You’ve got a script you’re quite excited about. You’ve slaved away on it and now can’t wait to show it off to the rest of the world.
But you want to make sure it’s as good as it can be, and that means getting feedback.
Who do you ask?
A – a professional script consultant
B – somebody in your network of writers
C – a total stranger you just met. Like, minutes ago
And the answer is…?
Okay. Pencils down.
It would be nice to think that common sense, logic, and professionalism would influence your answer.
A and B are both correct.
Unfortunately, there are some who think it’s C, and are very adamant about that decision.
I was recently on the receiving end of such a scenario. A writer had asked to connect on a social media platform, I accepted, and within a matter of minutes received links to a trailer and pitch deck for their script.
I responded with a blunt “thanks”, to which they said they were looking for help to improve the script.
I said I’d try to think of some suggestions for consultants and services they could check out.
They were hoping I’d do it, to which I responded “I charge for notes too”.
They took that as “I accept your offer, and will now work with you!” and sent an NDA for me to sign.
I’m sure you can guess what my reaction to that was.
I tried to end it by saying that starting a connection with “Thanks! Read my stuff! Help me!” was not the way to go. Shockingly, they failed to get the point and kept going.
There were a few other issues that came up, so let’s just say the rest of our exchange proceeded to go downhill like an out-of-control bobsled on fire.
FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD – DON’T DO THIS!!
I get it. The enthusiasm. The heightened adrenaline. The hope/daydream that anybody who reads your script will immediately proclaim it “best ever!”
What a lot of writers, both new and those still learning, fail to comprehend is that part of being successful at screenwriting is establishing and maintaining professional relationships. You can’t just jump right in with a total stranger and say “You don’t know me, but I want you to help me”.
Would you want to be on the receiving end of that? Of course not. So why do some writers feel it’s a savvy move? If anything, you’re sabotaging yourself before you even get started.
It’s essential to take the time to build your personal network, and one of the key phrases here is “take the time”. Nothing happens in the blink of an eye. It requires patience, tact, and civility.
Putting in the time and effort to be a good screenwriter isn’t only about the writing. Knowing how to play well with others is just as important.
Be nice to people. Treat them how you’d want to be treated. Help them out if/when you can.
Then you meet for drinks.
That’s how you do it.