Feedback: Why You Need It, How to Get It
by Lenore Wright
Writers dread receiving feedback on their scripts for many reasons. Here are some popular (yet bogus) reasons:
=> They want to believe they're so talented they do not have to rewrite. Feedback interferes with that delusion.
=> They want to believe the story they've written works as a movie just the way it is.
=> They want to be finished, and feedback sometimes (Almost always, sigh!) reveals that more work needs to be done.
Professional screenwriters know that script feedback is part of the process. They learn how to deal with it effectively. Sometimes they even embrace this opportunity to polish their script.
Why Screenwriters Need Feedback
Writing is a solitary profession; but screenwriting is a collaborative job. Here are three of the main reasons screenwriters even aspiring ones - need feedback on their scripts.
1) Aspiring screenwriters need to know how to evaluate and integrate feedback it is part of the screenwriters job description.
All professional screenwriting jobs involve feedback. Writers attend story meetings before, during and after the writing of the script. If a writer stays attached to a project, these meetings continue all the way to the last day of shooting and sometimes through the editing process and the marketing of the finished film.
Feedback comes in all sizes and flavors -- helpful and destructive, professional and amateurish, insightful and dismissable. Sifting out useful feedback from useless dreck is an important skill that all working screenwriters must develop.
2) Feedback puts the writer in touch with the audience.
Movies need audiences to succeed. Produced screenwriters benefit from the give and take an audience provides. Unproduced writers can also benefit from audience feedback whether this audience reads your screenplay privately or attends a staged reading of your script. Their feedback from this experience will answer these vital questions: Does your script connect with the audience? Have you fully realized your story, your characters, your conflicts?
3) Working screenwriters automatically generate feedback on their scripts; unproduced writers have to generate their own feedback.
Professional screenwriters have agents and managers who read their original scripts and give them feedback. When writers are hired to write a screenplay, the producer or studio executive provides a staff of development people to read and evaluate the script at every stage of the writing process. This feedback comes in the form of notes, conference calls and story meetings.
Sometimes this process can be annoying or even counter-productive; but sometimes it can be very helpful to the project. One thing is certain -- all working screenwriters learn how to manage these situations so their script survives and thrives.
By generating feedback on their scripts, aspiring screenwriters can start developing this vital skill BEFORE they are thrown into a professional working environment.
How Writers Generate Feedback
You don't have to sign a five picture deal with Paramount Pictures to generate feedback on your scripts. There are many ways unproduced writers can instigate opportunities for script feedback. Here are some suggestions:
Many writers belong to a writing group whose members read each others work and comment on it. This can be done in person or online. If the group you join does not work for you, do not suffer in silence; find a group that does work.
You can find active screenwriting groups through writers callboards. Here is a list of reliable writers callboards => www.breakingin.net/tswboards.htm
Film Industry Pals
If you love movies, you probably know others who are trying to establish themselves as writers, actors, directors, producers and editors. These colleagues each know a part of the film process but nobody knows everything. While their feedback might not be complete, it should be helpful to you because they are familiar with a vital part of the filmmaking process.
Script Coaches Or Professors
Professional script coaches and film professors can help you raise your script to a new level. For a list of reliable ones, try this tutorial => www.breakingin.net/tswcoaches.htm
Unproduced writers can benefit enormously from a public reading of their script. Contact an acting class at a nearby college and volunteer some scenes for the students to use. Offer your script to a community theatre group for a staged reading. Or gather a group of friends who are interested in movies and assign the roles yourself. Do not read one of the roles, listen and learn.
Contests With Feedback
Many screenplay contests offer feedback as part of the prize. The following contests offer feedback to ALL participants:
---> Slamdance Film Festival: www.slamdance.com/screencomp
----> Red Ink Works Script Competition: - www.redinkworks.com/script_competition.htm
----> Freshly Written: www.freshlywritten.com
© Copyright (c) 2002 Lenore Wright
Wright has 15 years experience writing and selling
screenplays in Los Angeles and New York. For free
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