Top Ten Producer Notes that Make Screenwriters Want to Slit Their Wrists

Producer notes can drive writers mad
Producer notes can drive writers mad

1. “We like it, we just don’t think we can sell it.” Translation, they don’t like it. We won’t really tell you what we do like, but please go away and spend the next three weeks of your life writing something else to show us that we may hate just as much

2. “It needs more edge.” Translation… We’re not sure what we don’t like about it. Just see what you can do to make it into something we might like better.

3. “It’s all there, it’s just not in the right order.” Translation, the notion that scenes in a movie build into a sequence and sequences build on each other to make up a cohesive story is foreign to us. We see scripts as a big jigsaw puzzle in which all the pieces have sides that can interlock with any other piece. Just move everything around.

4. “I realize this is based on a true story, but I’m having a hard time buying it could really happen.” Translation… my experience is a universal experience so if it’s not a choice I would make, then no one else would make that choice either.

5. “Make him more likable.” Translation… I don’t understand the complexity of this character so please simplify him and make him rescue a puppy in the first act so that the audience will connect with him and not hate him so much when he dons a mask and starts killing people.

6.“Bad version, he says ’I never forgave you for murdering my family and now I’m going to make you pay!’” Translation… take the worst movie line ever uttered and change it just enough so that people won’t groan but don’t change it so much that I won’t recognize it’s the line I came up with.

7. “Let’s make the elderly librarian a younger, sexy woman with an Southern accent instead. It’ll be great because people won’t be expecting a wise medicine woman to be young and hot.” Translation… I met a girl from Louisiana last night that I’d really like to sleep with and she will be playing this role.

8. “The role needs to be meatier.” Translation, I promised my friend he could have this role and despite the fact he’s never acted, he wants at least nine or ten lines so make ’Cop #1’ more important than he really should be and give him lines that the editor will not try to convince me to cut out later.

9. “The actor has some issues with his character.” Translation… the actor is not available to do the movie, but wants to, so this is the perfect way for him to stall until he finishes out the current movie he’s on and in the meantime, we’ll give you a bunch of busy work to do in changing his character which you may just have you change back later so don’t delete the current version of this script.

10. “We feel you’ve taken the script as far as you can go with it.” Translation… you’re fired.

Christine Conradt

Christine Conradt, a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, has been involved in production and development since 1996. She has earned writing and producing credits on more than 40 indie films and t.v. movies. Her movies have aired on Lifetime, LMN, USA, and Fox.

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