10 Things I Hate About You
Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles: 10 Things

I Hate About You

Don’t take it personally.

You think your creative writing teacher was mean?

Getting critiqued by most producers and executives is like standing

there naked while they point out all your flaws (see Emily Mortimer’s

bare-all scene in Lovely & Amazing for an apt comparison).

My advice is lay out in the sun a lot, so your skin gets nice and


Fishing for compliments.

Never expect producers or executives-or even your

own representatives-to say nice things about your script. That’s

not their job. Their job is to identify problems or weak spots in

the material in order to prove that they deserve their job.

Furthermore, if no one calls you after you’ve turned

in your script, don’t call them! Go on vacation! Trust me-your producer

isn’t sitting in her office trying to think of ways to tell you

how much she loves your work.

Choose your producers wisely.

Before giving your favorite idea to a producer you’ve

only met once, investigate her or him. A producer can always fire

a writer, but a writer can never fire a producer.

Build your legacy wisely.

Since it usually takes as much time and effort to

get a rewrite job as it takes to sell your own idea, consider focusing

primarily on projects that you generate (whether it’s an original

idea or an adaptation). Not all screenwriters feel this way, but

I think spending your best years rewriting other people’s mediocre

scripts only means one thing: precious time taken away from telling

the stories you want to tell and writing the movies you want to


Talk the talk.

Producers, studio executives and development folks

have their own special development lingo, peppered with phrases

like “character arc,” “mid-point” and “set-piece”. Call it D-bonics.

If you learn to speak it, especially in relation to your own script,

it shows them that you’re on their side-a mandatory step in getting

them to champion your project.

Walk the walk.

Try and make yourself as business-savvy as possible.

If you can discuss directors, actors, marketing strategies and other

“producerial” aspects with some degree of fluency, it’s yet another

way to show your collaborators that you’re an indispensable part

of the team and that firing you would be a hideous mistake.