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Monday, May 03, 2010

What's that? Sunlight?!


My NSI application is done - like, 'wow, this is really freaking good!' done.

Seriously. I'm all proud and stuff.

This whole last weekend was a testament to sitting down, putting my nose to the grindstone and just trying to get'r done. Things were 'done' but not 'finished' you know?

Heck, even Sunday night I was doing another pass over my pilot script, making sure as much of it as possible was as perfect as possible; incorporating last-minute notes and finding grammar mistakes or dialogue to punch up or ways to make things clearer.

Sometimes it's as simple as the order of a sentence.

One line that reads perfectly fine to me ('cause I wrote it) but confuses the heck out of someone who, well, isn't me.

It's something that my producer has no qualms telling me about.

And really, that's just one of the many reasons why she's top notch; why, if nothing else, this whole application process has been such a phenomenal experience for me.

As someone who's always sort of toiled alone, I feel very privileged to have met someone who not only understands what my show is about but is as excited and passionate about it as I am.

As a team we've adopted a motto -- it's simple, and it's one that I've learned from listening to much wiser people than myself, but it works:

"The show comes first. Always."

What that's meant for us as a team is that when it's time to work, our egos are left at the door. There are no 'yeah but!' or 'you can't' moments - our response thus far has always been a very predictable "okay, how can we make it better?"

And through that we've come to a place of mutual trust - we get each other and we get that we're both here to put the show on a pedestal. Every idea, even the not-so-good ones (and we both have them) are valuable. They all lead us somewhere good eventually.

Thus, when my producer has notes for me I look at them as if she's trying to help make the show better.

And she is. And she does.

My job as a writer is to, yes, tell a great story first but I also have to make things as crystal clear and easy to follow as possible; whether it's for the reader or the 100+ people who may come along and try to realize this crazy fever-dream of ours.

I figure that, hey, if she's bumping on something or is confused by something then it's on me to make sure it makes sense.

There's no anger or resistance there. It's my job. (and I love my job!)

When she offers a note and I don't quite feel that it works, I talk to her and try to understand what's really important about it - what's at the heart of it.

And we can do that, talk to each other honestly, because we've created an environment that allows for it; we built that foundation, that trust in each other, first.

[SIDE NOTE]: Again, this is all stuff I've learned over the years by listening to advice from wise, wise people like Mr. Denis McGrath and Mr. Peter Mitchell at their various public appearances - it wasn't hard to implement, it just took a genuine want from both sides. [/side note]

For example, one last-minute note I had about my script was that I had this big moment set up and I had my main character say "and I know just where to get it" before storming off with purpose to take on the bad guy.

She felt I shouldn't have them say anything at all, just give a determined look and head off.

So I tried writing it that way.

But I found it still needed something. It needed a recognition or a statement or a reaction that was verbal. It was too jarring otherwise.

What was her note really about? Well, in this case, she (and such is her gift as a note-giver) told me exactly what she felt the problem was.

She said she felt like the dialogue was too much of a setup. That it came off like "haha look how clever I am going to be".

Essentially, that I'd get a better 'reveal' if I didn't push it so much.

So, with that in mind I went back and re-wrote that scene. I pulled it back and changed it to 'a scowl' and a very simple but determined "Okay".

The result? When the 'reveal' comes, it IS a stronger scene. When I showed it to my producer? She thought it was great too - a full-on thumbs-up.

The intention of her note had been realized, I had found a way to make it work AND the script was stronger for it.

Can't argue with that.

All-in-all, I've gotta say that it's such a refreshing feeling to have someone in my corner on this; both of us cheering each other on and helping to make the show the best it can be.


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