Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Filmmaker's Life: Win A Screenwriter's Package!

So, as part of a screenwriters package that includes a free copy of Final Draft, Dramatica, and a fully cast table read, I'm giving away a free screenwriting consultation. Click the link below for details.

A Filmmaker's Life: Win A Screenwriter's Package!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Filmmaker Finds -- July 18th Edition!

Another Blog Post by Levin Menekse

Hello folks,

As you may know, Sean loved Under The Skin and even wrote an article about it. He praised the movie for its creative use of the visual language and its unrelenting refusal to resolve its enigmatic aura. Here is a video essay that details the tools and methods used in the movie and why it's different than other contemporary movies. Beware: The video does give away some of the movie's iconic visuals and its ending, but Under the Skin is really more of an experience than your standard narrative feature film, so I think it will be perfectly fine to watch this video without having had seen the movie. Here you go.

Last week, we took a look at Lance Dustin Black's insanely intimidating creative process. This week, we have a much more free-form approach from Mike White, who is unfortunately known more for Nacho Libre when he should be known for his HBO series Enlightened which was a great show that had a quiet, unique, emphatic tone TV landscape is missing these days. Here, now you can watch him awkwardly sit around his apartment and stare into empty space as he details his creative process!

Lastly, here is some sage advice about how you can develop your unique voice and, to top it off, its wrapped in the delicious comedy of Steven Wright! You're probably going to recognize him when you see him as "that guy who never, ever smiles."

I can't say I loved his Oscar-Winning short film that is featured in this article, but I found the article itself remarkable for its advice. My favorite portion was:

"Some novice filmmakers have always convinced themselves that the way to the top is through so-called ‘production values,’ shorthand usually for sequences that add nothing to the film but which cover up for any narrative deficiency (they hope) and, you know, look “cool.” I will say confidently, here, that the “cool” is the enemy of the “great.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this advice and direct you to the article from which it originated.

The short-film of the week isn't an easy watch. It begins in a deliberate, slow pace but I assure you that it has a chilling pay-off. Simply put: It's about a lonely office drone who finds the suicide video of a man who taped his last day on Earth. Our protagonist, the office drone, gets obsessed with why this man decided to kill himself and starts watching the video over and over again, looking for clues... Without spoiling anything, this eighteen minute short movie's last two minutes filled me with more existential dread than the last 30 feature-length horror movies I watched combined. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here it is.

Alright folks, hope you have had and will have a great week! Take care!

Levin Menekse

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday Filmmaker Finds - July 10th Edition!

Yet another blog by Levin Menekse

Hello everyone, nice to see you again for another edition of Friday Filmmaker Finds!

This week, we have it all! Inspiration, intimidation and some practical advice!

Let's begin with intimidation because that's just the funnest way, no? Take a look at this picture below:

His name is Dustin Black and he won an Oscar for writing Milk. This is his writing process. He works more than 12 hours a day. He has cabinets full of research documents and talks about how he, on average, researches for a year on each project. This is him talking about his creative process.

Are you intimidated? I am. I feel flimsy compared to this guy's work ethic and dedication.

Well, let's make it more fun: Do you have any colorful quirks or unique ways you approach your creative process? I'll start: I listen to Black Metal to drown out the outside noise and can't write in public because I end up head-banging unconsciously. Your turn!

Secondly, some practical advice. Maybe you've heard of the Potato Salad Guy. Here is the picture with which he raised 45 thousand dollars because he wanted funding to make a Potato Salad:

Are you saying "What the fuck? I couldn't get 5k for my meaningful indie film and this guy gets 45k FOR A POTATO SALAD?!" or "Wow, this guy is a marvelous magician, how the hell did he do it because I sure would like me some 45k worth of Potato Salad!" here is a very practical and insightful essay by Ferrett Steinmetz on this Potato Salad Phenomenon.

By the way, I love that under "Risks and Challenges" the Potato Salad Guy simply states: "It might not be good. It's my first Potato Salad."

Finally, here is some inspiration mixed with intimidation. I've seen it before but I'm highlighting it again because it was on cinearchive over the weekend: Here is Paul Thomas Anderson directing Magnolia.

Now, I know this is more than an hour long and it's not easily consumed. But I genuinely believe it's worth your time. See, Paul Thomas Anderson was 29 when he made Magnolia. Magnolia is definitely one of the most ambitious movies EVER made. It's a 188 minute juggernaut with nine intersecting stories and it balances a variety of tones while touching crazy-hard-to-pull-off subject matters like child molestation, drug addiction and death of an estranged parent. It's such a go-for-broke project that even if you don't like it, you must at least respect the sheer audacity of attempting such an insane thing.

