Monday, August 31, 2009

The Writing Week (Vol. 2) part 87 - Ahead of Schedule for the Competitve September Spec Market

When last I spoke to my producer and manager, we agreed that I would get them what is hopefully the last rewrite by September 1st. That's tomorrow.

The more I focused on the job ahead of me, the less daunting the task seemed. The larger rewrites shrunk as things clicked more and more. Before I knew it, I was targeting August 26th for my final rewrites and giving myself the 27th and 28th to re-read everything before sending. On Friday the 28th, I shot the "final" major rewrite for this stage of the script off to the producer and the manager.

This process has taught me a few things, and reminded me of others. For one, it's great to have a deadline. I usually approach rewrites by starting with a very cursory grammar and spelling check. That gets the ball rolling on prepping myself for making some actual changes. With a tight deadline, though, the comfort of doing those superficial (and sometimes meaningless, once scenes are cut) changes is gone. Only having time to focus on the actual rewrites with one proofing round at the end forces attention. I usually try to avoid the meat of a rewrite as long as possible, but this week, it was all business all the time.

Another thing I've been thinking about a lot is deadlines. September 1st was a nice round deadline. Many production companies end their year in August, so I'm told, and have little to no cash left for acquiring material then. Come September, though, their bank accounts are open again (so-to-speak) and the buying begins. Add to that the fact that most execs and VPs take their vacation in August, and September becomes a highly competitive time in the spec market. It's our goal to be a part of the competition this year. It was my goal to make that as much of a reality as possible, so I pushed myself to beat the deadline and give the producer and manager more time to read and, therefore, give myself more time for any final tweaks they feel necessary.

That brings me to the last point. Though this will hopefully sound intuitive to most of you, re-reading your material is essential. And I'm not just talking about for typos and grammar - if you don't reread for editing purposes, though, you should probably re-think your career choice. It's important to go through for other reasons, too. Did you make every single change you meant to? If you cut a character, did you cut him/her everywhere, or does their name pop up somewhere. Same with changing a character or location name. Make sure the old is fully flushed away. Also, depending on your method of sending - do you email your contacts scripts in Movie Magic, Final Draft, or pdf format - check the final version. I once sent Onyx a pdf created from Movie Magic, which I use, only to discover that 5 pages had been corrupted. I now scan every single page before sending anything out.

These things might seem small and very "Screenwriting 101," but at a certain point, they become just as important as the content on the page. Make sure the presentation is as flawless as can be, and take the extra hour or so to do so.

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