Tailoring The Script To The Reader

140330_oO
nce I read an interesting concept. That a screenwriter should write different versions of their script depending on their intended audience.

This is to say that if you’re sending your script to an actor you’re trying to attach, make sure character is focus. If it’s going to an agency, concentrate on sellability. A director, tone down your action lines and make sure your story is on point.

I thought it was a great suggestion. Incredibly impractical and nearly impossible to implement – but still a good suggestion. In an ideal world.

A pretty common Hollywood understanding is that as soon as you find a producer for your script that producer rewrites your script. Not himself. And if you’re lucky, you’re involved. But the thing gets hacked up. Or so I’ve heard.

My conclusion about this was that the producer – being the least creative partners in any production – has something to prove. Their trumped up egos demanded they put their mark on their new acquisition. For better or worse. They just needed to make it theirs. Changes things just to change things.

As a writer – the foundation of the creative process – I knew that moving forward into this industry this truth was going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

But that’s the industry. So be it. You’ve got to accept it. You go about your end of it and hope to get a producer who isn’t a totally illiterate fuckwad.

I recently got producer’s notes on Script #1 – the script I’m optioning. And as I braced for a wretched ego-jacking I was pleasantly relieved.

Sure, there were changes. But they weren’t changes just for the sake of changes. There was a method to the notes beyond Producer’s mere preference.

The producer’s notes were taking a page out of the playbook I’d once read about writing for the intended audience.

I’d evidently nailed writing a script that would attract a producer. Now that producer needed a script that would attract a director. Following which, I’d be asked to do another rewrite to attract a star.

Modifications to speak to that reader. Strategy. And I love a good strategy.

And as long as I’m getting paid for the rewrites and it’s not affecting the core story, it’s a better deal than having a bunch of alternate drafts of a spec script floating around.

The lasting reminder for me is, until it’s actually a film, it’s just reading material. And nobody really likes to read. Not when you’re being asked to do it. So every step you can take to tailor that script to your reader, you take it.

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