One of my friends called me a few days back. He was drunk. He was very excited about this idea which he was planning to develop into this 30 minute abstract drama. It is always very tough when some one asks your opinion about something which they are really excited about. And it becomes even more tough because they call you because they expect you to be honest with them. So I told him the truth after coating some sugar on it. But the sugar coating wasn’t thick enough. Or so he felt. It ended up in a (one sided) polemic about why screenwriting is about selling out compared to writing for theater.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I don’t have any specific commitment or love for truth. If I am given a choice between hurting someone and telling a lie, I would always choose the second one without batting an eye. But sometimes you make a mistake about how much pain you can cause. You misjudge about the level of rejection some one can take. And often it is very unpleasant to think about the amount of effort someone is going to put into a ‘nothing’ because you also said ‘yes.’
It made me think about subjectivity and objectivity in relation to art. It is really tough at times. Especially with screenwriting, often you have to listen to and incorporate advice from different stakeholders at different points of film making. It is like walking through a mine field. All the opinions may not be dangerous. But you don’t know which one is going to explode below you. Most of the script notes which are very radical from your own point of view will appear to be nonsensical at first glance to a writer. At the same time, after a certain period of time, you may realise that it was correct.
So how you decide to accept or reject a criticism or opinion? A popular idiom is that often the problem pointed out is genuine, but the solution may not be right. It is up to you to analyse why the reader felt that there is such a problem. Well, that advice do make certain kind of sense. Another thing is that, never give your work out for feedback before you are at least partially emotionally disconnected from it. Wait for at least 2-3 months before giving out your finished script. It does help to take the feedback in a much more balanced way. Other wise it is much more likely that you will turn a blind eye towards that beautiful but inappropriate monologue or well crafted but unwanted scene.
Photo by Phillie Casablanca