You did it! You finally finished that screenplay after many weeks, months, or even years of work. Now what? Well, if you ask an experienced writer they'd probably say that it's time to get some feedback, but oftentimes the process can be a little daunting, confusing, and hard to capitalize on. That's why we sat down with Jonny Paterson to ask him how writers can make the most of the notes they receive.
Jonny is a producer, entertainment executive, and founder of JP International Productions, but he's now also one of the talented professionals offering Industry Direct Notes on Coverfly. He was kind enough to share some excellent tips on the process of getting notes on your script, how to make sense of them, and how to turn those suggestions into great edits that strengthen your story.
Check out our interview with Jonny Paterson below, then continue on for some of our favorite takeaways.
You're on the Same Team
It can be difficult receiving notes, especially when they address things about your story that you really like or that you think work really well. So, how do you deal with feedback you don't necessarily agree with? Well, it all starts with understanding that the reader, producer, or executive want the same thing that you want — for your project to be successful. Jonny says:
"It's a balance — and the balance is between your own vision and what you're going for and what the executive that you're talking to and working with is telling you is going to give your project a better chance of success. Those two things don't always go hand-in-hand, and that looks like compromise."
He goes on:
"One way to look at it is when we give you notes we have mutually aligned goals, which is to make something together. None of us has time to spin our wheels on things that either we're not excited about, don't really believe in, or just don't want to do. I would always come at the notes-receiving side of it from an understanding of who we are and why we're giving them, which is genuine to try to help you."
Identify the "Note Behind the Note"
You might've heard this phrase before — the "note behind the note." Essentially, it's referring to the fundamental issue a note is trying to address. This is an important distinction, because writers, readers, producers, and executives are all human beings with different communication styles and understandings of the project, so it's vital to be able to navigate through the notes you receive to understand the point they're trying to make. Jonny explains:
"If you understand where the note is coming from, then you as the creator can have creative license to try things and come up with the best version of it."
At the End of the Day, It's About Building Relationships
Receiving notes can be a really vulnerable thing for many writers, so naturally, the chance of taking things personally is quite high. However, the name of the game is maintaining and growing your professional relationships, so make sure to keep your communication respectful and professional. Jonny says that "this industry is about building relationships," and goes on to say:
"If you're taking notes and you just don't like the notes, you don't agree with the notes, you don't want to address the notes, that doesn't mean your relationship with that person has to be fractured because of that. It's just a case of being respectful to each other for each other's time and energies. So, you just respectfully say, 'We're not creatively aligned on this.'"