Thanksgiving. One of my personal favorite holidays. Being thankful for our family and friends and work and eating. Love the eating part. And as I use the treadmill in my office and actually try to shed some of this poundage in advance of next year’s grueling schedule, (Thank You God), I am mindful that I have to eat and drink less. But not on Thanksgiving.
So, in that spirit, I present my let’s be thankful, writing edition.
I am thankful for:
My wife and family for their support over all the years I made zero money doing this. Enough said. I’ll tell them the rest in person.
This year. It has been amazing for the friends and colleagues who have supported and believed in what I do on the page. The Development Execs who trust me with their assignments and rewrites. To take their notes and implement them, still keeping the integrity of the story. The directors who were open to my thoughts about story.
The producers who actually like my stories enough to pay me for them whether in an option or a sale, you have no idea how wonderful you are. Now make the films, ok?
Jay Lowi. You are a frickin’ saint. And I loves you man.
My manager, John McGalliard. In and out of the hospital this year and taking calls and making deals in the recovery room. The man is a monster. Now get me some more jobs.
Jeff Willis. Production Company Exec and my sometime writing partner. And good friend. We sold a script and the film got made this year. A miracle we got to see and get paid for. Plus it turned out to be a good film. It’ll be out next year.
The BSides – Ok... not writing but the rock band I play in. My great friend Dave. Tom, Gary, & Stew. May not be writing, but playing music keeps me sane. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy new guitars.
Andre. My friend. Brother. Uncle. Weirdness. Enough said.
The writers I commiserate with. Old friends. New friends. You know who you are. You are indispensable to me. Don’t change. Don’t go anywhere, except up. I wish all my writer friends nothing but success. And for the ones already successful, continued upward success.
I’m thankful I was talked by friends into writing this blog. They thought I had something to say about writing. And people have responded with nothing but positive messages back. Thank you for that.
To the people who have reposted and supported the Blog this year. Scott Myers, thank you. Paul Zeidman. Jeanne Bowerman. Ben Kay. To name but a few.... thanks.
I’m thankful for work. Right now I’m rewriting an original script I sold from a pitch. And this part of the blog should be instructive. I gave the pitch in a meeting, promptly forgot about it when I heard nothing back for months. Heard even later from the Production Company that they loved it and wanted to buy it. I had no notes, no story, no nothing. And I had four weeks to write the first draft.
Note: I NOW KEEP COPIOUS NOTES ON ANYTHING I PITCH OR SAY IN PRODUCTION COMPANY MEETINGS. Learn from this.
Ten months later the company had me in for a notes meeting with my Development Exec, who is GREAT by the way. Yes, it took ten months from my four week deadline to get back to me. And... She was very positive that my script needed some tweaking. Like throw it out, keep the premise, and rewrite the whole damn thing tweaking. From a whole other angle. It was a spirited meeting and she, of course, was correct. And by the time we were done with the meeting I was thinking that all the notes were my ideas anyway.
This leads me to my point, which as I think about oyster dressing and pumpkin pie, has taken me a while to get to. Not all notes are bad. Many of them are good. Some of them are excellent. These kinds of notes can make you look like a better writer if you’re open enough to realize it. Being an open minded collaborative writer will win you a career in this business. They’ll want you back because you understand the process. This is important.
You will also get crazy, insane, what the hell did you just say, notes too. But as I’m sure you heard before, it’s important even with these kinds of notes to try and find the note behind those notes. What they’re really saying. So you, as an incredibly creative writer, can implement the spirit of those notes rather than the exact story killing note. (or implement the other notes so well, they’ll forget they gave you the crazy one you ignored).
Plus, if you are perceived as a cooperative writer, you can argue your side of any note. You can’t be afraid of doing this. And knowing your story inside and out and all your characters so well that you can say what they’d do in any situation, even one not in your story, goes a long way to you being able to argue against a suggested sex scene that would ruin the film.
However, if they are paying you, they always have the last word. So make it a good sex scene if you have to. If you don’t they’ll just hire me to. And remember, I want you to succeed.
So... I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. Eat, drink lots of wine, hug your family and friends. Then on Friday, instead of fighting the thousands of crazies out shopping, go write. And be thankful that you’ve got that desire.