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GETTING NOTES & What To Do With Them, Part Four – IAFT Reviews

by Frederick Bailey    IAFT/L.A.


Once when I was working for Roger Corman at New Horizons, he gave me a sheaf of notes from a free-lance story analyst.  He wrote something for me in the upper right hand corner of the top page.

“Fred, this lady doesn’t understand the genre, so you don’t have to pay any attention to what she says unless you think it helps.”

That’s actually a fairly good rule of thumb.  Don’t pay any attention unless you think it helps.

Actually, as I said before, I like getting notes.  Even getting notes from people who don’t know what they’re talking about.  Because you might end up getting a good idea from them, even if it’s not exactly the idea they were trying to give you.

Sometimes people will suggest something that’s completely wrong for the script you’re working on, and the tendency is just to ignore/dismiss those notes.

But occasionally, if you sit back and think for a while, you might draw something good out of a bad note.  You have to look at what you did in your script that caused you to get the note.  It might lead to an improvement.

Above all, don’t get defensive about what you’ve written.  Remember Wim Wenders’ 17th rule:  “Other people have great ideas, too.”

Be grateful for the good notes you get (good meaning constructive).  As for the bad ones, try to dig something useful out of them, but if you can’t, then ignore them.

I ended up writing maybe a dozen scripts for Roger Corman that got produced and subsequently released.  Some of my fondest memories from the movie business come from those days.

I saved all my notes from Roger, too.  I came across them in a manila envelope the other day.  His handwriting was always extremely small but legible, and he wrote on scratch paper.  But his notes were right on target.

I always paid attention to Roger.

Tune in here next week for the concluding installment of Fred’s blog.



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