And this documentary really goes into the creative process of such a crazy film; Anderson shares his doubts and hopes and while we will never possess his incredible mind, it might at least inspire us a little bit. Well, and intimidate us, obviously. I'm 27. PTA was nominated for an Academy Award when he was my age. That will keep me up tonight. Here is Tom Cruise quietly judging me.

And, to spare you further rumination and existential aggravation, this week's short is easily consumable, colorful and somewhat fun. I don't want to ruin anything about it, except to say please watch the whole thing because there is a pay-off. Here is Voice Over.

Alright, hope you enjoyed it folks! See you next week! Leave comments, share it with your friends and all that jazz!

- Levin Menekse

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Give Feedback

Another Blog by Levin Menekse
Hello guys and gals, welcome to the flip-side of my earlier article: "Getting and Processing Feedback"

On first impression, giving feedback seems like an altruistic thing to do. You're helping someone else, right? It's a good, nice thing, like helping an old lady cross a street. Well, not to appeal to your selfish nature or anything, but it's actually more than that. Giving great feedback is essential to your growth as a screenwriter.

First of all, we have established previously in the "Getting and Processing Feedback" article that you need a collective of Writers to get notes from so that you can become a better writer. And, well, you reap what you sow. People are much more likely to be engaged with your material if you are engaged with theirs. If you are in a Writer's Group situation and you realize that everyone is surfing the web while your script is being discussed, either you are the only decent person in a circle of assholes or... you might be the asshole who does the same while theirs are discussed and what you are getting is your comeuppance.

                                               Pictured: Not a good feedback session.

Secondly, half of the jobs in the industry are "re-write" jobs. This means you will be handed a piece of material and then asked your "take" on it. So, say, a production company is remaking Lord of Rings for the new generation and they already have a script, but they want it to be more "hip" in order to capture the imaginations of young people. What you will need to do is to read the script, deconstruct it and basically tell them what you found lacking and what you would improve. In these situations, you will use the same set of muscles you use when you're giving feedback. So, flex those suckers!

"The script DEFINITELY needs more of Legolas skating down the stairs. Young people love that shit!"

Okay, you convinced me. How about some pointers?

- Respect the Writer's Vision: Some movies are action blockbusters (Transformers), some movies are witty romantic comedies (High Fidelity) and some movies are existential ruminations about our quotidian life and what it means to be a human being. (The Room)

While giving notes, remember that you're trying to support the Writer to achieve his/her particular goal. Don't go into "This is what I would've done" mode and impose your vision onto theirs. Yes, maybe you believe the world doesn't need another Adam Sandler vehicle and you think this particular story would be much better if the protagonist slipped and fell into a volcano filled with battery acid... but don't say that. If the person you're giving feedback to is writing that kind of a movie... Then that's what you're working with. Accept it and do your best. Help the writer make his/her story the best story of its kind.


Give your feedback to the Work, not to the Writer: Yes, maybe you don't like the cut of that fucker's jib, but don't be an asshole to his/her writing just to hurt him/her. On the other side of this coin, don't wear kid gloves and treat your best friend's script with utter reverence. Both attitudes are harmful in the long run and the only thing you should be concerned with is how you can improve upon the material you are presented with.

And most people aren't stupid, they know when they are targeted as opposed to their writing. (Pro life-tip: Even stupid people can tell that.) Don't poison the well, don't turn your Writer's Group into a bunch of people sniping at each other. In the professional world, you will work with a lot of people you don't necessarily mesh with, so it's a good idea to get used to it.

Be gentle: When you're giving feedback, it's some fragile shit you're dealing with. Months and months of work and the Writer's self-confidence could be on the line.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't be harsh on your critique, but package it nicely. Instead of saying: "Logically, your script makes no sense. That would be somewhat okay if your protagonist wasn't a deplorable piece of human garbage with whom the audience has no empathy. And, by the way, I enjoyed reading your climactic sequence as much as I enjoyed doing my taxes last year." try to say:

"You know that scene in the first act where Martin takes the eel and uses it as a lasso to choke his girlfriend to death? I kind of felt like that was a moment where my empathy with Martin broke. I think if you could let me glimpse into his mind more and understand why he decided to do that, then I think I could be on board with his journey more..."

