Read, Read, Read Your Boat. Wait.

In addition to producing, I do a little bit of writing as well- not as much or as often as I should be, but who is? Chad writes most of the narrative projects we end up producing, but I have my own film projects and I also do most of the copy that ends up on the website, and the scripts for most of our commercials.

Like California grueling, not real people grueling.

A lot of people starting out in the film business will spend a little time as an intern at some point and if you’re a budding writer, director, producer, etc., youʻll probably do script coverage at some point. It can be grueling work with low or no pay, is terribly taken advantage of and most everyone gets to a point where they’re pretty much over it. Depending on who it’s for though, this can be invaluable. For me it was. I’ve not only read literally hundreds of scripts, but also been forced to break down what I thought worked and what didn’t, what could make it better and why. Then I got feedback on my opinions. It wasn’t direct feedback of course (that’s rare if not nonexistent), but sometimes you can read between the lines. For instance, if someone whose opinion you respect continues to ask you for coverage or script doctoring, it can be a confidence builder in your ability to assess and analyze what you’re reading.

The point here is read scripts. Read a ton of scripts, as many as you can. A great benefit of being given scripts is you’re going to see a wide range of quality, which over time help you start to recognize what separates the wheat from the chaff. Recognizing the relative quality of your own scripts is a whole other skill, but this is a great start.

If you’re not being fed endless heaps of un-produced material by someone with no regard for labor laws, read what’s already out there. You can buy scripts online or at a store like Samuel French, but they’re available online as well. Here are a few links:

Another cool benefit of reading scripts that have been produced is you can watch the film and see how it went from page to screen. Maybe a few scenes didn’t make it into the final cut. Maybe the pacing is different. Maybe the actors brought qualities to the character you hadn’t read. All great food for filmmaker thought.

Something else

The other day I read the script for Beasts of The Southern Wild. If you haven’t seen it, please do. It’s available on Netflix Instant (although I am so glad I caught it in the theaters) and while it’s not a perfect movie, it is stunning and beautiful and  there were so many moments that took my breath away. I mean come on, when Hushpuppy imagines her mama walking by the stove burners- does it get more romantic than that? One thing I noticed after reading the script though was that the dynamics in the relationship between Hushpuppy and Wink weighed much more heavily onto his trying to instill confidence and teach her to care for herself. That quality was present in the produced film, but in my opinion Wink seemed quite a bit more neglectful. As always, these are the conclusions I came to- you may have a completely different analysis after reading/watching. The point is that you do it.

This is actually a gif.

If you want a great place to start, here are a bunch of Oscar contenders, including Beasts of The Southern Wild:

I look forward to reading Snow White and The Huntsman- I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it a lot more without Kristen Stewart’s sourpuss ruining my day.



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