Two vital disciplines to help establish your screenwriting career: Collboration and teamwork…
June 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
Yes… that sweet aroma of victory when you finish your spec screenplay. Every word is yours, every scene is yours, every line of dialogue is yours… it’s a joyous dream world filled with everything that came from your head… and now reality hits with a spec release and working in Hollywood—it’s always a collaboration. The moment you unleash your script for others to read you will receive notes, good, bad and ugly and open yourself up to criticism. It’s hard when they burst your protected spec bubble and you realize that just because you write a screenplay doesn’t mean anyone has to like it or produce it. Time to toughen up and strap yourself in for the bumpy ride.
The key to working and working again in Hollywood if you do land a job? Collaboration and teamwork. It’s vital to your survival over the long haul. No screenplay scene or line of dialogue—or any screenplay—is worth losing a job over. Professionals want to work with other professionals and not divas. Producers, executives, agents, managers, and directors look for workhorses—screenwriters who go above and beyond and realize the opportunities they have landed. If you want to work in this crazy business where it’s nearly impossible to get anything produced on any size screen—detach and get the script produced. You want to be the “go to person” who helps the producer, executive and director move the project through the development phase toward production. A collaborator and team player does just that.
Your experience and attitude can determine if you’ll stay on the project or be fired. Have you learned how to take constructive criticism and mastered the ability to execute producer’s notes—and not gripe and grimace during the experience? Do you turn in your work on schedule or early? This is the delicate art of being a team player. It’s a necessary discipline for any real chance at success in Hollywood. A team player, not a temperamental diva, usually stays on a project longer and many times, through production. The constant barrage of notes and changes can make screenwriters frustrated and angry. They can feel totally out of control and like they’re just around to do the “grunt” work of writing. Avoid the temptation to go down a destructive pathway with these valid emotions.
Don’t become “difficult” or branded a pain in the ass to work around. Producers will hire a talented team player over a pain in the ass that has no regard for professionalism. Hollywood is a business of relationships and networking. People in Hollywood generally like to work with those people they’ve had a positive experience with in the past. So, always deliver your best work, every time, regardless of your salary and don’t ever gripe about the changes. Unfortunately, most producers have their radar up to detect if a screenwriter is easy or difficult when it comes time for the rewrites. They test you when you don’t expect it. Can you pass the test? The minute you’re viewed as problem, you’ll be branded as “difficult” and it’s a hard to dispel that reputation.
Hollywood is a small town when it comes to people knowing each other and if word gets out that a producer or director had a difficult working relationship with you it can mean the death of your next job. Let’s dispel that old stereotype and prove them all wrong. We’re the writers who want to work and make it all happen. Make a point to clearly show the producers how invaluable you are to the project and why they need to keep you around. As you’re the screenwriter, be the repository of knowledge about the script for the director, producer and actors.
Do everything you can to help the producers craft the script they need and lend all of your support to get the movie competed. That’s the end game—getting your movie produced and receiving your credit. Initially, you may not receive the praise or validation you feel that you deserve for all of your hard work. I know it feels like you’re banging your head against a wall and coming up short. If this happens, patience is a good discipline to follow, as it will eventually pay off for you over the long haul. Your praise will come in the form of a payment for your writing, a produced film, and a vital part of your screenwriting career—a credit. Produced film credits will determine your payment quote for your next project and secure you as a working professional. You’ll always find opportunities to be a collaborator team player and build your integrity as a professional screenwriter.
Every new project is a chance to build new relationships and show the producers and executives they can trust you by being a person of your word. If you promise to do something—do it. This is the mantra of a team player. It’s that easy. Over time, these professionals will know they can count on you, that your word means something and you are a team player. Your talent is equally as important as your professional work ethic and your attitude. These are the characteristics of a professional screenwriter and your reputation of being a team player will precede you. Keep filling your blank pages because if you stop writing, you’ll never have a shot at any success. Scriptcat out!
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“A Screenwriter’s Checklist: 10 Questions Every Screenwriter Must Answer to Stay in the Game.”
“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost—and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”— T.S. Eliot
“Don’t focus on where you’re not (famous or A-list writer)—focus on where you’re at—hopefully screenwriting. Regardless of success or experience, we’re all equals in front of that blank page channeling the muse.”—Scriptcat
“So give yourself that chance to put together the 80, 90 pages of a draft and then read it very in a nice little ceremony, where you’re comfortable, and you read it and make good notes on it, what you liked, what touched you, what moved you, what’s a possible way, and then you go about on a rewrite.”—Francis Ford Coppola “People really are afraid to find out just how much hardship and poverty they can stand. They are afraid to find out how tough they are. Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich.”—William Faulkner “Writers, like most human beings, are adaptable creatures. They can learn to accept subordination without growing fond of it. No writer can forever stand in the wings and watch other people take the curtain calls while his own contributions get lost in the shuffle.”—Rod Serling
“Collaborative effort requires sharing that tiny little space which we reserve for ourselves. We’ve got to bring it out and share it for a while, even if we put it back afterward.”—Stanley Kramer