Realize I didn't say anything about the problem with the climax or the logic holes in the script. It's because you don't want to just pile on your critique all at once. If a script is a mess, chances are other people are aware of it as well. If they're not, then next time you speak, maybe you talk about a sequence you enjoyed and why you enjoyed it before you point out another problem with the script.

It's phenomenally easy to come off as the "bad guy" in these kind of situations, so avoid that. Tell the truth, but in acceptable doses with a gentle style.

                       According to Google images this is what an "eel lasso" looks like

Tailor your Feedback to the situation at hand: Deadlines are a staple of this industry and to many people's creative processes, so chances are you will be asked to give feedback on a project that has to be delivered in a certain amount of time. Be diligent of this fact while you're delivering your notes. Don't give tectonic, structure-razing notes to someone who has a deadline in two days. Similarly, if someone has only a week to deliver a draft and s/he's on page 60, it's better to give feedback about the future of the script and not that one scene that bugs you back in the first act.

Don't drop big -ist Words: There are sensitive words that become even more sensitive in the context of a feedback session. For example, I've seen people call other people's material sexist, racist and other kind of -ist's. The problem with this is two-fold: First of all, whether you like it or not, you are calling the Writer an -ist of your choice as well and this violates the "Don't critique the Writer, critique the Work" rule. (Best case scenario, you're saying: "I know you're not a racist, but you might have accidentally been one while writing this script.") Secondly, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they have an endgame in mind that will subvert your expectations or maybe they tried that and failed. Hell, maybe they know more about the subject matter than you do.

There are many works of art that have been called an -ist of some kind -- lately, it's been the FX series Tyrant which has been called both racist and sexist -- and just because you think something is an -ist doesn't mean it is. Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right. And by dropping a big -ist word, you're essentially derailing the conversation. All of a sudden, anything the Writer is saying is being contextualized around your accusation. So, be very, very careful before saying something like that because it creates a toxic environment. You can definitely bring up your problems with the material without resorting to an -ist word.

Instead of saying: "This pilot is sexist because all women are depicted as sex objects." try to say: "I think your female characters can use more complexity and layers."
                                      Don't be this guy. Nobody likes this guy

And, finally... Share: Be open. If you have a great idea that could improve someone's script... Give it to them. Don't sit on your ideas because you think sometime in the future you might be able to use them for your own material. You have chosen these people to give/get feedback from for a reason and, to bring it back to the beginning, the more you give, the more you're going to get.

Well, that's all I have. Take care friends, hope you enjoyed this journey. If you have any feedback about this article, you're welcome to comment! Who knows, maybe I'll give you a feedback about your feedback and we'll forever be stuck in an everlasting feedback loop!

- Levin Menekse

Monday, July 7, 2014


In the past month, I've written about Creative Tribalism both in Genre Hacks and in Moviemaker Magazine, and I suggested that 21st century artists need to position themselves at the center of concentric circles of 30-100 people.  This digital tribe becomes the reliable, long-term source of creative fulfillment and spiritual meaning regardless of whether the writer, actor, or musician makes it big.

But how do we form these circles of deeply engaged tribespeople?

It's not easy. American consumers of art and entertainment are passive. They buy books, movie tickets, and downloads only when prompted by multimillion-dollar corporate marketing campaigns. They support the work of superstars with whom they will never interact. Online they are distracted by billions of competing memes, messages, and media-motes - a cacophony of voices all screaming over one another, "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!" The biggest obstacle in building an audience is getting anyone to pay attention.

The solution simply can't be more self-promotion, dogged networking and inbound marketing. If we want our audiences to spend a larger slice of their entertainment budget on small artists with whom they can have a direct relationship, we have to take a break from our relentless drive to be the center-of-attention.

Leading by example, we must become supportive and engaged tribespeople in circles other than our own.  As artists we must, first and foremost, show people what it means to be a patron.

A patron is neither a consumer of a product, nor a supporter of a cause, but rather someone who endorses and funds the work of an individual artist.  A patron spends $10 on a download (A book, a song, a movie, whatever) not necessarily for the product itself, but to directly support the people who made it.  What they get for their money is a relationship to the work and to the artists they admire.

Sadly, too many writers, filmmakers, and musicians (and I include myself in this criticism) busily ignore the work of other artists who desperately need their support. We all need to be better models of the kind of audience we want to attract for our own work.

Look around and ask yourself, whose work deserves wider notice?  Whose project needs your collaboration and endorsement? Whose Kickstarter campaign have you promoted other than your own? How many reviews of festival films or web series have you written just to trumpet the achievement of the people who made them? Do you spend time reading rough drafts, watching rough-cuts, and critiquing one-sheets so that you can offer your free advice and feedback?

