Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Bullshit Detector

I've had two sets of notes on my new spec from two different prodcos. One said they didn't think the twist to a classic genre was big enough and the other would prefer not to have the twist at all.

What's a girl to do?

Well, nothing for the moment. When faced with two opposing views of a major part of the script I tend to wait for a few more notes and then see which way the wind is blowing. It also goes without saying that if either of these prodcos REALLY REALLY liked the basic script concept, then they'd be on the blower asking if I'd be amenable to changing it to suit their wants. Phone is not ringing off the hook.

So I have good reason for not doing anything at the moment. But had either of them come back saying they would like it to be more x, y and z and could I do that? Well, that's when the Bullshit detector has to come in to force. It's a two way detector, picking up your bullshit and theirs and is one of the most vital tools in the writers.... . toolbox.

No one likes to work for free, but it happens all the time. Heck the spec was free work to begin with. But interest is interest, and if you figure you can do it and not harm your original concept and reason for writing it in the first place and if you have the time then why the hell not? It's a tough old world out there and at the very least you're showing willing.

But first your Bullshit detector has to come into force. On one level, who are these people, what's their track record? Are you just going to be throwing good time after bad? On another, do you actually think the notes won't harm your belief in the script or is it a bag over the head and write for old glory?

It's usually quite easy to tell the two extremes when someone is either blowing smoke up your ass or is just way off base with their take on the script. Much more tricky is to recognise difficult but constructive notes. And again that's when your own Bullshit detector has to kick in. Are you clinging on to the script as is, because you like it so much and how dare anyone say it isn't fantastic?

When I get notes on a spec I give them the once over then set them aside for a few days. It's very easy to get defensive at first blush, and you want to be open to whatever is being suggested. A couple of days takes the edge off.

William Goldman said that 'when you start believing all the hype, you're finished as a writer.' It works the other way too. Start believing all the criticisms and you might as well break the pencil.

Writing is always subjective to the reader. Sometimes you'll be right and sometimes you wont be. Hopefully your Bullshit detector will kick in and point the way.


Stephen Gallagher said...

If it's an insight that you wish you'd thought of, use it as your own. Otherwise, don't let the non-buying customer put marks on the goods.

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