|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.