How often to you post, tweet, comment, and blog about the creative work of others?

Being a patron means taking a break from writing your TV pilot, editing your micro-budget feature, or promoting your next gig. It means looking beyond yourself as the center of the creative universe. It means paying attention and reaching out. This is what we want our collaborators and audiences to do, so we should start by doing it ourselves.

Perhaps I'm writing this very article to challenge myself to practice what I preach: By being better tribespeople we take the first step in forming tribes of our own.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Friday Filmmaker Finds -- 4th of July Edition!

By Levin Menekse
Hello everyone, glad to have you back. If you are new, feel free to check out last week's edition.

So, this being the 4th of July, let's talk about America. And, well, what's more American than Michael Bay?

Michael Bay takes the center stage in this fascinating video essay by Tony Zhou. I know Michael Bay is a polarizing figure among the cinephiles; he's probably a symbol of everything that's... wrong. But no one can deny his box office report card. He's probably the most reliable moneymaker in Hollywood, second to James Cameron. So, I believe, for this reason alone he probably deserves some critical attention.

The most interesting thing Zhou does in his analysis of Bay's style is to contrast it with his inferior copycats, in this case Battleship, and explain why they fail. It's interesting to note that the director of Battleship, Peter Berg, is a much more acclaimed director compared to Bay. Berg directed the pilot of Friday Night Lights, which is considered one of the best TV pilots ever, and yet it's interesting to see him get contrasted with Bay and fall somehow short.

I also read this reddit comment the other day that made me curious:

" Michael Bay made the Got Milk? ads. He made the iconic Red Cross commercials and won a Clio award for them. Say whatever you want about him, but this guy is off the charts brilliant when it comes to understanding what people want. He's probably the closest thing to the omniscient Don Draper and probably possess an uncanny insight into the human psyche. You just don't get to be this successful to this extent this fast without brilliance. Look at his career. Smash hit after smash hit. He knows what his audience wants and delivers it."

Perhaps, at some level, this is true. Michael Bay is an expert at delivering what his audience wants, but, maybe, that's why most cinephiles hate him: Because he merely gives people what they want and that's not necessarily a good thing. What is your opinion on Bay? Do you like him or hate him? Or do you think he doesn't even deserve this discussion?

Our second link of the week is much more simpler, much more poetic. It's basically the cinematographer's reel of the best cinematographer alive: Roger Deakins. Let your eyes feast, my friends. The song that plays over the video is from the soundtrack of Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford, which is a beautiful and criminally underrated movie. It's the opposite of a Bay Film: It doesn't give the audience what it wants at all and subverts everything you would expect from a Western starring Brad Pitt as a gunslinger. Perhaps because of this, it literally made no money.

And, lastly, here is a filmmaker who have walked the middle-road throughout his career: Rian Johnson. He's going to be helming the next Star Wars movies, but he began his career by writing/directing this little movie called Brick. Which, for my money, is the best movie he's made so far. He also directed the most famous Breaking Bad episode Ozymandias, where, well... Shit happens. In this interview, Rian is extremely open about his artistic process -- he even allows us to take a look at the earliest iteration of the movie, a "novella/long treatment thingy".

As for the Short Film of the Week, here is a horror short that got its director his first high-profile feature. Mama is the name and it's a very simple movie, hell, it's just one scene. But it freaked out Guillermo Del Toro and he basically allowed the filmmakers behind the project to make the feature version.

I can't quite put my finger on why this short scene is so effective. There are so many horror movies made each year and I wonder why this one rises above the rest. It is genuinely scary, to me at least, but why? Maybe Sean the horror maestro can answer this.

Hope you enjoyed this edition of Friday Filmmaker Finds! If you have any thoughts on the Michael Bay situation or why Mama is scary... That's why the comments are for! See you there!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting and Processing Feedback

Guest Blogger: Levin Meneske
You've toiled on this pilot/screenplay for a long, long time and finally it's complete. You've made this document out of nothing and you've bled in the process. Now what?

