GETTING NOTES & What To Do With Them, Part One
by Frederick Bailey
When you work as a screenwriter with a company in the business of making and selling motion pictures, it’s likely you’ll be working on an assignment basis—on a free-lance, independent-contractor, script-by-script basis.
Very few companies these days put a writer on the payroll, under contract.
The upshot of this is that you’ll be working with a lot of different people in different companies. And they’ll all be giving you notes. Notes on how they think you ought to do your work.
This is called the development process, and it can be infuriating.
For one thing, people are justifying their paychecks. If they don’t give you notes, then what are they getting paid for?
A lot of people in development are good at what they do, some because of nature and some because of training, and some because of both.
I’ve been lucky enough to get some really good notes in my career, the kind that actually help a writer.
There are also some people who will give you notes who won’t have any idea how to work on a script.
A lot of companies hire people who are just starting out (no harm in that), but that means the pay’s low, and so is the level of experience.
And sometimes people just end up in positions for which they’re not well-suited.
However, despite all that, I think getting notes is vital to a screenwriter. And to a director or producer as well, if you’re submitting your project to an established unit.
I always look forward to notes. Getting feedback.
And the general purpose for all this? To make the script better.
See Part Two of Fred’s blog next Tuesday.