Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Will Not Read Your F---ing Script

Josh Olson's "I Will Not Read Your F---ing Script" - why asking for notes might be a much bigger favor than you realize.

I can't say I agree with everything he says, but he makes a lot of excellent points.

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Little Miss Nomad said...

Yeah, Josh Olson has such a tough life. Please.
Though he is right about how it seems like everyone thinks they can be a screenwriter in this town without actually being a writer.

samuel.x.killer said...

begs the question though - how would you approach a professional writer for notes? certainly some pros have given some aspiring writers their thoughts... what's the best way to go about it?

Amanda said...

@Sam -

You're right. I would say, wait until the professional writer offers. This does happen; it's happened to me twice at least. Develop a relationship, and if they like you, maybe they will offer. Too many aspirers meet a pro and then immediately ask for a favor like getting a script read. Don't think about like "ooh, what can I get out of this person?" - because that does make you the dick that Josh talks about. Think about it in terms of developing relationships. Certainly everyone is different. I think you can kind of feel out who would be happy to read your stuff and who would consider it a burden.

Amy R. Butler said...

If I had just met a professional screenwriter, I don't think I could work up the guts to ask them for a read because even I don't like to do reads for my friends all the time. Some of us do realize it's an imposition.

My aunt once met a pro screenwriter and carefully worked in there that I was studying it at school, and he offered her his number so I could call him and meet up with him to talk about the craft. So I did, and at the end of that meeting, I asked him if he would do a read for me. He said he would, and then asked me what I had. I threw some things out there, but the truth was I didn't really have anything read to be read by an A-list pro at that time, so he told me to wait until I had something really read and then send it to him.

I'm saving that read. It's a one shot with people who read your scripts, and I want to make it count. I don't want my reader to have the same attitude Olson has, so my script better be up to the standards that he himself writes.

It might take a while, but reads from professionals *are* valuable and aspiring writers should treat them as such.

ChedderHed said...

I read this elsewhere, and have to agree with Little Miss Nomad. While much (not all) of what he says is valid, he is SO fortunate to be the only writer in history to start his career at the top, never needing input from anyone. How quickly they forget.

DEV said...

While I do think the tone is a bit harsh, to be fair, Josh Olson has clearly worked his but off to get where he is. You look at his credits and he was doing all sorts of crew positions in the 80s before getting his first writing credit in 1998. It looks like he was able to break in by working hard, and not because he had some sort of friendly connection, so it's understandable if he is turned off by those who aren't willing to bust their ass like he did.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chub to Chic in Chicago said...

i like his comparisons ... it's one thing to ask a friend to help you move if you have a mini-van, but imposing on their profession - something they are normally paid to do. it's difficult for a writer to give "a discount" like a car salesman could. writing is not quite as tangible as a service or sales profession.

and for the snark, well it is in the village voice, right?

Dzof said...

It takes me an hour to write notes on a half-hour show, and I normally have piles of stuff to read for work.

Anything anybody else wants me to comment on is clearly me doing a favour for them.

Of course, if what I read is fun and entertaining, then it's the other way round.

LazyWriterOnTheTV said...

Lets face it. Nobody asks a professional screenwriter to read their script and expects JUST feedback. They do it in the hope that the writer will think the script is the most brilliant thing they've ever read and do whatever it takes to get that thing sold/get you signed/get you on staff.

We really are in a lose-lose situation. Good feedback = the expectation of what are you going to do for me next, bad feedback = thanks anyway but your opinion sucks.

I got my first gig by hearing on the grapevine (networking) that a show was looking for male writers, phoning, emailing and creating relationships (networking) but above all being professional and not pushy. And persisting.

It might be a bit different in Australia but jobs are just as scarce and the same principles apply. I play the nice guy card a lot and it works to keep me in work better than anything I know.

Unfortunately that doesn't extend to reading stuff from people I barely know. I just don't have the time and, I'm sorry to say, it doesn't put food on my table.

Dan Williams said...

Josh got pushed too far, it seems, and so he went into a rant with this article. What that tells me is that he hasn't yet resolved his feelings. He feels guilty if he does read the script and guilty if he doesn't. He blames the aspiring writer for his own feelings and for putting him in this position and wants to change them rather than changing his own outlook. All he has to do, when asked to read a script, etc, is to say he's not a reader, and he doesn't know how to critique a script. That's not his job, he's a writer. But he might refer the person to a friend who will read scripts for a hundred bucks. Situation resolved, he's not the bad guy anymore, no guilt, and the aspiring writer has a choice to make, to pay the money or not.

I have to admit, though, I have a lot of sympathy for Josh. We all rant sometime or other.