Script Development – time for changes:
(a) “Used to be two people would come into a meeting and work on a script with you. Now eight people come into a meeting, and they’ve all got yellow pads, and they’ve all got their opinions, and most of their opinions are bad… they can’t judge anything that’s original or different. They can only relate to something they’ve seen before. There are so many people in these development jobs who have taken…classes, and read books on how to be a screenwriter, with rules and regulations about what has to happen by page thirty, and whatever. It’s really screwed up the whole development process…”
(b) “You have more and more people contributing input. For example, if you’re doing a script for a studio, you have notes that are coming not just from the executive and the executive’s assistant, but some of the other story people at the studio. So you may have notes that don’t even jibe with each other, let alone make sense to you as a writer. So you have to become a bit of a politician, because you can’t just ignore the notes.
First of all, try to understand the notes as much as possible… Then your biggest challenge is to figure out how you can do something that satisfies their needs without violating the spirit of what it is you’re trying to do.
But even that doesn’t finish the different levels of development that still lie ahead… Then you get a director, and the director has notes. Then you get an actor, and the actor has notes. It doesn’t even stop when you start shooting… It’s never really done until the movie’s done.”
Excerpted with quotes from (a) Larry Cohen & (b) David S. Ward
Tales from the Script (2010)