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I thought about posting this in the Writer's Corner, but since most of the folks who are serious about success in their career spend some time here, I thought this was more appropriate.
I had an important lesson underscored to me this weekend. I am developing a project that has some interest out west. It's a great concept, with franchise opportunities and it is getting some attention. Some of the folks I am working with out there sent me some notes on my treatment recently. They had a lot of good points, but they also had some suggestions that I thought were nuts.
Since the folks I am working with have a lot of experience at this, I reluctantly decided to implement what they suggested.
It didn't work. Want to know why?
Because I was reluctant!
I spent about 24 hours whining like a baby about how they didn't "get" what I was trying to do, dragging my feet about seeing any other possibility. I was hammering away at the keyboard, subconsciously looking for every roadblock I could to their strategy. What a waste of time.
But then I thought..."What if?" It was a crack in my armor, which led to a rapid, but still painfully incremental, chain of ideas that opened up some great new possibilities. I am guessing that I am going to give them some stuff that follows Haylar's advice: When you get notes, give them back something better than they were asking for. You CANNOT do that if you do not embrace their suggestions. If you do it half-assed it will never work. I completely threw myself behind their ideas, and I think the results of that enthusiasm will show.
Don't get me wrong, I still think my original idea is more interesting in many ways. But their way has become pretty damned good, and is without a doubt more marketable. I'm also not saying that you shouldn't stand up for your own ideas. I did that as well, and much of what I fought for they agreed with.
The point of all this is simply this: Ask yourself, when someone is giving you points or notes about your script or your film, do you really listen? No, I mean REALLY listen. I don't mean nod your head and walk away thinking "they don't get what I'm doing". Do you take their notes and really think them through, asking yourself what that would look like if you put all of your creative energies behind it to make it work? Do you do that?
If you do, I am guessing that not only you will be one of the ones that gets a nice paycheck someday, but you will also exponentially improve your ability to write and create.
If you don't (and most people never will...even if they think they do), you will always be one of those people who puts the blame on other people for not understanding their scripts or films.
Embrace the possibilities. It stings, but anything that helps you grow usually does.
THIS NEVER ENDS! (and that's a good thing....even though it can be frustrating at times)
Case in point: I was asked to do a take on a property that had some interest in L.A. They liked the characters and basic plot, as well as some of the set pieces, but they were looking for a slightly different spin.
So as I was going through that process there were some choices I made that I thought would be very effective. During a call over the weekend it was suggested to me that I keep this one element because it was pretty cool and would be a part of the marketing package. While agreed with that opinion, it was something I had abandoned early on because it would have been contrary to what I feel is an essential character choice I made.
But I didn't say the second part to the person on the other end of the phone. I just told them that I agreed how great it would be to keep it in there.
Then I hung up the phone and cursed myself for being in another situation where I had two mutually exclusive ideas.
But that's because I hadn't really thought about it. So, I followed my own advice and really got behind the idea. What do you think happened? That's right. It was a great idea that not only could be fit back into the story, but it actually gave me some more effective visual opportunities, allowed for some better character connections and it ties a few things together that introduces the mythology of the story to a wider world.
It just took some re-thinking on my part. Which is something that never would have happened if I got caught in the "They don't get what I'm trying to do" or "what do they know?" traps.
Embrace the possibilities folks. Listen when you get feedback. Don't give it a cursory, dismissive glance. If you don't learn to do this, you will not get where you want to go. It's really that simple.