Well, this might be the appropriate time to show your work to a few people you trust and get their opinions. Why? Because chances are your brain has transformed itself into a chrysalis for this project you've been working on and you have serious tunnel vision. I mean, just consider the process of writing a story: It's basically talking to yourself in different voices. So, just accept that you're not at the most mentally healthy and objective place right now. Give it a rest, let your brain transform back into its original form and speak with one voice for a while. Meanwhile, let people read your work. And by "people", I mean:

Who to get Feedback from

Yes, your Mom loves your new pilot and your Dad quite doesn't "get it" and talks about student loans a lot, but are they helpful? Anyone can "love" and "hate" things with passion and you know this acutely if you've ever sat in a focus group for a movie/TV show. Not that these observations are worthless -- if everyone in your audience thinks your protagonist is a pompous asshat whose grandeur ramblings and self-justifications are tiring, then you should probably think about that 1000+ page tome again, Mrs. Rand -- but what you are looking for is the kind of feedback that is a bit more trenchant. This is not to say that your Mother or your favorite waitress at Corner Bakery Cafe are unable to comprehend "story" at a deep level, but, they probably lack the vocabulary. Words like "structure", "character voices" and "the third act twist" might feel innate to you right now, but most people outside of our little sphere has less of a command of these terms. If I asked my mom about "the third act twist", she would probably yell "I know that one! M. Night Shyamalan!" and she'd be right at some level, but, again, this is your baby and you need people who can transmit their opinions/views/thoughts/notes with clarity and know what they are saying not on "some level" but on all the levels.

So that narrows our net to other writers. But who out of the writers you know?

First of all, do not discriminate on the basis of genre. I honestly don't know why or how this works, but that friend you have who writes gross sex-comedies might have insightful things to say about the dark imagery in your horror-thriller. Similarly, that creepy dude who writes fucked-up horror movies and gives you nightmares might be the best person to pitch you jokes on your absurdist musical about irrational numbers. Again, this is a bit of a mystery to me but maybe it's because this industry tends to pigeon-hole everyone as the "X" guy/gal although we have many stories and tones inside of us and these parts of us tend to emerge during note sessions.

Second of all, it's probably a good idea to give your script to someone who "gets" your writing. Now, this doesn't mean they necessarily "like" your writing or they're your best friends, it means they understand what you're trying to accomplish with your story. Say that you are David Foster Wallace and you write post-modern but sincere accounts of drug addiction, combining "low culture" with highfalutin language and almost all of your characters are unbearably sad. Some people will be immediately put-off by your subject matter and confused by your style. They will not be in the same frequency as you and you will feel it. This is somewhat ineffable and abstract, but you will know it when the time comes.

(Note: By the way, I'm in no way shaming people who don't "get" DFW. I, for example, watched Raging Bull twice and still don't "get" it, which, I'd argue, could be considered, a cinematic shame of a higher order.)

So, you have your people. Your tribe. You send your material to them and then you meet. What now?

How to Keep Your Shit Together When Receiving Feedback

Look, hey, I know it's not easy when you present someone with a piece of your soul and they just shit on it. It's a similar feeling to asking someone out with great hopes after you've already imagined your beautiful, magical first date and... then receive a crushing "REJECTED!" stamp to your heart that reduces it to a pool of tears. So, hopefully, this doesn't happen, but, probably, it will.

Even if the reception is not as disastrous as I have alluded to, the chances are your first draft is messy and filled with clunky exposition and tangential subplots that are somehow both too long and too short. So, brace yourself and Keep Your Shit Together. Here are a few tips:

- Silence is Golden: Even if you're crumbling inside and you are in unbearable physic pain as you're re-thinking your life choices that led you to this moment... It is best to keep silent. This is for your and your note-giver's sanity, not to mention the quality of his/her thoughts on your script. See, other writers are familiar with the inner-workings of your mind and they know that they are practically criticizing your child. They realize this is a tough endeavor and they will take a step back as soon as they smell your pain. But you don't want them to take a step back, you want them to get to the heart of the matter.

Nothing will eradicate a productive, necessary note session than the writer piping up and filibustering it with excuses or reasons why the person X did not enjoy their work. Do not do this. Nobody likes this.

This is especially important in Writer's Group kind of situations where people are getting a discussion going, bouncing ideas off of one another. The single worst thing the Writer can do in these group discussions is to take the focus off of his/her work and bring it onto himself/herself. Way to cut the circulation and suffocate the discussion, Writer.

- Speak softly: During an argument with your significant other, it will probably fare better if you said "I feel unappreciated when I see the dishes in the sink after I cook." as opposed to "Why don't YOU wash the dishes when I cooked for YOU all day, YOU LAZY PERSON!"

Similarly, during a discussion about your work, you might realize that people have got something completely wrong. Or they completely did not get the identity of the murderer even though you felt you telegraphed it thirteen different times in the third act. You might felt be compelled to say something like: "It's in there! How could YOU not get that?!" or even a passive-aggressive dig such as: "Did YOU read page 83?"

