Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Law Of Cynics

Every pro reader of whatever persuasion with a blog will post that they open every script with a sense of optimism. Searching, ever searching for that blow me out the water script.

And they do.

But by page 5 they realise it is another heap of crap in an ever growing mountain of crappiness. You have got to understand how bad most scripts are before before you start blaming readers for losing interest after the first few pages.

You can whine about how you never got a chance and the second act was brilliant. But if the reader never got there then the second act brilliance is most likely in your own mind.
I generally don't have a lot of time for readers. I was one and I didn't know shit from shinola. Thought I did. Didn't.
Instinctively I knew a dud from a hit. And could waffle. Maybe the best attributes a reader can have. There are some excellent readers. Probably. I thought I was one. I was shit. Because though I could tell a dud from a hit, my advice to the companies and therefore writers, was deeply flawed and mired in my own ignorant preconceptions.

Good learning process though. I just hope out of the scripts I read at the time I haven't discouraged anyone.


Anonymous said...

Having been optioned by someone bypassing the reader,and not nepotism, I can't help but agree.

David Bishop said...

I've always wondered - what is shinola? And why is it so different from shit?

Paul Campbell said...

I've always felt that the reader's report is not really a considered review and critique of the material.

It's just something that readers have to produce to prove that they actually opened the script they've been paid £40 to look at.

It's a piece of paper you need to justify the expenditure to the auditors.

But nobody actually reads them.

If prodcos actually trusted their readers, then the report sheet would look like this....


Name of Project....

Name of Writer....

Name of Reader....

Any Good? Yes, no or maybe.

Andy Goodman said...

Surely we have to believe that there are Readers out there that actually do read the scripts we send in..? And that they actually have constructive comments regarding said scripts? Don't we?

Cloud-cuckoo land maybe, but what other option do we have? This is my first year of trying to write, and my artistic skin is getting thicker by the day. My scripts aren't brilliant... yet, but soon, perhaps.

Whatever Readers reports say about my scripts I take with a pinch of salt and try to take the positives from them without taking the insults too much to heart.

English Dave said...

There are some excellent readers out there. I just know now I wasn't one of them.

Finding them is not that hard. Read blogs, most importantly get personal recommends if you can.

Prodco readers obviously you don't have a choice. You just have to trust they know what they're doing.

It can work both ways. A not that great script can get a rave report if it connects with the reader. A good script can get trashed if it doesn't.

Oli said...

"Shinola is a brand of wax shoe polish that was available in the early- to mid-20th century. The original trademark was filed in 1929 by 2-in-1 Shinola-Bixby Corporation, New Jersey."

Yes sir, I am geeky.

I totally sympathise with the readers. I occasionally pop over to Zoetrope, and my dear god there is some shit out there. I have to assume that the ratio of crap/decent screenplays there is indicative of screenplays everywhere. I've downloaded maybe thirty screenplays from there, and loved one. Those poor, poor readers.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for a North American writer to write in England? I'm thinking of submitting a spec to the BBC writer's room. I am a Canadian with a UK passport, but my writing style is clearly North American.

Even if I substitute NA references to English ones, British people just don't talk like us heathens do they?

Do you have any thoughts on this? I know you worked in the states for a while. What are your thoughts on the differences?

Chip Smith said...

Oli - if you think Zoetrope is bad, hop on over to Trigger Street! I've read maybe 50-60 scripts over there, and in all honesty I can say that 3-4 were any good.

The only way I could be a full time reader would be to develop a heavy reliance on vodka!

Lucy said...

*hic* Welcome to my world... ; ) Though it's gin for me, a mother's ruin I tell 'ee!!

And Paul, some places DO lay their reports out like you describe. Honest. I might even show you if you're a good boy, *oo er*

English Dave said...

Juratest, it is always worth submitting work wherever you have access.

I don't think there is a lot of difference between Canadian and British TV as far as style and content is concerned. One off hour longs and two parters are very acceptable. And I recently heard of an American writer who came over here, pitched a couple of projects to the BBC and had them both comissioned.

Clearly working on serial drama would not be an option unless you moved here. And bear in mind, we don't have the writers room system. One episode of a serial drama does not guarantee a steady wage. You work from phone call to phone call.

But there is never any harm in submitting something and seeing where it leads.