Script changes at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 14th, 2005, 06:24 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: London
Posts: 189
Script changes

How do you approach a writer when you have their script but want to change things. How much can you get away with by just shooting it and editing it to make it how you want it. Or should every change be suggested to the writer so that he can make the changes. What if they do not agree with the changes and won't make them...?

What's the etiquette on this?
Justin Morgan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2005, 08:21 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
Well, in commercial production, (union) there is a specified rate for rewrites and polishes. Beyond that, if you can't get what you want from the writer, since you BOUGHT the screenplay and own it outright, you are free to hire someone to come in and do a re-write and polish. Often, a writers contract will indicate either a specific number of drafts, rewrites and polishes or it will specifically indicate that if after a certain number of rewrites the director is not happy, he will bring in somebody else.

I was watching the "Untouchables" the other night with the directors notes on the bottom. Mamet wouldn't do any more re-writes so De-palma tried to write a scene they needed in the railroad station. There was NO WAY the dialogue was going to match Mamets... so they created the whole silent staircase/baby carriage homage to Potemkin scene. Worked fantastic!

In non-union shoots... which is what I am sure you are doing, you're free to negotiate whatever the two of you decide. Of course, often there is little or no money at stake, but lots of ego and possibly a friendship. This then, becomes a social negotiation rather than an economic one.

Always best to set these things out before hand. In my two screenplay options (which were not union) The rewrites and the incentives to do them were written into the contracts/options. Sometimes, its not a matter of money only, but screen credit. As long as a writer keeps re-writing, he gets sole credit. Once someone else comes in, the sole credit is gone.

EDIT: Justin, just reread your post, and thought I would make the answer more concise. When you purchase the script, you own it. You are free to do whatever you want with it. The courteous thing to do is ask the writer for changes. If they won't change it, ask someone else and pay THEM for it.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2005, 09:45 AM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Albany, NY 12210
Posts: 2,650
I cannot stress enough the importance of setting the ground rules before shooting anything, assuming, as Richard points out, that the writer hasn't been bought off already. It needs to be established up front, and bluntly, exactly how many liberties the director can take with the script, and who will be doing rewrites. The writer and director both need the opportunity to accept or reject each other's expectations. This can really blow up in your face if it isn't handled right.
Marco Leavitt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2005, 10:06 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Albany, NY 12210
Posts: 2,650
Justin,
I see that your initial question was how to approach the writer. Almost to a person, every writer I've ever met is immediately defensive about criticism of their work. I say this as someone who considers himself primarily a writer. In fact, I got into filmmaking as a way to get my own work produced and exert Godlike control over the way it is presented. I'm mostly joking, by the way, as my partner who directs my stuff has a very distinctive stamp. We have an agreement though -- what's on screen is her, and what comes out of people's mouths is me. There aren't a lot of directors who would put up with that, so I guess I'm pretty lucky. No doubt, you would consider me a very difficult person on your shoot.

So how does she get my stubborn, egotistical self to make changes? We talk about what isn't working, why, and what the changes would accomplish. We don't proceed until we're both happy with the script, and at that point, I consider it locked unless there's a damn good reason.

Whatever you do, don't say you're going to mess with someone's script "for the good of the movie." That is such an insult. Honestly, it is so condescending.
Marco Leavitt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 14th, 2005, 10:38 AM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: London
Posts: 189
Thanks for the advice guys - very helpful.
Justin Morgan is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:45 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network