Doing this will not only antagonize others, it also obfuscates the problems apparent in your writing. If 3 out of 10 people didn't get a major plot point, well, maybe it's because you write huge action paragraphs and you buried your plot point. Maybe it's because your character motivations aren't clear enough, so when Elizabeth turned into a dragon and stabbed Michael, it was utterly confusing because we missed that pivotal "sidelong glance" Elizabeth gave to the mysterious man carrying the Stabby Dragon Statue on page 7.

The onus is on you, friend. So if you spot the conversation is being totally derailed and you want to jump in to course-correct, you can say something like "Oh, I was trying to do X in that scene." If the conversation has ended and you want to gather more information about a specific problem, ask: "I'm wondering, how do you think I can make X clearer?"

All the rules that apply to relationship arguments, apply to these conversations.

- Embrace Bad/Outlandish Ideas: People will be using "bad" or "outlandish" pitches to illustrate what they mean and point out what they would have liked to see in your story. Even if all your body screams with disbelief and the conviction that your version of the story is far superior to what is being proposed, just... listen. Most of the time people pitching those ideas know their examples are bad (One of my USC professors used to begin his bad pitches with "This is the Belgian TV version of what I mean...") and even if they are sincerely pitching an outlandish idea, look at the "note-behind-the-note". This means that while, yes, you will not probably change your period piece about Dracula into an intergalactic adventure, think about which problems in your story this suggestion addresses. In this case, perhaps your story feels too small and not cinematic enough, so the person thought bringing it into the Space could be the solution. Or, perhaps, it's simply not Fresh enough, God knows we've seen enough Vampire movies to last sixteen generations, so s/he thought that maybe a Science Fiction angle could freshen up your premise.

(S/He would be, unfortunately, wrong due to the existence of this awesome Casper Van Dien vehicle:

Ultimately, good ideas spring from bad ones. Coherent thoughts are results of long ramblings. It's a process similar to how some people have to write 200 page first drafts in order to get to that 100 page final draft. Don't ridicule these suggestions, try to learn from them.

Alright, so, you've successfully Kept Your Shit Together. Now what?

Collating your Feedback

The overwhelming majority opinion: You should probably listen if 8 out of 10 people say that your second act lacks a main tension. If the majority were confused on a plot point, it's probably wise to clear that up or if they were rooting for two characters to end up together, that is probably something to listen to.

By the way, that is not to say that you have to abide by their opinions. I'm pretty sure many people would have loved it if all their favorite Game of Thrones characters survived and the plot of the Twin Peaks was explained in a straight-forward procedural scene, but, boy, I'm glad those didn't happen. However, you should keep these elements in mind and see if they align with your aims. If you were aiming for CSI:Alaska and people keep calling your pilot "surreal", then you should probably take a step back and see why.

The Polarizing Point: Sometimes 5/10 people will absolutely love your character Winter, the quirky blonde love interest and your protagonist's childhood sweetheart who shows up at mid-point carrying a snowball she brought from East Coast in an ice-cooler, whereas 5/10 people will absolutely hate her because your screenplay already has two love interests for your main character and Winter's quirkiness is bringing your screenplay into a whimsical territory that is simply out of tone with the rest of your script.

First of all, give yourself a pat on the back. Such passionate disagreement means that people have engaged with your screenplay and there is something there.

Secondly, this stuff is always the trickiest because you will feel torn between the two paths that lie ahead of you. It will be wise to take into account why people are feeling the way they are. Chances are you haven't made a clear choice on what your story is, how everything fits together and which elements are absolutely essential to your story. Try to think back to your initial inspiration, the reason why you want to write this story, and try to figure out which path is best for you.

In my case -- yes, Winter, the quirky snowball carrier is a real example from my work -- I ended up cutting Winter with a heavy heart because I did find that two love interests worked better than three in that particular screenplay.

Ultimately though, you will not be able to please everyone with your changes. Many people who loved Winter found that the new draft was more "dour" without her presence. Well, friends, this is how Real Life differs from being a Pokemon Trainer. You can catch'em all, but you can never please'em all.

Going Forward

It's recommended that you take some time off before returning to your story again. Concentrate on something else, take long walks, clean your mind off of the residue of this particular story so that you can return to it with fresh eyes once again. Try to ingest your story as an audience member and not as The Writer. Once you feel like you can sincerely do this...

Your Journey Begins Anew. Godspeed.

- Levin Menekse

For more on the feedback/rewrite loop read This Is What a Rewrite Looks Like.