can he say with absolute surety that when he was struggling, he didn’t approach an established writer for opinion? There is an implied invisible ladder that exists between the strugglers and the successful. You should not pretend that it doesnt exist once you cross it. In the same way, we strugglers should not pull it down in our zeal to climp up.

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7 thoughts on “Then who will read my fucking script?

  1. That was a very good read and I agree with all of your points. I also read the original article by Olson. You are right that his article is full of arrogance. I wonder why he wrote such a long article..just to put down a person? I mean he could have drove home his point with much less arrogance and more humility.
    You are very right in saying that one should appreciate and respect the time and effort of a person who reads our script. And yes, one should only go to a professional when one has finished something substantial rather than just tossing ideas to a professional and wasting his/her time.
    Also, one other point I would like to add is that one should select one’s audience with caution. I mean your brother or your best friend might love you a lot and would really want you to succeed in your endeavors, but they still might be a poor judge of your script/story. They might put down a good effort just in an attempt to become a ‘honest’ critic or approve a crappy effort or a silly idea just to support you.
    I dont know if you know about these script consultants who are experienced professionals and will charge anything between few hundred dollars to few thousand dollars to read through your whole script and give you professional advice. I think when one is starting out and one may not have access to established people to look over one’s stuff, these script consultants may not be a bad idea. What do you think?

    1. Dev,
      Regarding professionals I dont know. My impression has been that it’s a scam. Either they are struggling writers or failed writers. But that doesn’t make them bad critics. If one really wants to know, one will have to try it out once. But spending around 100 $ for script notes whose worth is of no guarantee- I dont know. Another issue is regarding the subjectivity of script notes. Just because its coming from a professional, the suggestion neednt be an appropriate one. I will tell you my experience. I gave notes to a friend of mine. After a few days, he forwarded me script notes of some other guy who had given exactly the opposite advice on almost all points that I have pointed out. I can say that this other guy is wrong. But it doesnt prove anything. In the end, the writer will have to go with his instincts. Thats where spending money on script notes becomes an issue.
      The following link doesnt prove anything. Its the individual opinion of a scriptwriter. Still go through the answer to the final question. I was reading it while I saw your comment. It suits the situation.http://www.donedealpro.com/members/details.aspx?object_id=396&content_type=1&section_id=11

  2. Hmm.. You have a point there. You know I never thought about script consultants before until I met this lady who has written a best seller on how to make a short film..she says that most consultants suck but if you can find a good one, it always helps.. especially for a beginner like me. For short film script, they charge much less..perhaps 100-150 bucks..so I had actually already budgeted that in my budget.
    Nevertheless, your reply made me think about this..and I read that scriptwriter’s interview..he makes lot of sense and sort of reaffirms many things I always believed in..

  3. “I read a lot of books about screenwriting early on. Syd Field, of course. Then a bunch of others recommended to me by my English teacher in high school. When I read McKee’s book, I nearly quit. I couldn’t understand one thing about what he was trying to say. I’ve since come around to realize that this is why he’s writing books on screenwriting instead of writing screenplays.

    Ted [Elliot] and Terry [Rossio]’s site, Wordplayer, was a huge, HUGE influence on me early on. This was the first time screenwriting was put into lay terms that I could understand and digest as a young kid. I printed all forty-some articles off their website and kept them in a binder that I would go back and read regularly. I also read Stephen King’s On Writing, which is his memoir and “how-to” writing book. There are so many great quotations in there and the book is so inspiring that I still read it once every other year or so. It’s a must read for any writer, aspiring, working or otherwise. ”

    Fuck. That was creepy.

  4. that was creepy because that’s exactly what i did. same books read and hated. even the printing and spiral binding of wp columns and the periodic reading of on writing.

  5. Andrew Kevin Walker sent his script Se7en to David Koepp, it was made!
    Steven Rogers gave his finished script to Sandra Bullock, Hope Floats, it was made. Matt Damon wrote Good will Hunting and sent it to a friend and it was made! I could go on and on. Agents will not read your script. They have no time. My advice is send it to a production company or an actor you admire but ask first. As for Original screenplays, they are and always have been sought after. A bidding war starts as they are classed as a virgin in Babylon. There seems to be uncertainty regarding payment of a screenplay on certain websites but just for the record new writers in 1990 were being paid up to 1 million dollars for screenplays. Its all on the internet to read for yourself. I would not absolutely no way accept less than 1 million dollars for an original screenplay I have written. Without a screenplay there can be no movie, no director,.no production, no actors, no special affects, no crew…. The screenplay is the absolute ingredient of making a movie!!!

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