I just signed my first option agreement for one of my spec scripts and am starting work developing and rewriting the screenplay with the producer’s development personnel, which is all very exciting, but also a bit scary, as I’m wary of them damaging the script. Any tips on how to survive the process or any good stories from development hell?
The best advice I can give you is to keep an open mind as you’re talking with them, and not to commit to any changes during a meeting. Remember that they can only offer suggestions about what they’d like to see changed, not how to actually do it. That’s your job. Any damage done to the script will be your doing, not theirs.
A lot of times, I’ll encounter a note that seems idiotic or unworkable. But the more I talk with the note-givers, I begin to understand what they’re really getting at. Maybe something that I think is obvious simply isn’t clear, or the problem isn’t with the scene itself, but how much it’s ultimately going to cost to film.
Try to make every meeting a real conversation, rather than a session of attack-and-defend. The ability to look at your work objectively and impassively takes a lot of time to develop, but it’s a skill that will ultimately make your scripts stronger.