Friday, September 10, 2010


Okay. So let's talk about manners. Manners are the way you present yourself to the industry. What raises this topic? Lemme tell ya a story. Pull up a chair...

I was contacted by an up-and-coming, would-be producer who wanted his script polished, so that he could pitch it to a broadcaster. That sounds reasonable. He represented himself to me as being an experienced animation producer - but something was fishy. What he said, didn't add up. In a few minutes, he confessed that he was really in fact, a first-year animation student who wanted to pitch a show.

I have to confess that I too, was once an eager young filmmaker - ready to take on the world...

Okay... so he emails over his script. I read it. It was "okay". Not great. Not stinky. Just "okay". I asked what his intended use would be for the finished film - Is this a student project? Or is this a promo film for a pitch?

You see - if this is a student project, the script would be fine with some tiny cosmetic changes. But if he's pitching this in a professional arena, he's talking on everyone in the world to make that TV sale - and his script needs to be GREAT! "Okay" won't do. He said that this was intended to be a professional pitch. I told him that it needed some work and suggested that he read THE SCREENWRITER'S PROBLEM SOLVER by Syd Field and watch DUCK SOUP by The Marx Bros. Honestly - that's good advice that I'd recommend to everyone.

Our young would-be producer told me that another screenwriter had read his script and thought it was fine as-is. I agreed that everyone was entitled to their opinion and wished him well.

End of story, or so I thought.

The next night, the young would-be producer called me. He had the other screenwriter on the line - demanding to know exactly how I thought the young producer's script could be improved. He thought it was fine! Then he demanded to know my credits. What I'd written, what I'd sold, when and to which studio...

What a complete yutz. I hung up on both of them. Then I sent the would-be producer a note, instructing him never to contact me again.

Okay guys. Here's the thing: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. When you combine that with the sage wisdom that "Nobody Knows Anything" - you get some key information. What I like, may not be someone else's cup of tea. And vice versa. The other screenwriter thought it was fine - I thought it needed work. Both opinions are valid... BUT...

If someone turns you down, thank them for their time and insight - THEN LEAVE.

DO NOT EVER trot out your own expert/mother/teacher to argue with the person who has turned you down. That is the epitome of amateur-hour behavior. You will never get another meeting with your contact - and you will get a bad reputation in the industry - FAST.

Consider this a Public Service.

Now, I may be entirely wrong. The kid might be a genius. His film might be Oscar caliber material (I've been wrong in the past - but not often) and in two years time, he'll be wagging it in my face, going "Nyah Nyah Nyah... Told ya so!" But in this case, I don't think so.


  1. If he thinks its so good, why isn't he pitching it? It sounds like he wants his ego stroked by having everyone tell him how great he is.

  2. He wants everyone to agree that its a good script.

  3. For the record, I did not just 'blow this guy off' and send him on his way. I explained how he could improve his script, detailing exactly what needed to be done to improve the plot, character and dialogue. I did take time to try and help this aspiring, would-be producer.

  4. Sounds like a nutter to me. Actually, the other so-called professional seems even more crazy. He's never had anyone disagree with him on a professional level...and he's a screenwriter? Has he actually sold anything!!!!

  5. The other screenwriter has had projects sold and produced. That's what struck me as so odd. He challenged me to a pissing contest. To be honest, the entire "adventure" - the project under discussion wasn't worth it.

    And yes - people are allowed to have their own opinions. We certainly don't have to agree on what is good or bad. The odd thing is that the script in question was barely proficient.