I don't know what working with a producer or creative exec is like on a Hollywood movie, but this is a bit of how it's worked on the script I'm writing for V.
We meet weekly (and with the exception of Thanksgiving, we've been pretty good about making this time every week). The first few weeks we did some brainstorming together, developing the characters, outlining the plot, discussing theme. Because I am not a very quick thinker (which I'll have to conquer when I move to LA, I know), I would usually just nod and take notes and go home and really flesh out the characters and story on my own time. We did character profiles and an outline and beat sheet for the first half of the script. We talked about a treatment but never did one. That was fine with me.
When we got to the actual writing, I would work on the pages during the week, email them to him the night before our meeting, and go discuss and take notes the next day. If I was surprisingly motivated, I would rework previous pages to incorporate notes and send those along as well. That happened twice. V. would give me his notes, I would argue them if I felt strongly, we'd discuss what we think happens next, and then we'd adjourn.
We started working on the story at the end of August, and as of today I'm hovering on the precipice of the Act II break. My goal is to have the script finished by next week's meeting and then do a quick run through to incorporate the notes I've gotten the past few months and have a draft 1.5 ready the following week to hand over the night before I leave for Christmas.
And then we start giving it to other people for notes.
And then we'll rewrite it.
And THEN we'll start preproduction.
It all seems very fast to me. I told V. how difficult it was to come to our meetings sometimes, nervous about what he was going to say about certain pages. I haven't shown any a 'draft zero' like this since I was in college, and then it was expected that everything we wrote was going to be rather crappy. In fact, the only people who have read any of my scripts since graduation have been family members, and none of those scripts were at 'draft zero' stage. With V. I (am beginning to) feel comfortable showing pages that are that rough, but even with a quick pass/rewrite, it goes against all my instincts to show anyone a script that's fewer than 3 or 4 drafts refined. When I personally know that there are ways I can improve and rewrite it, it's difficult to hand it over, knowing that it has problems, even just to a friend for notes.
Getting notes sometimes makes me nervous. Actually, GETTING notes doesn't make me nervous. Harsh criticism makes me nervous. Hearing that something is unfixably terrible makes me nervous. Hearing that I'm a talentless hack makes me nervous. I don't I will be receiving those "notes" this time, but there is this anxiety of hearing that, not only is the script not where it should be, but that I won't be able to be the one to get it there.
I am sharing a draft of The Exit Strategy for the first time. A film friend who's been asking to see it for about 9 months has a copy, along with a long list of questions and thoughts that I have. I was planning on rewriting it one more time before sending it to her, but then I figured it'd be nice to have someone as a sounding board for the changes I was going to implement. I love this script dearly and I know she won't be mean, but at the end of the email I asked her the big questions --
Is this story worth it? Is there any potential here? Were you invested? Were you bored? Could you see this as an (indie) movie?
Should I spend my time rewriting and rewriting and rewriting it? Or simply move on?
I texted the Hockey Player to tell him I had sent the Exit Strategy to my friend, and he responded, "Great! Now send it to a producer! If that's the next step." I said, "Rewriting is the next step."
Because 98% of the time, rewriting is always the next step.