The 10-Page Torture Test
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Author Topic: Eric Heisserer quietly pops your balloon  (Read 829 times)
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Rollercoaster on fire
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« on: December 05, 2012, 03:45 AM »

Screenwriter Eric Heisserer opines on The Bitter Script Reader blog about what it's like to be the loose button in a tumble dryer.

The last time you see your script, a frightening amount of your dialogue has been rewritten, scene locations have been moved around, there may be one or two new characters or a couple fewer characters, which subtly imbalance something you’d kept in harmony for the last ten months and three studio drafts. Most heartbreaking may be the clever setups/callbacks you’d written in that are now orphaned or widowed. And of course, all over the place you still see the SUBTEXT HAMMER describing action BLUNTLY so the speed-reader will NOT MISS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SCENE.

There is some great new stuff in there, too, you have to admit. Another writer had a clever idea with a subplot. Or a better ear for comedic dialogue. But you’ll realize that sometimes changes happen because people are just too used to the story after reading the script over and over. There’s no mystery anymore. Changes don’t always happen to make things better. Sometimes it’s just to make them different; new.

This is typically your least favorite draft. In your eyes, it’s a wreck. And you fear it will get worse during production or reshoots, trying to find its new form. The movie at this point needs to shed its wings or its fish scales and commit to being one thing.

Invariably, this is the draft that is leaked to the Internet. With just your name on it. Your writing is excoriated online by fans. They point out everything you already know is problematic with this draft, plus a few other problems. One or two clever commenters will wonder aloud why you didn’t do this or that with the characters… choices you made in your first draft. Still others will discuss why the script isn’t more like the source material, or why it should be very different from it, or why any of a thousand decisions were made.

You can’t tell them anything. You can’t point to the twelve hundred script pages and notes where you explored all of these ideas and discovered why using them was a Bad Plan. Your significant other tells you you shouldn’t be reading comments online in the first place, what are you, crazy? ...

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