Monday, March 12, 2007

Flexibility

In the course of a writing career you come across many different kinds of producers and script editors. Some good, some not so good. But when you're struggling up the ranks the best piece of advice I can give is shut up and keep your head down. Yes there are writers who simply won't work with script editors or tell them to shove their notes where the sun don't shine. But they are craggy wizened veterans who have been at the top of the tree for some time.

When you are trying to forge a career, you have to take it on the chin. Adapt to the different personalities you have to deal with and find the best way of getting your way without antagonizong anyone. Remember that when you have made it you can spit in their eye if necessary, but until then, cool your jets. Unless you've explored every avenue and it still transpires the guy's a moron.

I've worked with good and bad. That's a very loose definition, because good can either mean someone who pretty much leaves you alone to get on with it or someone who gives great constructive notes that really help the script. Bad can mean someone who keeps you in the dark or gives notes that aren't worth the paper they've been wiped on.

I wrote a few episodes of a very popular medical show set in a hospital. Not much of a clue there! I mean this was prime time drama, so you'd think the people there would be shit hot yes? Most of them were. But if you get the one that isn't then God help you.

I was new to the show and didn't want to make any waves, but this guy I secretly christened Mr Good Luck. Every time he phoned he would say something like ''the producer wants more energy in the mid section, I'm not sure what he means and I'm not sure how you'll do it but good luck.''

Nice guy but as a script editor about as much use as the Pope's bollocks. I said nothing and tried to do the best job I could. That meant phoning the producer on a Saturday to try and get some sense for a Monday deadline. Producer wasn't pleased. I didn't write another episode.

I later found out that a craggy wizened writer had the same script editor. She told them ''either I get a new script editor or I walk''

So.......should I have said something? It's a tormenting question. I was very new to the show, and you've always got to remember that people move on. As a new writer on the show causing a fuss, that ''reputation'' can quickly spread.

On balance I'd say it's best just to suck it up. Getting canned is an occupational hazzard that can happen for a number of reasons, but what is perceived as a bad attitude can stall a career before you get the chance to stick it back to them.

Starting out it's like a young David Beckham polishing Gary Neville's boots. Thank you sir, can I have another!

4 comments:

Schmucks with Underwoods said...

"I'm not sure what he means and I'm not sure how you'll do it but good luck". LOL. Ha! Very funny ED!

potdoll said...

very wizened words Lishy!

I'd have been RAGING if I got that note - both as the script editor or as the writer - what does it MEAN?!

sigh

Phillip Barron said...

This week, I've had three sets of notes on three different projects. The first set were very, very detailed and in depth; the second, completely pointless and amounted to shifting a comma here and there; and the third were wishy-washy and vague.

I actually prefer the last set. The detailed ones caused more problems than they solved. The second set just left me shouting at the computer; but the third allowed me to actually solve the problems myself and come up with a decent solution.

To all three types, the answer's always the same: "I'll see what I can do."

With your useless script editor, would playing dumb have worked? Just endlessly repeating

"No, sorry, I don't get it. Can you explain it a bit more?"

Until the twat works out words are for conveying ideas not just random noises to fill up the day.

potdoll said...

er, i've tagged you. oops.